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Steve King: Geert Wilders tweet sparks a social media backlash

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Geert Wilders (left) listens as Republican Steve King (centre) speaks during a press conference in Washington DC, 30 April 2015

Senior Republican congressman Steve King has sparked a backlash on social media after tweeting his support for the Dutch anti-Islam politician, Geert Wilders.

“Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny,” Mr King wrote on Twitter.

“We can’t restore our civilisation with somebody else’s babies,” he added.

The US Republican Representative of Iowa is a strong advocate of putting a stop to birthright citizenship.

All children born in the US currently get citizenship under the constitution, including the children of families living in America illegally.

Mr King has pushed for radical reform of the interpretation of the 14th amendment of the US constitution so that it no longer gives the children of undocumented migrants the right to a US passport.

Silence from Republicans – by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

It seems Donald Trump is not the only politician who can bring social media to a screeching halt with an inflammatory tweet. Congressman Steve King has a history of walking on the edge of white nationalist rhetoric, and on Sunday afternoon he once again hit the hornet’s nest, perhaps in his most direct manner yet.

The outrage from Democratic politicians and commentators across the political spectrum was quick, ferocious and entirely expected. The bluntness of Mr King’s message, the talk of “our destiny” and “other people’s babies”, ensured a vigorous response.

Of greater interest will be how Republican officeholders handle the controversy. So far they have remained silent. That may be increasingly difficult, as this is yet another indication of the growing bonds between the Trump wing of the Republican Party and white nationalist movements in Europe.

Breitbart, the conservative media outlet recently headed by White House senior advisor Steve Bannon, often sings the praises of Mr Wilders, as well as France’s Marine Le Pen and Frauke Petry, leader of the Alternative for Germany Party.

Mr Bannon has predicted the coming of a new “alt-right” order that will disrupt politics across the West. The question is whether establishment Republicans stay along for the ride.

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Mr King’s comments in support of Mr Wilders on Sunday led to accusations that he was “openly peddling white nationalism”.

His post was retweeted by the former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, with the words “sanity reigns supreme”.

Mr Duke later tweeted: “God bless Steve King.”

David Duke:

But many were quick to denounce Mr King, including former US President Bill Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea Clinton, who described the Republican’s comments as “painful”.

Chelsea Clinton writes on Twitter:
Former independent presidential candidate writes:
Twitter user Dan Pfeiffer writes:
Twitter user Reid Ribble writes:

Speaking to the BBC’s Adam Smith last year, Mr King said that “millions” of people were expected to enter the US “illegally and unlawfully” in the years to come, with “a birth rate that exceeds that of the American citizen by a factor of two or more”.

“That their children would all be citizens would be beyond the pale of the imagination of the people who ratified the 14th amendment,” he said.

  • Profile: Dutch politician Geert Wilders
  • Video: I will never be silent, says Wilders

Mr Wilders, whose populist Freedom Party is expected to do well in Dutch parliamentary elections later this month, has been under 24-hour police protection for more than a decade due to death threats.

He was found guilty of hate speech over his promise to reduce the number of Moroccans in the country last year but no penalty was imposed.

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