The worst of right-wing commentator and new Texas GOP Chairman Allen West
*This piece was updated on July 20 after West’s election.
Right-wing pundit Allen West was elected the chairman of the Texas Republican Party. West has a long history of pushing smears, lies, and toxic rhetoric, especially against Muslims.
West served in the U.S. Army but was “stripped of his command” in 2003 after he pleaded “guilty to assaulting an Iraqi detainee during interrogation,” according to The Boston Globe. Gen. James Mattis, President Donald Trump’s former secretary of defense, reportedly criticized West as a “commander who has lost his moral balance or has watched too many Hollywood movies.” West became a one-term congressman in 2011 and subsequently joined the media as a political commentator. He has also served on the board of the National Rifle Association, which is now plagued by infighting and allegations of financial misdeeds.
West has repeatedly used toxic rhetoric about a variety of topics. He called President Barack Obama an “Islamist” and “disgusting racist"; said the “Democrat Party is an anti-Semitic party”; and falsely accused dozens of congressional Democrats of being “members of the Communist Party.” He claimed that Islam “is not a religion” and “we need to have individuals stand up and say that,” and his Facebook page posted (and later removed) an image that claimed Trump had chosen Mattis as his defense secretary to “exterminate Muslims.” He also questioned the “loyalties” of Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a Purple Heart recipient, and said feminists are “neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness.”
On June 17, West wrote on his website that “folks have called upon me to consider three opportunities here in this next election cycle: run for US Senate, run for US Congressional District 32 (where I have lived since moving to the Dallas area), or run for Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas” and that on July 3, he’ll announce “the opportunity that I will endeavor to pursue.”
Here is a summary of West’s toxic rhetoric (much of the following information was published by Media Matters in December 2016):
West’s toxic history as a military commander and commentator
West was “stripped of his command after pleading guilty to assaulting an Iraqi detainee.” The Boston Globe noted in 2003 that West was “stripped of his command after pleading guilty to assaulting an Iraqi detainee during interrogation. ... The military said that during an interrogation of an Iraqi police officer Aug. 20 near the village of Taji, north of Baghdad, West fired his pistol near the head of the prisoner, threatened to kill him, and allowed his troops to beat the man.” [Boston Globe, 12/14/03; Media Matters, 2/8/10]
Mattis reportedly called West a “commander who has lost his moral balance or has watched too many Hollywood movies.” Roll Call noted that Mattis reportedly criticized West for his actions as a commander:
West drew Mattis’ scrutiny after he was reprimanded for firing a weapon near the head of prisoner he was interrogating while he was an artillery battalion commander in Iraq in 2003.
In putting together documents to prepare his Marines for deployment to Iraq, Mattis pointed to the case of West as a “commander who has lost his moral balance or has watched too many Hollywood movies,” defense writer Thomas Ricks wrote in his book “Fiasco.” [Roll Call, 12/6/16]
West left conservative website after he reportedly “had an anti-Semitic exchange with a staffer, calling her a 'Jewish American princess.'” West left the conservative website PJ Media after, according to BuzzFeed, West had “an altercation with a female staffer in which he allegedly called her a 'Jewish American princess.' ... Asked specifically whether he referred to the employee as a 'Jewish American princess,' West said simply, 'There was an exchange, that's all.'” [BuzzFeed, 9/26/13]
West heavily plagiarized a viral internet story. In a piece attacking the Obama administration for purportedly ignoring the deaths of law enforcement officers, West plagiarized from a viral internet story. He lifted at least six paragraphs (including typos) from the story, which was previously posted on sites like Yahoo! Answers, Free Republic, Facebook, and the comments section of various websites. [Media Matters, 12/12/14]
West questioned the “loyalties” of decorated veteran and Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth. During a 2014 appearance on a conservative radio show, West said of decorated veteran Tammy Duckworth and her position on the Obama administration's response to the 2012 Benghazi attack: “I just don't know where her loyalties lie. You know, for her to have been a veteran, a wounded warrior for the United States Army, she should know that this is not the right thing. And hopefully, you know, she will remember the oath of office that she took as an Army officer and not the allegiance I guess she believes she has to the liberal progressives of the Democrat Party." [Media Matters, 5/22/14]
West: Islam “is not a religion” and “we need to have individuals stand up and say that." West claimed, “Islam is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology, it is not a religion. It has not been a religion since 622 AD, and we need to have individuals stand up and say that.” [Media Matters, 5/17/13]
West: “The Black community was stronger” and had “better education opportunities” during segregation. [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 9/28/16]
West’s Facebook page posted an image praising Mattis for alleged plan to “exterminate Muslims.” West’s Facebook page posted an image claiming that Trump picked Mattis for defense secretary in order to “exterminate Muslims.” The editor-in-chief of his website later claimed that the image was posted “without Allen West’s knowledge or consent.” [BuzzFeed, 12/11/16]
West called Obama and Holder “vile and disgusting racists.” West wrote of Obama and then-Attorney General Eric Holder: “How long will it be before 'you people' realize you have elevated someone to the office of president who abjectly despises you -- not to mention his henchman Holder. Combined they are the most vile and disgusting racists.” [AllenBWest.com, 1/14/14, via Media Matters]
West: “Barack Hussein Obama is an Islamist.” West wrote on his website that Obama “is purposefully enabling the Islamist cause” and concluded: “Sorry, but I can only explain this one way: Barack Hussein Obama is an Islamist in his foreign policy perspectives and supports their cause. You can go back and listen to his 2009 speech in Cairo, where Muslim Brotherhood associates were seated front and center.” West repeated his claim in the media, telling Boston Herald Radio that “deep down inside, you know, Barack Hussein Obama has an Islamist sympathy. ... I don't understand where this president's loyalties lie, and I have to ask the question, whose side is he on?” [AllenBWest.com, 8/13/14, via Media Matters; Boston Herald Radio, Trending Now, 8/19/14]
West's response to whether Obama is a Muslim: “The president has an Eastern orientation, I'll put it that way.” At a July 2014 event hosted by Republicans, West didn't dispute an audience member who falsely claimed that “Obama is a Muslim.” Instead, West responded that he's “not going to get into that” but said that the president “has an Eastern orientation, I'll put it that way.” He later added: “Don't care whether or not he's a Muslim. I care about his orientation. And his association.” [Media Matters, 7/15/14]
West said Holder is a “bigger threat” than Al Qaeda. In a fundraising email, West claimed that Holder was a “bigger threat to our Republic” than terrorist Ayman al-Zawahiri, a former deputy of Osama bin Laden. [Media Matters, 6/7/13]
West: The “Democrat Party is an anti-Semitic party.” During an interview on Boston Herald Radio, West claimed Obama was “withholding” aid to Israel, and that the “Democrat Party is an anti-Semitic party.” [Boston Herald Radio, Trending Now, 8/19/14]
West compared Democrats to Nazis and called media “complicit.” West told reporters in December 2011: “If Joseph Goebbels was around, he'd be very proud of the Democrat Party, because they have an incredible propaganda machine. ... Let's be honest, you know, some of the people in the media are complicit with this and enabling them to get that type of message out.” [Media Matters, 5/17/13]
West falsely accused dozens of congressional Democrats of being communists. West accused roughly 80 Democratic House members of being “members of the Communist Party. ... It's called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.” [Media Matters, 5/17/13]
West attacked Gold Star father Khizr Khan for “a damn politicized stunt” when Khan spoke at the Democratic National Convention. [Media Matters, 8/1/16]
West claimed he was the victim of “Sharia Law” at Walmart because an employee under 21 couldn’t sell him alcohol. West wrote a post originally headlined “Sharia law comes to Walmart?” In the story, he recounted a weekend trip to Walmart, where a “Muslim employee” at the cash register was unable to sell him alcohol. His site later posted an update noting that in reality, “employees under 21 years old are prohibited from selling cigarettes and alcohol.” [Media Matters, 5/11/15]
West told military personnel to disobey their commander-in-chief. In 2014, the Defense Department announced it would expand an existing program, Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI), to allow recruiters “to target foreign nationals with high-demand skills, mostly rare foreign language expertise or specialized health care training.” West responded by telling members of the armed forces to disobey their orders. He wrote: “Barack Hussein Obama took out his pen and ordered our Military to enlist illegal aliens. In other words, this charlatan has allowed those who have disrespected our Constitution and are not citizens to take an oath to support and defend the very document, our rule of law, of which they are in violation.” He added: “This is an illegal order and should not be followed by our Military.” [Media Matters, 9/26/14]
West invoked slavery to attack Democrats. West has claimed that Democrats are keeping black voters on a “plantation.” He also said that “the Democratic appetite for ever-increasing redistributionary handouts is in fact the most insidious form of slavery remaining in the world today” and Obama would “rather you be his slave.” [Media Matters, 5/17/13]
West agreed with radio host that “Khmer Rouge feminists” are attempting a “coup” against the military. During an appearance on Michael Savage's radio program, West agreed with Savage's assertion that “Khmer Rouge feminists” are attempting a “coup” against the military by proposing to change the military chain of command in sexual assault cases. West also criticized liberals for wanting to “put women into combat arms units ... so that they can meet some socially engineering goal or egalitarian goal.” [Media Matters, 6/6/13]
West: Feminists are “neutering American men.” West criticized liberal women for “neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness” and said, “We are not going to have our men become subservient.” He was also denounced for comments about Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) in which he wrote to her, “You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!” [Media Matters, 5/17/13]
West: Focus on kidnapped Nigerian girls is “fishy” and is meant to distract from Benghazi. West wrote a post headlined “Focus on Boko Haram right now seems fishy to me,” which accused the Obama administration of disingenuously caring about the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls by the Boko Haram terrorist organization, claiming the administration was attempting to distract the public from “all the scandals facing the Obama administration, especially Benghazi and the Select Committee.” [Media Matters, 5/12/14]
West: Obama “purposefully creating drama” like Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash. West wrote on his website:
Sadly, hundreds of Ukrainians and 298 souls on MH17 have paid the price for the weakness and abject cowardice of Obama's “flexibility.”
And here in America we quibble over a lawsuit against this charlatan.
The blood on Vladimir Putin's hands was poured by Barack Obama who is indirectly responsible, accountable and no different than Neville Chamberlain's weakness in the face of the 20th Century maniacal dictator Adolf Hitler.
So much for no drama Obama. He is purposefully creating drama globally. [AllenBWest.com, 7/18/14, via Media Matters]
West has pushed anti-immigrant rhetoric. West has warned that illegal immigration is like an “invasion into your country.” He's also accused Democratic officials of being “almost treasonous” by inviting undocumented immigrants to attend a hearing on the DREAM Act. [Media Matters, 5/17/13]
West hyped a hoax story of an ISIS-inspired stabbing of teacher at a French preschool. [Media Matters, 12/14/15]
West said that a group of Black women graduating from West Point who raised their fists in a photo is akin to “white male cadets ... taking a picture with a Confederate flag.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/11/16]
West claimed that God has climate change “under control.” In response to people saying that human activity is causing climate change, West said in October 2018: “There’s a creator that's got this under control. But what they're doing is they’re delegitimizing, they're undermining the sovereignty of the creator.” [Media Matters, 12/29/18]