Iowa Rep. Steve King Says Without Rape And Incest There Wouldn't Be A Population

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Who Is Rep. Steve King? New Details On Iowa Congressman Who Said There Wouldn't Be A Population Without Rape And Incest

It's no secret that Representative Steve King (R-IA) is a lightning rod for controversy. The 8-term Member of the House of Representatives has a habit of saying things that make even members of his own party try to keep their distance from him.

King has a long history of thinly veiled racism, which he claims is actually support of what he calls "Western Civilization." As early as 2002, when he was in the Iowa State Senate, he was the sponsor of a bill demanding that schools teach that the United States "is the unchallenged greatest nation in the world and that it has derived its strength from…Christianity, free enterprise capitalism and Western civilization.” In 2005, he sued Iowa for posting information in languages other than English on official government websites. He has also said that not all cultures deserve respect, telling the Washington Post "The idea of multiculturalism, that every culture is equal — that’s not objectively true," suggesting that only European cultures have merit.

This week, however, it wasn't his racism that got the nation's attention. This time, he was speaking at an event where someone asked him about his abortion stance. He has always been so anti-abortion that he won't even support abortion in the case of pregnancy by rape or incest. In his defense of that position this week, he said that we wouldn't have a population if it wasn't for rape and incest. 

Who is Rep. Steve King? Read on for all the details. 

1. Long history of racism

Earlier this year, The New York Times published a list of his history of racist remarks and policies that cover almost 20 years of him trying to elevate what he calls "Western Civilization" above all other cultures. He objects to the use of languages other than English in the US and he is radically anti-immigrant. In 2018, he actually said that allowing migration is dangerous Europe, tweeting “Cultural suicide by demographic transformation must end.” His feelings on migration from Mexico and South America into the US are no less hostile. In 2013, he summed up his opposition to giving protections to Dreamers by saying "For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert." He's been suggesting a border wall for years and jokes that he inspired Trump to champion that position. 

2. Loss of committee positions

In 2019, he finally managed to take his racist rhetoric too far. The New York Times asked him if he identified as a white nationalist and he replied “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?” He tried to backpedal in the days that followed but the damage was done. Republican leadership stripped him of his committee assignments as punishment for his open racism. The Atlantic reports that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said at the time: "I listened to what Steve said. I brought Steve in and met with him. I also did research on what Steve has said in the past. I believe this party is the party of Lincoln. There is no room for white supremacy,” McCarthy continued. “That’s why I took a strong action.”

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3. Extreme anti-abortion stance

King has a noted obsession with falling birth rates, which is behind his opposition to abortion and birth control. In 2011, he opposed Obamacare's coverage of contraception by saying: "Preventing babies being born is not medicine. That’s not constructive to our culture and our civilization. If we let our birthrate get down below the replacement rate, we’re a dying civilization." In interviews with foreign publications, he has talked about his worries about a "white genocide" or "replacement theory", which NBC News defines as "claims that white people are being replaced by nonwhite people around the world because white women are not having enough children." He has even said: "We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies." All of this points to an opposition to abortion and contraception that isn't rooted in morality but in white supremacy.

King wants to see increased white birth rates because he hates and fears other cultures. 

4. “It’s not the baby’s fault for the sin of the father or of the mother.”

This week, he was trying to defend his absolutist stance on opposing abortion by saying that rape and incest have been intrinsic to Western civilization. He commented "Considering all the ways and all the rapes and pillages taken place and whatever happened to culture after society? I know I can’t certify that I’m not a part of a product of that.” He went on to say "What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape and incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?” 

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5. Unpopular policy stance

King's comments minimized the very real trauma of sexual assault and are out of step with popular opinion on the matter of abortion. Most people acknowledge that rape and incest are vile crimes. For people who have experienced sexual assault, by a stranger or family member, the idea of being forced to carry a pregnancy to term after first being forced to get pregnant against their will is an act of cruelty beyond comprehension. NBC reports that 63 percent of Americans say they favor keeping abortion legal in cases of rape and incest, according to a recent survey by PBS NewsHour, NPR and Marist.

6. Swift negative reactions

King's comments blew up on traditional and social media and drew immediate criticism from those on the right and the left. Republican Representative Liz Cheney tweeted: "Today’s comments by [RepSteveKingIA] are appalling and bizarre. As I’ve said before, it’s time for him to go. The people of Iowa’s 4th congressional district deserve better."

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Democratic Senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris called King a "rape apologist" on CNN, saying his comments show he doesn't understand the responsibility of his job.

Senator Harris calls King a "rape apologist." 

At this point, there is no clear action that any lawmaker can take to remove King from office. Being a racist rape-apologist is not a disqualification for being a Member of the House of Representatives. However, these comments may be the final straw for the voters in Iowa. In 2016, one former King supporter told The Guardian that said he had voted for King in the past “but I’m tired of the embarrassment."  He went on to say "The comments...he’s so openly racist, and I find that very abhorrent.” It's possible that other voters are starting to feel the same way.

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.