In the letter to Ryan (R-Wis.), Jonathan Greenblatt, the Anti-Defamation League’s chief executive and national director, described “an extraordinarily disturbing series of involvements and statements by Representative Steve King that are anti-Semitic and offensive not just to the Jewish community, but to all Americans.”
Greenblatt said King’s behavior had “brought dishonor onto the House of Representatives” and called for Ryan to condemn the lawmaker’s actions, formally discipline him and strip him of his position as chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution and civil justice.
“By doing so, you will make clear that his actions were deeply offensive, wrong, and that the U.S. House of Representatives will not tolerate anti-Semitism or bigotry in any form,” Greenblatt wrote.
Ryan’s office declined to comment on the letter.
King has a long history of making inflammatory comments on race and immigration. But his actions have come under heightened scrutiny in the wake of Saturday’s mass shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, which has intensified a national debate over the rise of anti-Semitism.
Last year, King was widely criticized after he declared in a tweet that he agreed with far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders that “our civilization” cannot be restored “with somebody else’s babies.”
In June, King prompted criticism when he retweeted a message sent by Mark Collett, a self-described “Nazi sympathizer.” Then, earlier this month, King tweeted his support for Faith Goldy, who was running for Toronto mayor and has promoted the idea that there is a “white genocide” underway. And last week, it emerged that King had met in August with members of a far-right Austrian party with historical Nazi ties and declared that “Western civilization is on the decline.”
Greenblatt said that he had first drafted his letter to Ryan last week but that “after the events of this weekend, I knew that ADL could be silent no more.”
“What the moment demands is our country’s leaders, from all sectors of society, to make it crystal clear that anti-Semitism and hate have no place in the United States,” he said in the letter. “As the Speaker of the House, one of the most powerful elected officials in our nation, we believe you have an obligation to act and an opportunity to make a difference.”