Appearing on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show Friday night, MSNBC contributor and The Root politics editor Jason Johnson discussed recent comments made by Rep. Steve King (R-IA). During an interview with the New York Times, King openly embraced white nationalism and asked how the term suddenly became offensive. King took to the House floor Friday to defend himself while facing growing criticism from Republicans and conservatives.
JOY REID (GUEST HOST): Jason, I don’t know where you were when Steve King said the thing in Cleveland where he said that subgroups have never contributed anything to civilization, only, you know, Western European civilization. That didn’t cause a torrent of outrage. Why now?
JOHNSON: Because they just lost. It’s the only reason Republicans care. ‘Oh, we got shellacked in November, now all of a sudden we care we have nationalists in our party.’ He is a white nationalist. That means he really doesn’t believe that anyone who is not a white Christian should have an active role in how the government, economy or education works. He’s made that clear. His constituents have obviously re-elected him. He is not an outlier in the Republican Party. His views pretty much are in line with the President of the United States. He’s not going to go anywhere because you have too many people in the party who agree with him.
REID: You know, one of the things I think people forget is that long before Donald Trump said he was going to build a wall that Mexico is supposed to pay for, Steve King wanted to build a wall for the exact same reason. I wonder if that has gone down the memory hole with the GOP as well.
JOHNSON: Well, all of it has. The guy has a long, long history of this. But, Joy, what I find really important because we saw the president do this, ‘I’m a nationalist as opposed to a globalist.’ Steve King is like ‘I’m a nationalist.’ All of this playing with linguistics is this way to, sort of, mainstream this idea of white nationalist. When Steve King says ‘I’m a nationalist,’ it’s like R. Kelly saying ‘I like kids.’
We know what you’re talking about, right? You’re not fooling anyone at this particular point, and I think it’s important for anybody who is concerned about the health of this democracy, let alone people who live in Iowa, has to recognize that white nationalists are basically terrorist sympathizers. The only way you can get rid of all the black and brown and tan people in this country is to treat them with violence, to refuse to give them an opportunity to participate in the American experiment.
So anyone who says, well, I don’t really remember what Steve said, it’s bad. Ben Shapiro coming out and saying this crosses a line. You’ve been letting him and people like him cross a line in the party for years and now you have to view it as a national security issue, not just a political damage issue.
Watch the clip above, via MSNBC