U.S. Congressman Steve King asks how terms white nationalist, white supremacist became offensive

King made comments when speaking to New York Times

U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)
U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) (CNN image)

WASHINGTON D.C. – During an interview with the New York Times, Rep. Steve King asked how the terms white nationalist, white supremacist and white civilian became offensive.

The Iowa congressman was quoted by the Times as saying, "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?”

RELATED: Rep. Steve King appeared on podcast frequented by white nationalists

King issued a statement after the interview was published stating he is not a white nationalist nor a white supremacist. 

Read King's full statement below:

"Today, the New York Times is suggesting that I am an advocate for white nationalism and white supremacy. I want to make one thing abundantly clear; I reject those labels and the evil ideology that they define. Further, I condemn anyone that supports this evil and bigoted ideology which saw in its ultimate expression the systematic murder of 6 million innocent Jewish lives.

"It's true that like the Founding Fathers I am an advocate for Western Civilization's values, and that I profoundly believe that America is the greatest tangible expression of these ideals the World has ever seen. Under any fair political definition, I am simply a Nationalist. America's values are expressed in our founding documents, they are attainable by everyone and we take pride that people of all races, religions, and creeds from around the globe aspire to achieve them. I am dedicated to keeping America this way.

"This conviction does not make me a white nationalist or a white supremacist. Once again, I reject those labels and the ideology they define. As I told the New York Times, 'it's not about race; it's never been about race.' One of my most strongly held beliefs is that we are all created in God's image and that human life is sacred in all its forms."

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