Republican Representative Steve King delivered controversial racial comments on live TV on 18 July during a panel discussion on MSNBC's pre-convention show. King claimed he was tired of complaints regarding whiteness and ask what other "subgroup" had contributed more to society than white people.

The segment was discussing diversity in the Republican Party when Esquire's Charlie Pierce said that the mood on the GOP convention floor was fuelled by white anger. The Iowa congressman quickly shot back at the perceived slight against white people.

"This whole business does get a little tired," King says. "I would ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people you are talking about. Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?"

The panelists had prior to King's comments, had just been talking about black Americans and Mexicans.

MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes, visibly taken aback by the congressman's comments, asked, "Than white people?"

King responded: "The Western civilization itself. That's rooted in western Europe, eastern Europe and the United States of America, and every place where Christianity settled that world. That's all of Western civilization."

King's remarks were quickly denounced on social media, with politicians, reporters and regular netizens saying his comments were racist and calling for his resignation. Hayes took to Twitter to apologise for not allowing his panellist April D Ryan—Ryan is an African American journalist and author—respond and to explain why he shut down the conversation soon after King's comments.

"The entire notion of debating which race/civilisation/'sub group' contributed most or is best is as odious as it is preposterous," Hayes tweeted, adding, " Which is why I said 'we're not debating this here.' But I hear people who think I made the wrong call in the moment. Maybe I did."

Vanity Fair noted that King is known for keeping a Confederate battle flag on his desk and for previously accusing Muslim Americans—including Muslim members of Congress—of refusing to "renounce Sharia law".