Congressman Steve King's (R-IA) comments regarding the "joy" that a Barack Obama presidency would bring to "radical Islamists" are despicable, but they do not stand alone in two important respects. On the one hand, they echo outrageous comments that have become commonplace among right-wing commentators and radio talk show hosts. More disturbingly, they reflect a pattern of bizarre comments made by Congressman King on too many instances in the past.
King once dismissed the shameful horrors of Abu Ghraib as mere "hazing;" he advocated treating "illegals" like "livestock;" and even once denounced efforts to give revolutionary war hero General Pulaski posthumous citizenship as being akin to "amnesty."
Some have called for King to apologize, and others have called for Senator McCain to repudiate his views. These should be done, but they are not enough. This situation should be seen as being beyond partisanship and politics.
King is not merely some quack with a loose and tasteless mouth, venting his venom on a radio show, he is the Ranking Member of House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law. His words matter.
If a member of parliament in a foreign country were to have made equally despicable and bigoted comments, we would be right to demand that action be taken against that individual. King must be held accountable by his colleagues for his remarks, which send a dangerous message to the world. He should be formally censured by the Congress, so as to make it clear that remarks such as these are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.