Congressman Allen West represents Florida’s 22nd Congressional District. He was the first black Republican congressman elected in Florida since 1976, which you have to admit is a pretty admirable achievement. In fact, he’s one of only four black Republicans in Congress since the Reconstruction, so good on him for that. Rep. West, though, is a bit of a firestarter. He’s a Tea Party darling who just does not know when to use his inside voice instead of doing what Tea Party types seem to do better than anyone else: shoot their mouths off loudly and publicly about every dipshit thought that crosses their minds. We’ve spent plenty of time on these pages ridiculing people like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann for mouthing off about things they know nothing about and for gleefully brutalizing history, but West is a bit of a special case. Every time he opens his mouth, something absolutely, wince-inducingly idiotic comes out. It’s like he can’t not be a complete knuckle-dragging asshole.
Let’s lay out a little background about West and his district before we get too far into why he needs to learn what any well-behaved three-year-old has already mastered.
Lt. Colonel Allen West served in the United States Army for over twenty years. He fought in Iraq (both times!) and served as an advisor in Afghanistan. These are admirable things. Regardless of my reputation as a peacenik socialist, I do not despise our armed forces or the people who serve in them. They are, of course, an essential part of international politics, and have been since the first two cavemen ganged up on the third. What’s slightly less admirable, though, is how he left the Army. While serving in Iraq, Lt. Col. West received intel about a possible attack on his unit that implicated a civilian Iraqi police officer. West had the officer detained and, though he had never interrogated a suspect before, had no qualifications or authorization to do so, and had in fact never even seen an actual interrogation, took it upon himself to have his men beat some answers out of the suspect. The interrogation ended with West firing a pistol off near the suspect’s head, which scared him into spilling his guts. Unfortunately, it turned out that the guts he spilled were completely horseshit, and even West admitted in his inquest that it was “meaningless information induced by fear and pain”. More investigation turned up absolutely no evidence that such an attack had ever been planned. You can read all about the incident in this New York Times article.
What this incident shows me, from the standpoint of West’s character, is that he is not afraid to rabidly attack anything he perceives as a threat without going through proper channels or, apparently, making sure that his sources are credible. Or really even thinking it through very well. Now, whether this was acting boldly on the information he had in an effort to save lives or going all fucking Jack Bauer on someone based on faulty information is not for me to decide. It’s for a military court to decide. And they decided to levy a Non-judicial punishment on him with a fine of $5000. West tipped his hat and promptly retired from the Army with full benefits to pursue a career in politics.
And just a few words about West’s district, if I may. It covers most of Palm Beach and West Palm Beach, Boca Raton and a big chunk of Ft. Lauderdale. This is only marginally important in the grand scale of things, but it bears keeping in mind that the area contained in the 22nd district is some of the most confusing demographics you’ll ever come across. First and foremost, it is a wealthy district. Ideologically, though, it’s all over the goddamned map. There are crusty old Republican retirees, flagrant liberal homosexuals and just about everything in between, in fairly equal numbers. The race for the district’s congressional seat was one of the most expensive in 2010. It is also worth mentioning that this was the district at the heart of the 2000 presidential recount brouhaha. You know, just so you can get a clear picture of how fucked West’s constituency is, politically speaking.
So what has West been saying that’s so deserving of scorn? Oh shit, am I ever glad you asked!
Let’s ease you into it with some of the less intense stuff. His most recent fracas arose from an email he wrote to the head of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schutlz, who had admittedly been sorta harsh for a Democrat when she kinda-sorta called out West in her criticism of the “Cut, Cap and Balance” bill. Check out this vitriol:
The gentleman from Florida, who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries, unbelievable from a Member from South Florida.
In response, West – who was not on the floor at the time of Wasserman-Schultz’s brutal fucking character assassination – wrote an email to his apparent new nemesis which he copied to Republican leader Eric Cantor as well as Democratic leader Nanci Pelosi. The response was, in my professional opinion as someone who has been around spoiled children most of my adult life, the snottiest brand of temper tantrum, and included these gems:
Let me make myself perfectly clear, you want a personal fight, I am happy to oblige. You are the most vile, unprofessional ,and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up.
You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!
…and, puzzlingly, was signed:
Steadfast and Loyal
Congressman Allen B West (R-FL)
Now, I haven’t seen any evidence that Wasserman-Schultz deliberately waited until West was off the floor to deliver her statement, so that bit of “come at me, bro!” is just defensive bullying as far as I’m concerned. As for the rest…well, I think it speaks for itself. You can read the entire email at Politico if you want to, but I really printed most of it here.
So why such a disproportionate reaction from West? One can assume he’s still a little butt-sore over a protest that Wasserman-Schultz attended outside his campaign headquarters in October of 2010. (Note: the link I provided is from a pretty douchey right-wing blog, but I couldn’t find a single non-right-wing article about the incident, oddly enough). Poor baby. Someone said something about you that you didn’t like, which made you sad. You’d think that would make you think for a moment before you, I don’t know, did something like…
…say that Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota, if that makes any difference to you), who is one of only two Muslims in congress, is “the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established.” You know, because he’s a Muslim, and this country is based on religious freedom, not…well…the freedom to be a Muslim, I guess. Or…
…fucking go off on those “Coexist” bumper stickers. No, really. I’m seriously not making this up. At a public forum, West said:
[A]s I was driving up here today, I saw that bumper sticker that absolutely incenses me. It’s not the Obama bumper sticker. But it’s the bumper sticker that says, ‘Co-exist.’ And it has all the little religious symbols on it. And the reason why I get upset, and every time I see one of those bumper stickers, I look at the person inside that is driving. Because that person represents something that would give away our country. Would give away who we are, our rights and freedoms and liberties because they are afraid to stand up and confront that which is the antithesis, anathema of who we are. The liberties that we want to enjoy.
Wait…what? That must’ve just been a bad day. Maybe his suit itched, or the car with the “Coexist” bumper sticker cut him off or something. He can’t really believe that…
[Islam is a] very vile and very vicious enemy that we have allowed to come in this country because we ride around with bumper stickers that say co-exist.
Well, West must have some knowledge of the fundamentals of Islamic thought if he’s going to make such a strong statement, right? He could clearly stand up to some solid questioning on the matter…
…when a Muslim questioner asked him to note the passage in the Quran where it commands Muslims “to carry out attacks against Americans and innocent people.” In his response to the man’s defense of moderate Islam, West told him not to “try to blow sunshine up my butt.”
OH SHIT! Wow, alright. Sure, I mean, the man is bound to have a negative view of Muslims, having spent much of his adult life at war with them. Surely that’s his only vice. He can’t have anything this shockingly stupid to say about non-Muslims, right? Right?
During an interview with the New York Times last month, Rep. Allen West (R-FL)…said that the President should put himself in harm’s way with U.S. troops when he travels to war zones just to show that he is a true leader. “[I]f I’m asking my young men and women to go out there and put their lives on the line, I should be willing and able to do the exact same thing,” he said.
Well, that’s pretty reasonb-what?! The president – who has no military background whatsoever – should go sit out on the front lines to prove that he’s a good leader? But…but even the fucking generals don’t do that! That sounds like pretty bad policy, Mr. West. But hey, we’re going to let that example slide because you’re probably one of the dipshits who still claims to believe that Obama is a secret Muslim, and I did specifically say non-Muslims. Got anything against about half of the United States of America?
I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool.
Though, I guess I have to be fair and say that referring to people being a threat to the gene pool is an indirect endorsement of evolution, so you get half a point on that one.
Ok, I think we’ve seen enough here. Is there anything else you’d like to add, Congressman? Maybe something to take a dig at feminism and assert your way outdated, military-man idea of masculinity?
…let these other women know, on the other side, these Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women who have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness, to let them know that we are not going to have our men become subservient.
Oh, ok. So I’m a neutered, subservient pussy now. Clearly I should be writing you a moderately strongly-worded email about your vile unprofessionalism. At least this was part of a debate about something that in any way has to do with gender roles, right?
That’s what we need you to do. Because if we don’t, then the debt will continue to grow.
Oh Allen West. I…I honestly don’t know what to say to you other than a sincere, heartfelt and very emphatic “shut the fuck up”.