A congressman from East Texas says his colleague raised a fair question about Western civilization and is being treated unfairly.
U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert said that U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa — who has been disciplined by Republican leaders for comments about white supremacy and white nationalism — is not getting due process, and he is still a friend.
Gohmert, who lives in Tyler, represents most of East Texas in the U.S. House. He commented on the ongoing situation involving King in a phone interview on Wednesday with the Tyler Morning Telegraph.
Republican leaders in the House decided Tuesday that King could not serve on any committees in the House. The move means King will not be able to do any in-depth policy work with his colleagues to write and edit, and he only will be able to vote on the House floor.
The move came after King told The New York Times in an article published Jan. 10: “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?”
Gohmert served with King on the powerful House Judiciary Committee, and the Judiciary’s subcommittee on constitutional issues. Last week, when Gohmert was given time to speak to colleagues on the House floor, he gave a few minutes of that time to King, who said he wanted to clarify his comments.
“He explained what he was saying,” Gohmert said of King’s clarification. “He was talking about Western civilization, that, ‘When did Western civilization become a negative?’ and that’s a fair question. When did Western civilization become a negative?
“We have the only country that I’m aware of that would shed its most valuable treasure —American blood — for freedom, not for hegemony, just for freedom,” Gohmert said. “There’s never been a group that’s been more philanthropic than American citizens. That was a fair question — when did Western civilization become a negative?”
He added: “They start piling on with innuendo and it was just grossly unfair, but Steve and everybody I hear all agree. We condemn white supremacy. There is no place for that. And I still yearn for the day when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream becomes reality."
Gohmert said he raised concerns about the decision to strip King of his committee assignments in a meeting with Republican colleagues on Tuesday. He said he is not the only one who has raised concerns privately about the situation.
“He was not given due process,” Gohmert said. “And, in fact, if our minority leader (Kevin) McCarthy had gotten the same lack of due process against him previously, I can assure you he would not have been majority leader and he would not now be minority leader.
“He didn’t give Steve King the same kind of fairness that he got over allegations against him,” Gohmert said. “Also, he took the word of the New York Times reporter.”
King has been a divisive figure for years. In 2016, he asked on a talk show whether any subgroup of people had contributed as much to humanity aside from those from Western Europe and Western civilization, prompting a journalist to ask if he was referring to “white people.” He wrote on Twitter in 2016, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
Gohmert has defended Republican colleagues before. He campaigned in Alabama for U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore after the candidate had been accused of sexual misconduct with several underage girls; and he spoke in support of U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, who was criticized over whether he knew about sexual abuse at Ohio State University.
“It’s rather unfortunate,” Gohmert said of the situation with King. “I think McCarthy’s overreaction and lack of due process actually will hurt the Republican Party.” He said he still considers King a friend.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz appointed King to co-chair a national committee for his 2016 presidential campaign, and King said Cruz called him during the November 2018 election cycle to offer words of support. However, Cruz put more distance between himself and the congressman recently.
“What Steve King said was stupid,” he said on NBC’s "Meet the Press." “It was stupid, it was hurtful, it was wrong, and he needs to stop. I think all of us ought to be united, regardless of party, in saying, white supremacism, white nationalism, is hatred.
“It is bigotry. It is evil. It is wrong. And I think we need that clarity. And I'm certainly going to urge everyone to provide that clarity,” Cruz said.
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