South Carolina’s Tim Scott, the only African-American Republican in the Senate, carefully condemned a tweet from one of his GOP colleagues that has been interpreted as thinly veiled white nationalism.
Iowa Rep. Steve King, an immigration hard-liner, tweeted praise for Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician who openly opposes Islam and immigration.
“Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny,” King wrote Sunday. “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
The criticism was swift, even among King’s colleagues. But Scott didn’t weigh in until Monday.
“E pluribus unum,” wrote Scott in a tweet with a link to a New York Times story on King’s remarks. “And as Christians, we believe the many all come from Adam and Eve.”
In a later statement, Scott further clarified his tweet.
“Rep. King’s comments immediately brought to mind the motto printed on our nation’s coins – e pluribus unum, or ‘out of many, one,’ ” Scott said in an email. “And as a Christian myself, I believe we are all descended from the same place. His comments stand in direct contradiction to those ideas and beliefs, and I firmly reject them.”
Scott has served as an influential voice in Congress during a period of renewed, race-fueled tension in the United States. He gave a speech last year about being targeted by law enforcement and called in 2017 for racial healing during the confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump’s attorney general as others accused the nominee, fellow Republican Jeff Sessions, of holding racist sentiments.
As one of the few African-American Republicans in elected office, Scott has faced racist rhetoric directed at him largely on Twitter: He has been called “a house negro,” “a white man in a black man’s body” and “a disgrace to the black race.”
King has stood by his Sunday tweet despite the criticism from within his own party. “Of course I meant exactly what I said,” King told CNN host Chris Cuomo on Monday.
“You cannot rebuild your civilization with somebody else’s babies. You’ve got to keep your birth rate up, and that you need to teach your children your values,” King said. “In doing so, you can grow your population, you can strengthen your culture and you can strengthen your way of life.”
King went on to say that he’d like to see less focus on race in the United States in a future where “intermarriage” leads to an “America that is just so homogenous that we look a lot the same.”
“I’m a champion for Western civilization,” King said to Cuomo.