Rep. Allen West (R-FL), the hard-line conservative Tea Partier who is currently the only Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus, is now saying that he might quit the group — if they don’t condemn remarks made by fellow member Rep. André Carson (D-IN) attacking Republicans.
“Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second-class citizens,” Carson told a CBC event in Miami. “Some of them in Congress right now with this Tea Party movement would love to see you and me — hanging on a tree.”
This has West — who has made no small amount of racially inflammatory remarks about Democrats and African-American voters — calling for the CBC to denounce Carson, who holds a leadership position as CBC whip.
“It is unconscionable when a fellow CBC Member, Congressman Andre Carson, comes to South Florida and claims that some in the Tea Party would love to see black Americans ‘hanging on a tree,’” West wrote Wednesday in a letter to CBC chair Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), which he also released to the media. “It is appalling to hear another CBC colleague, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, say ‘The Tea Party can go straight to hell.’
“As Chairman of the CBC, I believe it is incumbent on you to both condemn these types of hate-filled comments, and to disassociate the Congressional Black Caucus from these types of remarks. Otherwise, I will have to seriously reconsider my membership within the organization.”
West also added:
Congressman Carson’s desire to generally criticize a large grassroots group as racist is baseless and desperate. When individuals believe they are defeated in a political disagreement, they normally resort to race-baiting, which in my opinion is in itself racist.
As a member of the CBC, I look forward to working with you to help end this practice. All of us, especially Congressman Carson, Congresswoman Waters and others who have engaged in racially-motivated rhetoric, should follow the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., not the example of Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
The full letter is available here.
For his part, West has made his fair share of racially loaded remarks about Democrats. Two weeks ago, he compared Democrats’ overwhelming margins among black voters to the “plantation” of the slavery era, and likened liberal African-American politicians such as Maxine Waters to “overseers” — the men who committed the day-to-day atrocities of ruling over slaves in the antebellum South.
“So I’m here as the modern-day Harriet Tubman,” West declared, “to kind of lead people on the Underground Railroad, away from that plantation into a sense of sensibility.”
Also in mid-July, following his exchange with DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) — in which West responded to her attacks against his vote to privatize Medicare with a letter telling her that she had “proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady” — West also declared that Democrats were targeting him because he was a black conservative.
“What we do is we totally invalidate the liberal social welfare policies and programs,” he said. “And you know, I’m the threat because I’m the guy that got off their 21st-century plantation, and they cannot afford to have a strong voice such as mine out there, reverberating and resonating across this country.”