Allen West: the New Joe McCarthy?

Congressman Allen West (R-Fla.) is being heavily criticized for comments alleging that certain Democratic members of Congress are communists, and he is not backing down. West dared to quantify his accusation, claiming there are “78 to 81” Congressional Democrats who are communists.

I want to say three things relating to West’s remarks: First, some criticism of West’s critics. Second, a defense of West’s critics. And, finally, some criticism of West, which I offer constructively. I like Allen West and want him to succeed.

First, on West’s critics:

Their concern about West’s exaggeration and name-calling has little credibility coming from an ideology (liberalism) and political party (Democrats) who constantly engage in exaggeration and name-calling. I could point out a litany of examples. It’s as easy as the latest liberal/Democrat gambit accusing Republicans of a “war on women” merely because they believe the federal government shouldn’t force taxpayers to fund contraception and Planned Parenthood. For that crime, West’s colleague Maxine Waters called Republicans “demons.” Nancy Pelosi said they want women to “die on the floor.” Dianne Feinstein insisted they want “to sock it to women.” Harry Reid claimed Republicans have placed a “bull’s eye on women.” Barbara Boxer described it as a “vendetta” against women. Congresswoman Barbara Lee summed it up as a GOP “war on women.”

I could go on and on. Google the words “George W. Bush” and “Hitler” or “Nazi.” Or recall the obscene statements from Democratic lawmakers regarding the Iraq war. Remember that Senator Dick Durbin compared our troops to “Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime—Pol Pot or others.”

But only when a Rush Limbaugh blows his top—or someone like Allen West issues charges like this one—does the New York Times start issuing calls for civility.

Point made. Now, for my second and third points:

Allen West needs to be much more careful. He sloppily overlapped categories and blurred lines of distinction. The reality is that the left side of the political spectrum is very broad. It includes Democrats, liberals, progressives, “social-justice” Christians, socialists, communists, Marxists, Leninists, Stalinists, Maoists, and more. There are distinct differences, even when a liberal Democrat favors something that Marx favored. For instance, point two in Marx’s 10-point plan inThe Communist Manifesto calls for “a heavy progressive or graduated income tax.” Advocates of this include basically the entirety of the Democratic membership of the House of Representatives—but it doesn’t make them Marxists. Consider point three in Marx’s 10-point plan, which calls for “abolition of all rights of inheritance.” Many “liberals” and “progressives” advocate that to some degree (via taxation), but I know of no Congressional Democrat calling for complete abolition of all rights of inheritance.

Likewise, Marx wrote this: “the theory of the communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.” Yes, liberals place all kinds of restrictions on private property, but I know of no Congressional Democrat who would go as far as Lenin and Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot and Castro.

Here’s the reality that often complicates things for conservatives when looking at the political left: Liberals agree with communists on many key sympathies—workers’ rights, spreading and redistributing wealth, a narrow to non-existent income gap, an expansive central government offering a wide array of “free” government services, favoring the public sector over the private sector, class-based rhetoric (often demagoguery) toward the wealthy, progressively high tax rates. The differences are matters of degree, but they are crucial differences.

Sure, Allen West didn’t say that every liberal in Congress is a communist. Yet, he did say that there is a huge portion. Even worse, he initially said that “78 to 81” were actual Communist Partymembers, or about 40 percent of the Democratic membership. Clearly that’s not accurate. If it is, then West should be chiseled into Mt. Rushmore for exposing the greatest threat to Washington since the War of 1812—and we should commence a national march to the Capitol right now, with torches.

I assume that West misspoke, and meant communists (lower case “c”) in ideology, not actual card-carrying Communist Party members.

Allen West has forgotten the painful lesson of Joe McCarthy: If you’re going to call certain people communists, you better be absolutely, 100 percent certain. There’s nothing that liberals detest more than anti-communism. Their preferred villain is Joe McCarthy, not Joe Stalin. They and their mass media will go ballistic, demanding a level of precision from you that they never demand from their own name-callers. Our side must be more cautious; that’s the deck stacked against us.

Allen West, your courage and boldness is refreshing, but please be more careful.



Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and author of the book, “The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.” His other books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism” and “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”

Dr. Paul Kengor


Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism” and “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”

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  • Clement_W

    Allen West is right when he says 78-81 of the Democrats are ‘Communists’ in the current congress. It was much higher in the previous congress.

    As to the ‘Communist Party Members’ I agree that probably none are ‘card-carrying’ members, but, one doesn’t have to be carrying a card or be a member of the Communist Party to be a communist, just as I am a Catholic but do not have a card to say so. The card I have is written on my heart and soul.

  • Pargontwin

    They may not be actual card-carrying members of the Communist Party – that would be too dangerous to their careers, as the voters would never tolerate it – but scratch the surface and you will likely find that a significant portion of their funding comes from the Communist Party.  They are what, in the McCarthy era, would have been classified as “comunist sympathizers,” which, in all truth, is just as bad.

    It was in my high school American History class that I learned how Communists operate:  They infiltrate, and they wait, for many generations if need be.  Well, it has been very nearly a century since the first Communists infiltrated our government (it started in 1917, right after they took over Russia), and we are seeing the fruits of it now.  You don’t have to be a card-carrying member to be a communist.

    Allen West, you rock!  But yes, be careful.  Ol’ Tailgunner Joe was right, but he got a little carried away, and that was his downfall – and ours.

  • chaco

    I get muddled from too many details.  If I focus on the FOUNDATION of something, it helps greatly in knowing how to react. I  like to “Go for the Throat” or foundational premise of “the enemy”. You point this out by quoting Marx about “Abolition of Private Property”.  “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods” indicates that it’s God’s design for us to have private property. I’m thinking of a group which focuses on 3 basic principles;  Tradition – Family – Property. These are “The Throat” of our success as a world leader. The enemy is going for the throat. 

  • Tcd101

    Joe McCarthy was an American hero.  Yes, his bedside manner needed work, but he was telling the truth.  The US military broke the Soviet code during WWII and kept is a secret. Until the latter 1990s, the military intercepted all Soviet messages to its operatives.  The military could have verified  McCarthy.s accusations, however, since verifying his statements would let the Soviets know that the code had been broken.  The military felt it could be of more benefit in the future. This was the Venona Project and it was kept secret from everyone but  a few men in the Pentagon.   Yes, that means the President’s did not know about this project and that includes Eisenhower.

    “The Venona Papers” is one of the books about the project.  I forget the author’s names.

    Our government was filled with Communists and McCarthy wanted them out the government.  Stalin knew of advances in the development of the atomic bomb before FDR knew. 

    There are about that many of our Congressional leaders that regularly attend the Internationals or World Socialism conferences and that plus their statements from time to time, pretty much indicates their political leanings.  They are the furthest Left of the Democrats and or the Liberals.

  • what the heck is an article like this doing on a Catholic Exchange website.  Obviously this site has lost focus of its purpose:  “Catholic Exchange seeks to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ as proclaimed by the Catholic Church to the world.”

  • Tomdundee

     Well, here we have an individual, West, speaking of a group that would prohibit the Good News of Jesus Christ as proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Chruch.  It is in our self interest to be aware and counter this threat to religious freedom.

  • Joe

    And what is the problem with being a communist. Communism in general should not be confused with being pro-Soviet, pro-Russian etc. And it should not be confused with the State capitalist and corrupt and non-democractic system of the Soviet Union, (in which I grew up). But communism, or socialism, generally is a set of healthy ideas, if not taken to the extreme.

  • Clement_W

    Unfortunately, Communism and Socialism do lead to Soviet style totalitarianism. History, including in Israel of the Old Testament, led to totalitarianism. Just see 1 Samuel Ch. 8.

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