Rep. Steve King Clarifies Remarks About 'White People' Doing More for Civilization

PHOTO: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, addresses the Faith & Freedom Coalitions Road to Majority conference which featured speeches by conservative politicians at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, June 18, 2015.Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, addresses the Faith & Freedom Coalitions Road to Majority conference which featured speeches by conservative politicians at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, June 18, 2015.

Rep. Steve King clarified his controversial comments about “white people” doing more for civilization than any other "subgroup," explaining that he was actually referring to "Western civilization."

The Iowa Republican had said Monday afternoon on an MSNBC panel, "This whole white people business, though, does get a little tired. … 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?"

He didn't back away from his comments in an interview with ABC News Monday night, but said he meant to refer to "Western civilization" as the "superior culture" when he said "the whole white peoples business" line.

"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 told ABC News.

"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 responding to, and correcting, political blogger Charlie Pierce, who was also on the panel. King said that he wasn't particularly bothered by the media attention because it started a dialogue on the matter.

"But what we have is people who are trying to parse something, to hyperventilate about that," King told ABC News. "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."