US Republicans quash resolution over rep's Nazi imagery

Allen West made comments last week saying Joseph Goebbels would be proud of the Democrats' "propaganda machine."

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDEN
December 22, 2011 02:20
3 minute read.
US Republican representative Allen West

US Republican representative Allen West 311 (R). (photo credit: DOUG MURRAY / Reuters)

 
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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.

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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 Party.

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.

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“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 story.”

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 Goebbels.

“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 season.”

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 debate.”

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 truly proud.”

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’ remark.

“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.”

“My support 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.”

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