US Republican representative Allen West 311 (R).
(photo credit: DOUG MURRAY / Reuters)
WASHINGTON – Republicans in the US Congress killed a Democrat-sponsored motion
Tuesday to condemn Rep. Allen West (R-Florida) for using Nazi imagery to
criticize Democratic public-relations strategies.
In a vote that closely
paralleled party lines, House Republicans quashed 231-188 the resolution
sponsored by Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Maryland) that would have reprimanded
the outspoken freshman congressman, who represents a South Florida district with
a large Jewish population.
The attempted censure came in response to
comments made by West last week, after he was asked about Congress’s low poll
numbers, a phenomenon that seems to have dinged GOP representatives worse than
their Democrat colleagues.
According to the Politico website, West
responded that “if Joseph Goebbels was around, he’d be very proud of the
Democrat Party because they have an incredible propaganda machine,” West told
reporters in the Capitol. “I think that you have – and let’s be honest, you know
– some of the people in the media are complicit in this, in enabling them to get
that type of message out.”
West, whose district includes areas such as
Boca Raton, said that he was not trying to link Democrats to the Nazi
The former history teacher has been criticized in the past – and
was even the focus of a New York Times article for his frequent analogies
between Democratic opponents and Nazis.
“Don’t start taking my words and
twisting it around. I’m talking about propaganda,” West said. “And I think
that’s a very important thing. When you tell me that everyone thinks that the
only people on Capitol Hill are House Republicans, it’s because that’s what’s
being portrayed, is that there’s nobody else up here.
“Once again, you
guys will take whatever I say and you will spin it to try to demonize me or
demagogue me,” West added. “What I’m talking about is a person that was the
minister of propaganda. And I’m talking about propaganda.
So please. I’ll
be prepared to wake up tomorrow and you guys make up some crazy
West’s denial of any inappropriate choices in his invocation of
Goebbels did not convince Jewish leaders and an early-season avalanche of angry
responses followed his remarks.
The Anti-Defamation League wrote a letter
to the freshman representative, noting that this was not the first time that
West had used Holocaust analogies to make a political point and calling upon him
to apologize for his comments.
Abraham H. Foxman, the organizations
national director said that “we were deeply dismayed by Rep. West’s remark
comparing the Democratic Party’s attempts to articulate views to the American
people through the media to the efforts of the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph
“Such outrageous Holocaust analogies have no place in our
political dialogue. They are offensive, they trivialize real historical events,
and they diminish the memory of the six million Jews and millions of others who
perished in the Holocaust.”
The American Jewish Committee also slammed
the comments, with Executive Director David Harris complaining that “to make a
linkage between any mainstream political party in the United States and the
heinous atrocities committed by the Third Reich should be simply beyond the
pale, whatever political differences may arise in a heated electoral
Among West’s critics in the House of Representatives was Rep.
John Conyers (D-Michigan), who wrote to West, calling upon the congressman to
“help raise the level of congressional discourse in a vigorous
According to a copy of the failed censure resolution, West
responded that “The Democrat Party does indeed have a vicious propaganda machine
– it espouses lies and deceit and the Master of deceptive information would be
The National Jewish Democratic Council slammed the Tuesday
afternoon vote, with President and CEO David A.
Harris saying that “this
afternoon’s vote lays bare where House Republicans stand on inappropriate
Holocaust rhetoric, such as Allen West’s ‘Goebbels’
“Unfortunately, the resolution disapproving of West’s deeply
disturbing comparison failed on a party-line vote, with Republicans blocking any
effort to formally criticize West’s objectionable behavior.”
for the Jewish community and my support for the security of the State of Israel
is well known and respected, including in Israel, and the Democratic Party wants
to take any opportunity that it can to attack me,” responded West. “In the mean
time, the American people are very concerned with what is happening with the
payroll tax, and that is my focus. I don’t deal with side show antics.”