Threatening to withdraw his Congressional Black Caucus membership if no action was taken, Florida Congressman Allen West sent a letter to Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chairman Emanuel Cleaver urging him to condemn the recent disparaging comments from fellow members about the Tea Party movement.
“It has come to my attention, from the numerous statements made by my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus over the last several weeks, that in order to cover for the failings of the Obama Administration and the economic policies which have led to unemployment of more than 15 percent in the Black community, the CBC strategy is to demonize the Tea Party,” West said in the introductory paragraph of a two page letter.
While alluding to numerous statements from his colleagues in the past few weeks, the Florida congressman referred to two specific instances. They came most recently from Indiana Congressman Andre Carson and California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who were reported to have made their comments within the span of little more than a week of each other.
“I’m saying right now under Chairman Emanuel Cleaver’s leadership, we have seen change in Congress. […]the Tea Party is stopping that change. And this is beyond symbolic change. This is the effort that we’re seeing of Jim Crow. Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second class citizens. Some of them in Congress right now of this Tea Party movement would love, would love to see you and me hanging on a tree,” said Congressman Carson, who also serves as the whip for the CBC, at a recent meeting.
In his letter, West called Carson’s claim “unconscionable.” He went on to state that Congressman Carson’s assertions against the Tea Party movement have no basis.
“Congressman Carson’s desire to generally criticize a large grassroots group as racist is baseless and desperate. When individuals believe they are defeated in political disagreement, they normally resort to race-baiting, which in my opinion is in itself racist,” West said.
West also took offense with Congresswoman Waters’ comments, calling them appalling. While the mainstream media noted only a portion of her incendiary comments, fellow contributor W.E. Messamore did a superb job of tracking down her statement in full.
“This is a tough game. You can’t be intimidated. You can’t be frightened. And as far as I’m concerned- the Tea Party can go straight to hell. And-and-I intend to help get there,” she said according to Mr. Messamore’s post.
Highlighting the fact that the Tea Party movement has condemned racist statements from those who claim to be a part of the movement, West defended the Tea Party as a being primarily driven by their advocacy of fiscal responsibility. Furthermore, invoking Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy to judge people by the content of their character and not their skin, he called for the Chairman and his fellow members to work together in moving forward to get all of the country back on track.
“I look forward to having a productive discussion with you and the entire Congressional Black Caucus on how we can begin to reverse the trends of the last few years and sense of American Exceptionalism that transcends the concept of the ‘Balkanization’ of our country. The American people- all American people- expect nothing less from their Representatives in Congress.”