Faith leaders in Iowa are speaking out about Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who has endorsed Nazi sympathizers and promoted white-nationalist rhetoric.
In a letter obtained by The Daily Beast, intended to be published in the Des Moines Register later, the presidents of the Adas Israel congregation in Mason City and the Ames Jewish Congregation take King to task for his words and his recent meeting with far-right Austrians with historical Nazi ties while on a trip funded by a Holocaust memorial group.
“We are writing from the depths of our grief, in horror at the news of the Tree of Life synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh,” wrote Alan Steckman, of Adas Israel, and John Pleasants of the Ames congregation, according to a draft of the letter viewed by The Daily Beast. “We feel we must speak out because our Congressional Representative, Steve King, is an enthusiastic crusader for the same types of abhorrent beliefs held by the Pittsburgh shooter.”
Pleasants informed The Daily Beast that they are still working on getting it published in the Des Moines paper in some capacity before Election Day.
“King’s regular meetings with the white supremacist group in Austria founded by an SS officer are not new,” the letter continued. “But the recent discovery, that King used funds from a Holocaust education organization to meet with a notoriously anti-Semitic propaganda site is shocking beyond any previous outrage. King’s latest cynical machinations are intolerable to us as Iowans and as Jews. King’s long promotion of white supremacist ideology has gone unchallenged by his colleagues for so long that even this most recent outrage—revealed just days before the Pittsburgh massacre—did not elicit comment.”
They also call on financial backers to abandon King, as at least two have done, including major companies like Intel and Land O’ Lakes.
“We call on all elected officials to stand with Iowa’s Jewish community, denounce King’s actions, and hold him accountable,” the letter added. "We call on King’s donors to cut off their financial support. Intel and Land O’ Lakes recently took this long overdue step and we expect the same from Berkshire Hathaway, AT&T, and the American Bankers Association. We call on King to apologize to all Holocaust survivors, their families, and the Iowa Jewish community.”
“When King promoted white supremacist ideology, many of us we were silent. We will not be silent now. Stand with us in denouncing Steve King and the ideology he promotes,” the letter concluded.
A separate letter was drafted as well with a similar message and signed by an interfaith group in Ames.