Commentary: This Time You’ve Gone Too Far, Mr. West

Allen West’s invoking of slavery should be unforgivable to African-Americans.

Posted: 07/12/2012 11:37 AM EDT
Rep. Allen West

When it comes to hurling insults at their political opponents, nobody does it better than the GOP. The extreme to which some Republican politicians go with their half-truths, insinuations and insults boggles the mind of any American with a clear head and a sincere concern for decency and truth. This brings me to the distinguished gentleman from Florida, Allen West.

West, a right wing conservative African-American Republican Congressman and Tea Party favorite, is no exception to this behavior. Over the past few years, he has used incendiary, hyperbolic language to take aim at his ideological opponents. He publically accused members of the Democratic Party (mainly members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which includes some members of the Congressional Black Caucus) of being card-carrying members of the Communist Party, with no evidence to substantiate his outrageous claim.

More recently, West made headlines when he accused President Barack Obama, America’s first Black president, of wanting to enslave Americans simply because he wants to ensure that our nation has a social safety net for those who truly need it, such as disabled veterans. You would think that Rep. West, a retired Army colonel, would understand that; unfortunately, he doesn’t. He recently called Social Security for the disabled, many of whom are veterans, “21st Century slavery.” This time Mr. West has gone too far with his political rhetoric.

As African-Americans, our ancestors were brought here in chains and forced to work like beasts for centuries with no pay. I highly resent West’s evoking the specter of slavery to justify his disdain for President Obama and castigating any social program that West and his Tea Party buddies don’t like. West’s glib evocation of African-American bondage to score political brownie points with his ultra-right wing constituency — a group generally indifferent to the plight of people of color and the poor — literally flies in the face of all the pain and sacrifices our beloved ancestors endured so that we would have a better life. For that, there can be no forgiveness. That is why I urge everyone in Congressman West’s district to do the right thing for Florida and America and vote him out of office come election time.

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