Allen West’s Foolish Neo-McCarthyism

Things haven’t calmed down for Florida Rep. Allen West after he called members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus “communists.” This is particularly ironic since the first Progressive Party in the U.S. was started by the Republican Theodore Roosevelt in 1912. West has asserted that there is a “fine line” between progressives and communists, which only reveals his own ignorance about political ideologies.

Comparing West to the king of red scare tactics, Joe McCarthy, is easy. Just as McCarthy refused to reveal names of the communists that he claimed that he had uncovered, West also refused to name the 80 communists that he claimed fill the Congressional chambers. While pressed by Soledad O’Brien from CNN, West refused to give names while stating that he was talking about “ideology and principles.”

West is still feeling the repercussions of that remark. Over the weekend, he was scheduled to speak at a fundraiser for an NAACP chapter in his district. The NAACP decided to reschedule the event for September and cancel West’s invitation to speak. The Congressional Progressive Caucus shares a similar platform to the NAACP. Calling one communists and trying to raise money for the other doesn’t fit well.

It is surprising that the NAACP would have West speak anyway. Less than two years ago, West castigated the NAACP by calling it a “political hack job organization.” He suggested that the organization is “stupid” and operates as “useful idiots.” West wrongly attributed the “useful idiots” phrase to Lenin. There is no proof that Lenin ever used the term, but that is par with West’s unfamiliarity with the facts since he seems to be confused by what a communist is anyway.

It is clear why the NAACP dumped West, but the real question is why they invited him in the first place. I presume they were trying to be nonpartisan but why would an organization criticized as strongly as West has done to them want to bring the Congressman in to raise money? It might make sense to have West come before them to speak to explain himself, but to fundraise? That would be like one of the members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus coming to fundraise for West.

What is truly alarming is not that West is copying McCarthy’s tactics sixty years later, but the loose, rambling and unsubstantiated charges by West and others has become the dominant theme in today’s political debate. There isn’t one McCarthy running around spouting misinformation, or even one West, but an entire mob of sheep twitching and jumping back and forth as calls of wolf shriek on and off. Everyone claims to know the truth, but no one understands it. The entire political atmosphere has been poisoned by this name calling. West is just another of the cheerleaders.

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