Steve King (R-Iowa) went all “Steve King” again and made another blatantly racist claim at a Tea Party rally: he declared that people from Latin America are inherently more violent than people in the United States, and that violent tendencies increase the further one goes from the U.S. border. Here’s King in his own words:
“If you bring people from a violent civilization into a less-violent civilization, you’re going to have more violence right? It’s like pouring hot water into cold water, does it raise the temperature or not?”
Steve King is openly racist. But is there some truth to what he’s saying? No, there isn’t. The claim that violence increases as you go further south in Latin America is false, and it’s not close to being true. The highest intentional homicide rate per capita in the Americas belongs to Honduras (91.6 homicides per 100,000 people), which is right in the middle of Central America. Honduras is followed by its neighbor, El Salvador (69.2). Argentina (3.4), which stretches all the way down South America, has a homicide rate lower than that of the U.S. (4.8).
And what about Steve King’s claim that Latin Americans would be “hot water” raising the temperature of the U.S.’s cool, nonviolent waters? That one doesn’t stand up to the numbers either. The states with the highest rates of violent crime, according to 2011 FBI statistics, are
1. Washington D.C. (1202 violent crimes per 100,000 people, 7.4% Hispanic)
2. Tennessee (608, 2.0%)
3. Alaska (607, 2.6%)
4. South Carolina (572, 2.1%)
5. New Mexico (568, 46.0%)
So Steve King’s claim that Hispanic people are more violent doesn’t check out in the U.S. or south of the border. Racism isn’t just offensive and demeaning, it’s factually inaccurate. The Republican Party needs an equally vocal spokesperson on immigration who respects Latin Americans as equal to white people. That isn’t even step 1 to winning back the trust of the Hispanic vote, that’s step 0.