Thursday, August 27, 2009

Clearing some air with Congressman King

Kiron pol takes fair shot at ‘Taking Note’

It is no news flash to readers of “Taking Note” (in the Carroll Daily Times Herald) that this column has been used with some frequency in the last 13 years to vigorously challenge our congressman Steve King.

A skilled orator and turner of phrases, King often presents views in provocative fashion.

This column has pulled no punches on calling out the congressman where we find him wrongheaded.

In a strongly worded but civil exchange with me following his town-hall meeting in Carroll on Wednesday, King, a Kiron Republican who represents Iowa’s 5th Congressional District, offered reasonable criticism.

Put another way, the congressman called me out. And he has a point.

King doesn’t mind the colorful barbs, the political shots. King trades in those, too. They are the coin of the realm in American politics, and have been since British colonial rule.

But King took issue with my direct labeling of him as a “racist” — which I have done. (In a column in March 2008 in which King expressed concerns about President Barack Obama's name and a June 2007 piece about King's thoughts on declining birth rates among certain Europeans.)

When I asked King a question Wednesday afternoon about the GOP gubernatorial race and how his own foot-dragging with a decision may delay important commitments from those who have long supported both King and State Rep. Roberts, R-Carroll, who is in the race, King said he’d happily take the question (See related story on Page 1 of the Carroll Daily Times Herald). But he wanted to clear the air first.

“That’s a well-stated question, Doug,” King said. “Let’s just compartmentalize some animosity here before I move to answer that question. You know that that exists between us. I’ll just tell you the heart of that is this: in one of your articles you labeled me a racist in print. And I take great offense to that.”

He added, “I’m not going to get engaged in a debate, and I’m not going to defend myself. I think my life’s activities do that well enough.”

We moved back to the 2010 race for Terrace Hill, and King fielded some more questions from me and Daily Times Herald reporter Butch Heman.

Following the session at the Santa Maria winery, I told King that while the column will continue to challenge and criticize him it will never again affix the label of racist to him.

King is right. That’s not fair on my part. I cannot divine what’s in Congressman King’s heart, and our public discourse is limited by the quick-draw labeling of people as “sexist” or “racist.” I have been called both.

Where this matter is concerned I will quote King and let readers draw their own conclusions as to the content of his words. There is much nuance where race is concerned and what may appear prejudiced to one person comes across as according to Hoyle to the other.

1 comment:

Mark Knowles said...

"I think my life’s activities do that well enough"

Such as...?