South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott ripped into fellow Republicans this week over their silence on racist remarks by Republican Iowa Rep. Steve King, who was criticized for embracing white nationalism in a recent New York Times interview.
In an op-ed for The Washington Post published on Friday, Scott wrote that the GOP often struggles with “civility and fairness,” and pointed to King’s latest comments in which he asked when the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” became offensive.
The nine-term Iowa congressman’s remarks drew swift backlash from both sides of the aisle.
“When people with opinions similar to King’s open their mouths, they damage not only the Republican Party and the conservative brand but also our nation as a whole,” Scott opined. “They want to be treated with fairness for some perceived slights but refuse to return the favor to those on the other side.”
Facing backlash, King sought to clarify his statements Thursday, calling himself simply a “nationalist” and attempting to separate himself from people who “support this evil and bigoted ideology.” The lawmaker insisted he isn’t a racist, but Scott wasn’t buying it and chided other Republicans for being complicit.
“Some in our party wonder why Republicans are constantly accused of racism — it is because of our silence when things like this are said,” the senator wrote.
Scott, the GOP’s sole Black senator, rattled off examples of white nationalist terror that have rocked the country in recent years: the Kentucky man who fatally shot two African-Americans in a Kroger parking lot, the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., and the shooting massacre at a historic Black church in Scott’s hometown of Charleston.
“These are just a sliver of the havoc that white nationalists and white supremacists have strewn across our nation for hundreds of years,” he added. “Four little girls killed in a bombing in Birmingham, Ala., thousands lynched and countless hearts and minds turned cruel and hateful.”
Scott condemned King’s rhetoric and said it should be “ridiculed at every turn possible.” Silence is no longer accepted, he said, and King, nor “Black nationalists” like Louis Farrakhan, should be allowed to continue ripping at the fabric of our nation.
He concluded: “We have made significant progress in our nation, and while there is still work to do, we cannot let these intolerant and hateful views hold us back. This is a uniquely fractured time in our nation’s history, not our worst but far from our best, and it is only together that we will rebuild the trust we seem to have lost in each other.”
This article originally appeared in the Defender News Network.