Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King caused an uproar when he appeared on MSNBC and said white people are the only group responsible for the advancement of civilization.
King's comment was in response to Esquire writer Charles P. Pierce, who criticized the role of "old white people" in the Republican party.
“This whole ‘old white people’ business does get a little tired, Charlie. I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you are talking about? Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?” King asked.
“Than white people?” MSNBC host Chris Hayes prompted.
“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," King responded. "That’s all of Western civilization.”
The comments were rebuked as openly racist.
On Monday evening, King went on ABC News and doubled down.
"It’s pretty close [to what I said]. What I really said was 'Western civilization' and when you describe Western civilization that can mean much of Western civilization happens to be Caucasians. But we should not apologize for our culture or our civilization," King said, according to the network. "The contributions that were made by Western civilization itself, and by Americans, by Americans of all races stand far above the rest of the world. The Western civilization and the American civilization are a superior culture."
King said he was open to criticism because it leads to "dialogue."
"But what we have is people who are trying to parse something, to hyperventilate about that," King told ABC. "I’m OK if they do that because it starts the dialogue so we can open up more minds so people can think about what’s right for America."
Watch King's original statement, as posted to YouTube, here: