U.S. Rep. Allen West, who said last week that he believes 78 to 81 members of Congress are “members of the Communist Party,” is not interested in retracting or apologizing for that ridiculous false statement, although he did say some things on CNN this morning that imply he didn’t mean “members of the Communist Party” quite as literally as it sounds.
Even when he first made his statement at a town hall meeting in his district, West seemed to conflate the membership of the House Progressive Caucus (of which Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison is a co-chair) with membership in the Communist Party.
He repeated that this morning when CNN’s Soledad O’Brien asked him whether, when he said “members of the Community Party,” he meant card-carrying members.
“I’m calling it this,” West said. “Communist progressive, Marxist, socialist, statist, which is another term that’s been used. I’m looking at the ideologies. I’m looking at the things that they believe in. And if you don’t think we have to stand upon truth and be able to identify and clearly contrast the different principles and values and ideologies and principles of governance here in this country, then we’re never going to get to the fact of accepting the true debate that’s happening in America.”
If West believes the “Communist, progressive, Marxist, socialist and statist” all mean the same thing, then he is not a terribly perceptive student of the ideological spectrum. Perhaps, if one was grading on a steep curve, one could say that the idea that “Communist” and “progressive” are synonymous is not so much a falsehood as a misguided opinion.
But even on that curve, you can’t square it with West’s original ridiculosity which went thus:
“I believe it is about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party.”
By the way. West was responding to a question from the audience about how many “card-carrying” Marxists or socialists were in the Congress. It’s not a statement of opinion but a statement of fact that someone is a member of the Communist Party.
As a matter of honor, West needs to retract the original statement, which he absolutely refused to do on CNN this morning. Once he has said that his original statement was false and that he is not aware of any of his colleagues who are literally “members of the Communist Party,” then he can discuss his beliefs about the ideological spectrum.
But until he does that, he is a Know-Nothing, but not literally a member of the political party called the “Know Nothings,” which actually called itself the “American Party” and attracted considerable support in the 1850s for a racist, nativist ideology.
Here’s West on CNN, the stuff about his “communists” statement starts at the 2:23 mark: