Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) defended his party's lack of diversity Monday, asking if any other group had contributed more to society than Western civilization.

During an MSNBC panel on the first night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, the group was discussing presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Saudi Arabia paid 0 million for cost of US troops in area Parnas claims ex-Trump attorney visited him in jail, asked him to sacrifice himself for president MORE's rhetoric toward minority groups.


King, a former supporter of Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSeven things to know about the Trump trial All the frontrunners could survive initial Iowa test Republicans face internal brawl over impeachment witnesses MORE (R-Texas), said he believes Trump has "modified" himself in this way.

But Esquire's Charles Pierce, who was also on the panel, noted the GOP convention didn't have much diversity.

"If you're really optimistic, you can say that this is the last time that old white people will command the Republican Party's attention, its platform, its public face," Pierce said.  

"That hall is wired by loud, unhappy, dissatisfied white people," he added.

But King pushed back: "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’re talking about?

"Where did any other sub-group of people contribute more to civilization?"

When MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes pressed King, asking if he meant "white people," King said: "Than, than Western civilization itself. 

"It's rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the United States of America and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world. That's all of Western civilization."

The other panelists objected, with black journalist April Ryan asking: "What about Asia? What about Africa?"

"We're not going to argue the history of Western civilization," Hayes said, ending the debate.