Iowa Rep. Steve King offered a pretty precise ratio for the number of immigrants he thinks are drug mules versus those who are good students: 100 to 1. And though he did not offer a source for that ratio, he defended his comments, saying those who think otherwise aren't thinking at all. Some of those people are his fellow House Republicans, who called King's comments "hateful" and "inexcusable."
In an interview with Newsmax last week, King said for every one undocumented immigrant who's a valedictorian, "there's another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert." The comments didn't get much attention till Tuesday. That's when King defended his remarks to radio host O.Kay Henderson, saying, "I will tell you that people that are involved in drug smuggling that would be legalized under this, if history is any guide, it will be in the many multiples of those who are valedictorians." Further, he said of his statement:
"...it had gone out on the Internet and on the airwaves for days out there and it was relatively dormant until another member of congress decided that he was offended and, of course, he didn’t have an alternative number. He didn’t suggest that there are more valedictorians than there are drug mules, but it’s enough for anybody to be offended these days. They apparently don’t have to use their brain."
King's comments are fascinating for several reasons. One, he thinks it's self-evident that there are 100 drug mules for each valedictorian. Two, he apparently thinks you're either the top of your class or a drug mule, with no room for a few immigrants here and there who might be students who are just mediocre but nevertheless not drug runners. Three, King seems to have trusted that the conservative media would be a closed loop. His comments were "dormant," living only on the conservative side of the Internet, until someone dredged them up.
But there was more than one member of Congress who did not like King's comments. Many who were outraged were Republicans. "What he said is wrong," House Speaker John Boehner said. House Majority Leadeer Eric Cantor said the comments were "inexcusable." Texas Rep. Ted Poe tweeted they were "inflammatory and hateful comments." South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy said they were "reprehensible." According to Roll Call, when reporters asked Gowdy how to keep people like King from saying such things, Gowdy replied, "You can't."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.