Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls out media for its weak description of Steve King

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks at a rally calling on Sen. Jeff Flake to reject Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. (Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

As Iowa Rep. Steve King faces increasing scrutiny over whether he supports white supremacy and white nationalism, fellow member of Congress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is weighing in on the issue. The New York representative took to Twitter to call out the media for shying away from calling King an all-out racist.

“NEWS: @SteveKingIA said he ‘initiated’ a convo today w/ @SteveScalise to inform them he would speak on floor to address his racially-tinged remarks. Said GOP leadership hasn’t indicated any intention to censure in any way. Story TK,” Washington Examiner writer David Drucker tweeted on Friday.

“You spelled ‘racist’ wrong,” Ocasio-Cortez responded. “At this point those who use the terms ‘racially tinged’ or ‘racially charged’ to describe white supremacy should be prepared to explain why they chose to employ those terms instead of ‘racist’/‘racism.’ If the answer is their own discomfort, they’re protecting the wrong people.”

Drucker had been previewing his report on House Republicans’ response to King’s interview in the New York Times, in which King asked, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”

King has since said that quote was taken out of context, but it follows years of similarly racist and nationalist statements made by the politician.

In addition to criticizing King, Ocasio-Cortez called attention to the way some in the media and politics soften the way they describe racist sentiments. Scholars and historians have pointed this out as a trend that began as far back as the civil rights era, when politicians began to use more euphemistic means to argue against desegregation and equal rights legislation.

“The language of ‘tinged’ and ‘charged’ suggests that race can be overemphasized and exaggerated, but elides the fact that any biological notion of race is a fiction, while racism is a very real language of power,” Lawrence B. Glickman, an American studies professor at Cornell University, wrote in the Boston Review last fall. “This masks that, as history tells us, phrases described as ‘racially tinged’ always involve assertions of race hierarchy, power, and privilege.”

On Twitter, many backed up Ocasio-Cortez’s argument, and Drucker himself conceded the point.

“Appreciate the edit,” he tweeted.

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