Arguably the most inflammatory member in Congress, GOP Rep. Allen West (FL) outdid himself yesterday by comparing the Democratic Party to the Nazi party. Bristling at a new poll revealing that Americans blame Republicans for Congress’s inability to function, West invoked this slur:
“If Joseph Goebbels was around, he’d be very proud of the Democrat Party, because they have an incredible propaganda machine,” West told reporters during House votes Thursday afternoon. “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.” [...]
“But let’s be very honest,” he added. “You have the president, who has an incredible megaphone and a platform, and he has people all across this country believing that the only people on Capitol Hill are House Republicans. He’s not talking anything about his controlled Senate. So, it’s a great propaganda machine. And I have to give him kudos for being able to leverage that.”
Goebbels was Adolf Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda from 1933 to 1945 and was known for openly exploiting “the lowest instincts of the German people” like racism, xenophobia, and economic insecurity to engender a zealous anti-Semitism.
The National Jewish Democratic Council asked West to “apologize sincerely and immediately. As we have said repeatedly, invoking the Holocaust to make a political point is never acceptable and should be condemned by all for the sake of the memory of those who were lost.” Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) also blasted West in a personal letter, demanding that he “help raise the level of congressional discourse in a vigorous debate.”
West, as if realizing the extremity of his words, then peremptorily blamed reporters for “taking my words and twisting it around.” “What I’m talking about is a person that was the minister of propaganda. And I’m talking about propaganda,” he said. “Once again, you guys will take whatever I say and you will spin it to try to demonize me or demagogue me.” After all, he’s the victim here.
Reps. Steve Israel (D-NY) and Gary Ackerman (D-NY) were also outraged by West’s comment. “Shame on him,” tweeted Israel. “Rep. West needs to apologize now for insulting the memories of the millions who lost their lives during the Holocaust.” Ackerman said, “This is exactly the type of rhetoric that turns people off to Washington…I call on Republicans and Democrats alike to join me in demanding an apology.”
The Anti-Defamation League responded with “outrage and dismay” in a letter to West, noting that this was not the first time he used a Nazi analogy. “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 ADL wrote.
Rep. West has doubled down on his Nazi rhetoric when firing back at Rep. Conyers in a letter. “Mr. Conyers, The Democrat Party does indeed have a vicious propaganda machine. it espouses lies and deceit and the Master of deceptive information would truly be proud,” West said. “I have been personally attacked and denigrated on countless occasions. I do not appreciate your letter…Truth is Powerful Sir! Steadfast & Loyal, Allen.”