US Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican, shocked members of an MSNBC panel on Monday by challenging them to name a “subgroup of people” that has contributed more to civilization than white people.
The statement came as other panel members were discussing the lack of racial diversity in the Republican Party ahead of the party’s convention, which started on Monday in Cleveland, Ohio.
One of the panelists, Esquire’s Charles Pierce, said that the hall at the Quicken Loans Arena was “wired by loud, unhappy, dissatisfied white people.”
“This whole ‘white people’ business does get a little tired, Charlie … I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where have these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about. Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”
“Than white people?” host Chris Hayes attempted to clarify.
“Than – than Western civilization itself that’s rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and the United States of America, and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world. That’s all of Western civilization.”
The discussion promptly devolved into chaos as all four panelists began talking over each other. Journalist April Ryan, who is African-American, was heard asking, “What about Africa? What about Asia?”
As The Washington Post dutifully points out, non-Western civilizations have made vast contributions to human civilization in astronomy, mathematics, architecture, philosophy, and countless other areas.
This is not the first time that King has waded into racial controversy.
The Iowa representative was spotted with a Confederate flag on his desk during a news segment last week, drawing the ire of his local NAACP. And last month, he pushed to block the addition of Harriet Tubman to the $20 bill, calling the move “pure political correctness.”