Recently, Congressman Steve King stood on the steps of the U.S. capital and accused a group of African American farmers of being frauds and drug addicts. He called their class-action lawsuits – which showed that black farmers were denied federal loans that were given to white farmers – “slavery reparations.” And he blamed it all on President Obama, for being so “very, very urban.”
Steve King has a long history of racist comments but before 2008 he was dismissed as just a kook with racist tendencies. His comparisons of undocumented immigrants to “stray cats” and his design for an electrified fence along the border with Mexico (“we do this with livestock all the time”, he pointed out) were cloaked under a mantle of supposed concern for enforcement of immigration laws. They were dismissed as hyperbole, instead of being recognized as expressions of deep-rooted prejudice against Hispanics.
But since the election of Barack Obama as our country’s first African American President, his racism has become more blatant, more public, more specific, and very personal:
During the 2008 election campaign;
“I don’t want to disparage anyone because of their race, their ethnicity, their name – whatever their religion their father might have been. I’ll just say this: When you think about the option of a Barack Obama potentially getting elected President of the United States — I mean, what does this look like to the rest of the world? What does it look like to the world of Islam?”
Commenting on the aftermath of the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr in his own home;
“It seems the President has an inclination to engage in these kinds of things. When he had an Irish cop and a black professor, who did he side with?”
Commenting on President Obama’s direction to Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate Arizona’s anti-immigrant law;
”But the President has demonstrated that he has a default mechanism in him that breaks down the side of race – on the side that favors the black person.”
Steve King on black farmers: “They’re just filing a claim because they think they can get away with it.”
Now, with his attacks on the character of black farmers and their descendants, and his characterization of President Obama as “very, very urban,” Steve King has revealed once and for all that he isn’t just a kook with racist tendencies. The cloak of “political differences” that he has been hiding behind in his attacks on the President has been ripped away to reveal his deep-rooted prejudice against African Americans.
In the House of Representatives, the way that members formally condemn the behavior of one of their own is through censure. Censure consists of the offending member standing in the well of the House while the speaker reads a resolution rebuking them. That sounds like a fitting punishment for a U.S. Congressman who has used racist statements to attack the character of black farmers and the President. Steve King should be censured.