Congressman says 80 fellow House members are communists


Tea party Congressman Allen West of Florida asserted at a town hall meeting that about 80 of his colleagues are Communists, a statement which has drawn quick condemnation from congressional progressives and from the Communist Party USA itself.

"I believe there's about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party," West said at meeting in Jensen Beach, Fla.  His bizarre statement was a response to a bizarre question from a tea partyer who asked, "What percentage of the American legislature do you think are card carrying Marxists?"

West spokesperson Angela Marvin told the press later that "the Congressman was referring to the 76 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus" and that "the Communist Party has publicly referred to the Progressive Caucus as its allies."

"The Progressive Caucus speaks for itself," Marvin said. "These individuals certainly aren't proponents of free markets or individual economic freedom."

Another West spokesperson said something completely different. Blaming the media, the staffer said, "One stupid reporter with a local publication misquoted the entire thing, and they all jumped on one press account without verifying."

And then came the conspiracy that all tea partyers love to talk about, tying it to President Obama.

"It's all typical West Wing marching orders for their friends in the press," the campaign staffer told the far-right publication Daily Caller.

Libero Della Piana, a vice chair of the Communist Party USA, called West's statements "ridiculous" and a "cheap shot."

"There are no members of Congress in the Communist Party. We support public parks and I assume Congressman West does too, that doesn't mean he's a Communist."

Co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Raul Grijalva of Arizona and Keith Ellison of Minnesota blasted what they called "the outrageous Allen West claims."

"Allen West is denigrating millions of Americans who voted to elect Congressional Progressive Caucus members, and he is ignoring the oath they took to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution - just like he did. Calling fellow members of Congress 'communists' is reminiscent of the days when Joe McCarthy divided Americans with name-calling and modern-day witch hunts that don't advance policies to benefit people's lives," they said.

"We hope the people of Florida's 22nd Congressional District will note that he repeatedly polarizes the American people instead of focusing on their interests. When people like Rep. West have no ideals or principles, they rely on personal attacks.

"The Congressional Progressive Caucus is proud," they said, "to stand up for economic equality and human rights for all Americans. Congress is having, and will continue to have, an ongoing debate about job creation, home foreclosures and issues that concern working families. But we will not engage in base and childish conversations that lower the high level of discourse Americans rightly respect from their representatives."

Speaking for the CPUSA, Della Piana said, West was employing the "age-old tactic" of tapping into anti-communism in order to smear congressional Democrats and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, specifically.

"It harkens back to Joe McCarthy and the Red Scare," he said.

"But those tactics are less and less effective. Millions of Americans are fed up anyway with the so-called free market, " Della Piana said, "because it benefits the 1 % at the expense of the 99%. Socialism and communism are not so scary today to working people faced with foreclosures, layoffs and poverty. The Rasmussen polls in recent years show a significant number of people prefer socialism to capitalism."

What about West's charge that there are "card carrying" communists in Congress?

"There are obviously no 'card carrying' communists in Congress and I suspect Allen West knows this," said Della Piana.

"He was speaking to his base and echoing a message from the far-right blogosphere. That message is that anyone who is not a conservative is on a slippery slope that ends up in communism.

"He was implying Congressional Democrats have a hidden agenda. He fed the very dangerous trend in the Republican Party, which replaces fact with a story that anything but extreme conservatism is unethical and unpatriotic."  

Della Piana told Politico, "We are supposed to live in a political democracy. I didn't know that being a Communist in Congress was off-limits or out of bounds. There aren't any now, and if there were in the future does that mean that the voters don't have a say? Can't choose a Communist to be in Congress?"

Photo: Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., listens as Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah speaks, and gestures, during a tea party town hall meeting at the National Press Club in Washington, Feb. 8, 2011. Cliff Owen/AP

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  • This "dangerous trend in the Republican Party" comes largely from Glenn Beck, a close ally of Allen West, who makes the association of progressives and everyone else on the left, including Communists. The whole Tea Party is largely misinformed by this sleazy, reactionary propagandist.

    Posted by Victor Tiffany, 04/16/2012 4:36pm (4 years ago)

  • I only wish it were true :)


    Posted by Gabe Falsetta, 04/15/2012 11:37pm (4 years ago)

  • Communists like W. E. B. Du Bois, Elizabeth Flynn and Pablo Neruda will never be forgiven by those who represent billionaires and the worshipers of money, like our anti-communist, Mr. West who would isolate all positive humanity with this racist, political and anti-human poison, if they could.
    Commenting on the Communist Du Bois, the non-communist M L K said some 40 days before his assassination, "We cannot talk of Dr. Du Bois without recognizing that he was a radical all of his life. Some people would like to ignore the fact that he was a Communist in his later years. It is worth noting that Abraham Lincoln warmly welcomed the support of Karl Marx during the Civil War and corresponded with him freely. In contemporary life, the English speaking world has no difficulty with the fact that Sean O'Casey was a literary giant of the twentieth century and a Communist, or that Pablo Neruda is generally considered the greatest living poet through he also served in the Chilean Senate as a Communist. It is time to cease muting the fact that Dr. Du Bois was a genius and chose to be a Communist. Our irrational obsessive ant-communism has led us into too many quagmires to be retained as if it were a mode of scientific thinking."
    Mr. West would return us to this irrational obsession, to a third and unspeakable "red scare" debilitating humanity once more, as Rev. Dr. King suggests, this is an affront to reason and civilization, and should be denounced as such.
    Further, with Michael Bayer's helpful comment, Communists have served as very capable and constructive publicly elected officials, on all levels-and if they have an iota of the substance of a Joseph Weydemeyer, people close to communists, like Vito Marcantonio, or a Benjamin Jefferson Davis, we need many more elected.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 04/13/2012 1:51pm (4 years ago)

  • I wish there were 78 "card carrying', or even not "card carrying" communists in the House of Representatives. Or even one or two.

    Posted by Emile Schepers, 04/13/2012 1:41pm (4 years ago)

  • I think it is unbelievable that a Republican would even ATTEMPT to tap into the Draconian, McCarthyite perspective of calling members of Congress "Communists" while at the same time pretending as if it is a problem at all that a Communist could, or would be elected to a state, or Federal, legislature. It's tactics like these which will spell the death of old-school Conservatism in the Republican Party. The American People will not put up with another Red Scare, and they damn sure won't put up with another situation which fostered the murder of two American Citizens: The Rosenbergs.

    Posted by Joshua Morris, 04/13/2012 12:34pm (4 years ago)

  • We who have been activists for decades are reminded of the wise warning from our assassinated champion of the poorest of the working class, also the clarion voice for peace of our generation-M L K-"..Dr. Du Bois was a tireless explorer and a gifted discoverer of social truths. His singular greatness lay in his quest for truth about his own people. There were very few scholars who concerned themselves with the honest study of the black man and he sought to fill this immense void. The degree to which he succeeded disclosed the great dimensions of the man."
    Rulers, of money-and in their minds, because of this- they are naturally the rulers of human beings, so those of the ilk of the tea-party and congressman West believe, as the serve billionaires in social policy, opposing truth and its seekers like Du Bois. Tea-party politicians like Mr. West and the billions and billions in money they represent at the expense of Americans will never forgive Du Bois and his supporter like M L K for writing,"That said, the response from our vice chair, Libero Della Piana is very well taken.
    Many outstanding members of Congress, shown by their support of the activities and even spiritual foundations of the deeds and thought of Reverend Martin Luther King Junior, through legislating his national holiday, and the placement of his monument on our sacred national mall, indeed his international prestige, and that of his mentor, W. E. B. Du Bois- the highest and noblest of ideas and traditions of our Constitution and Bill of Rights-reinforcing the dignity-of all humankind borne out by all human experience, demonstrating true allegiance to our country, its several, multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and multinational citizenry-its hard learned commitment to complete gender equality.
    These congress persons have been G L B T, Chinese-American, Japanese American, German-American, Irish-American, Italian- American, Jewish, African American, African-Caribbean, African Haitian, Finish-American, Hawaiian, naturalized, native born-the whole thing.
    It is this supremely valuable gamut of ideas that our anti-communist Mr. West, in his truly un-American statements, with all their unsavory connotations, damages and threatens- and this is a serious threat to our democracy and way of life, demonstrated by the life and works of patriots like M L K and Du Bois.
    In truth, hundreds of thousands of our elected representatives, have worked with communists, on every level and have views very similar to those expressed by Dr. King, as he addressed this body of distinguished American citizens at Freedomways magazine on the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Communist Party member, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois.
    In the post 1945 period, (around the time of his fifth Pan-African Congress) according to author Gerald C. Hynes,"W. E. B. Du bois entered into his last phase as a protest propagandist, committed beyond a single social group to a world conception of proletarian liberation.
    Since the fights to save Angelo Herndon and Angel Davis from a legal lynchings, on, to the fight to commemorate the alleged hunt and vigilante murder of Trayvon Martin with a declaration of legal, human and civil rights,(highlighting the right to vote) for especially people of color, the communists have been champions of human rights and unity of all people.
    This is why Mr. West, the tea-party, the Republican Party establishment, the KKK, The Birchers, the Nazis, "white citizen councils", hate groups and the run of the muck promote racism and its twin-anti-communism- this is why Mr. West's statement puts the United States of America and the world in peril.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 04/13/2012 11:47am (4 years ago)

  • The article correctly points out that Wesdt's anti-Communism is designed to stigmatiza every progresive who "stand(s) up for economic equality and human rights for all Americans...and...debat(ing) about job creation, home foreclosures and issues that concern working families.

    Still, it would have been better if the sentiments expressed in the last paragraph were more central to the article. Until then, all of the statements quoted were based on the assumption that being a Communist is somehow a disqualification for election to Congress.

    Posted by Michael Bayer, 04/12/2012 7:55pm (4 years ago)

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