Iowa representative and far-right sympathizer Steve King has kept a fairly low profile since the House cut him from his positions on the Judiciary and Agricultural committees for claiming the label “white nationalist” is not offensive. “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King asked in a January interview with the New York Times.
But the Tuesday after Easter, King returned to the spotlight with an apparent savior complex. At a town-hall meeting in Cherokee, Iowa, King described the experience of being on the receiving end of a 421-1 House vote to rebuke him for his statement to the Times: “When I have to step down to the floor of the House of Representatives, and look up at those 400-and-some accusers, you know we just passed through Easter and Christ’s passion, and I have better insight into what He went through for us.”
King’s claim — My experience of getting reprimanded in an organized fashion for normalizing white nationalism is similar to crucifixion — comes at a moment for the American right that New York’s Ed Kilgore calls conservative Christian self-pity: frustration “over the indignity of having to share their country with sodomites, feminists, and environmentalists, not to mention the active persecution associated with having to subsidize reproductive medical services, cater to the patronage of same-sex couples, and worst of all, experience wishes for ‘Happy Holidays’ every Christmas season.”
At the town hall in Iowa, a local reverend, Pinky Person, forwarded a similar claim: “My concern is how Christianity is really being persecuted. It is starting right here in the United States.” As shown by the grim example of the Easter bombings that killed 359 Sri Lankans, horrific violence against Christians is a phenomenon taking place abroad: According to Open Doors, the most extensive anti-Christian persecution is in Pakistan, Nigeria, and the Central African Republic. However, Iowa, where Christians make up a reported 77 percent of the population, didn’t make the cut.
Correction: This post initially said King was censured by Congress. The House voted to repudiate King’s words, but the push to censure him – a more serious punishment – fizzled. We regret the error.