Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) earlier this week promoted a far-right influencer with a history of Holocaust denial and anti-immigrant bigotry, who once tweeted, “Hitler had some good points. I think the Holocaust never actually happened.”
The post King highlighted on Nov. 16 came from Peter Sweden, a YouTube and Twitter personality who was telling his followers to “be a rebel” and “save society” through marriage, children and homeschooling. King quote-tweeted him ― stating “The best thing for our country is for good people to have a lot of babies and raise them right” ― before deleting the tweet with no explanation less than three hours later.
King’s office did not immediately respond on Friday to HuffPost’s request for comment about the congressman’s tweet and what led to his deleting it.
The tweet was posted at 8:10 a.m. Eastern time and was up for at least an hour on Saturday morning. King then deleted the quote-tweet and replaced it with a post at 10:28 a.m. that lacked the connection to the far-right account.
Peter Sweden is the pseudonym of Peter Imanuelsen, a media influencer who frequently tweets anti-immigrant and Islamophobic rhetoric. Until a few years ago, he also openly promoted violently homophobic and misogynist views, as well as Holocaust denial.
Imanuelsen has disavowed outright anti-Semitism in recent years, claiming to have abandoned his Holocaust denial and insisting that he is not a white nationalist. But he still posts far-right vitriol targeting Muslims, refugees and feminism. Although his public persona generally revolves around conflating immigration with crime and sexual assault in Sweden, Imanuelsen was born in Norway and as recently as 2012 had registered a business as a British national (he subsequently registered as Swedish). He has also appeared on extremist conspiracy outlets such as Infowars.
Imanuelsen contacted HuffPost after this article’s publication to restate his claim that he does not deny the occurrence of the Holocaust, adding that “the Holocaust was a horrible atrocity that should never happen again.”
“It’s disturbing yet not surprising that Rep. Steve King would quote tweet PeterSweden ― a far-right influencer notorious for his extreme racist, anti-Semitic, Christian fundamentalist, homophobic, Islamophobic, anti-feminist and conspiracist commentary, which in the past included Holocaust denial,” said a spokesperson from the Anti-Defamation League.
“As documented by ADL, Rep. King has a long history of dabbling in white nationalism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism. To quote tweet PeterSweden is right on brand for Rep. King. We have previously called on the House of Representatives to censure the Congressman for his behavior,” the spokesperson said.
King has repeatedly retweeted white nationalists and neo-Nazis, and has met with far-right politicians across Europe. Although he has rarely deleted such posts, he recently removed both his retweet of Imanuelsen and a Nov. 14 tweet promoting a conspiracy theory that billionaire George Soros’ son was the whistleblower whose report led to the House impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump.
King’s reference to “good people” having “a lot of babies” is also notable given his fixation on birth rates and his white nationalist worldview. Far-right politicians such as King have long stoked ethno-nationalist sentiment that immigrants are not true citizens, as well as tried to increase domestic birth rates as a means of shutting down immigration.
King gave an extensive interview last year to an Austrian far-right propaganda site lamenting that abortion was depriving the U.S. of babies and referencing immigration as “slow-motion cultural suicide.” The interview included references to the “great replacement” conspiracy theory popular among white nationalists and violent extremists such as the Christchurch, New Zealand, shooter.
The House Republican leadership stripped King of his committee assignments earlier this year after the congressman questioned why white supremacy and white nationalism were offensive in a New York Times interview.
Clarification: Language has been amended to characterize the particulars of Imanuelsen’s nationalities. The article has also been updated with comment from Imanuelsen.