Letter to House Leaders Regarding Rep. Steve King

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January 14, 2019

In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, ADL called for the censure of Rep. Steve King and asked that his ranking membership be stripped, due to a history of anti-Semitic and offensive involvements and statements.

January 14, 2019

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House of Representatives
204 Capitol Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Minority Leader
H-107 Capitol Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy,

Thank you for your condemnation of Representative Steve King’s comments regarding white nationalism and white supremacy. I write to raise up a request that you come together to censure Rep. King and strip from him his ranking membership.

I originally wrote to you, Leader McCarthy, and then-Speaker Ryan on October 30, 2018 to urge you to censure Rep. King and strip him of his chairmanship in light of an extraordinarily disturbing series of involvements and statements that were anti-Semitic and offensive not just to the Jewish community, but to all Americans. Rep. King doubled down on this behavior by questioning why the terms white supremacist and white nationalist are offensive. His protestations after the fact that he is not bigoted do not align with years and years of statements and actions on the part of the Congressman.

Why these terms are offensive should not be a mystery. White supremacy is a term used to characterize various belief systems central to which are one or more of the following key tenets: 1) whites should have dominance over people of other backgrounds, especially where they may co- exist; 2) whites should live by themselves in a whites-only society; 3) white people have their own "culture" that is superior to other cultures; 4) white people are genetically superior to other people. As a full-fledged ideology, white supremacy is far more encompassing than simple racism or bigotry. Most white supremacists today further believe that the white race is in danger of extinction due to a rising “flood” of non-whites, who are controlled and manipulated by Jews, and that imminent action is need to “save” the white race.

White nationalism is a term that originated among white supremacists as a euphemism for white supremacy. Eventually, some white supremacists tried to distinguish it further by using it to refer to a form of white supremacy that emphasizes defining a country or region by white racial identity and which seeks to promote the interests of whites exclusively, typically at the expense of people of other backgrounds.

I originally wrote after it was revealed that Rep. King met in Austria with members of the Freedom Party, a far-right political party founded by a former Nazi SS officer, and sat for an interview with Unzensuriert, a Freedom Party-aligned publication. Despite claims by Rep. King and Freedom Party (FPO) leaders, the Freedom Party remains riddled with anti-Semitism and Holocaust trivialization. As such, the Jewish community of Austria boycotts the party in its entirety. Since FPO joined the government coalition in December 2017, the Jewish community of Austria has noted 19 anti-Semitic or neo-Nazi incidents with party officials.

It was particularly outrageous that Rep. King met with the FPO while on a Holocaust education trip sponsored by “From the Depths,” an international non-profit group. When questioned about his trip to Poland, Rep. King denigrated the Jewish history of the Holocaust, saying he sought out the “Polish perspective” on the Holocaust and pointed to his takeaway of the “Polish perspective” that they “don’t know” whether Nazi or Soviet occupation of their country was worse.

Further, Rep. King endorsed Faith Goldy, a Toronto mayoral candidate who has suggested that Canada is undergoing “white genocide;” who has proudly recited the anti-Semitic and white supremacist “14 words” slogans; and who has appeared on a show hosted by the neo-Nazi website, the Daily Stormer in which she praised another neo-Nazi for his “well thought-out ideas” about the “JQ” (the “Jewish question.”) When confronted about these facts, Rep. King refused to delete his retweets, which were perceived as endorsements.

We do not take this lightly. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, ADL does not support or oppose candidates for political office.  We also recognize that there are any number of issues that ADL and a member of Congress could disagree on. When it comes to Rep. King, we are beyond substantive disagreements. Rep. King has brought dishonor onto the House of Representatives.

We strongly urge you to demonstrate your revulsion with Rep. King’s actions by working together to censure him and strip him of his subcommittee ranking membership and otherwise discipline him. By doing so, you will make clear that his actions were deeply offensive, wrong, and that the U.S. House of Representatives will not tolerate anti-Semitism or bigotry in any form.


Jonathan A. Greenblatt
CEO and National Director
Anti-Defamation League