Rep. Allen West (Fla.), the only Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus, sent a sharp missive to the CBC’s chairman Wednesday slamming recent comments about the tea party from the group’s Democratic members and stating that there was “race-baiting” behind the rhetoric from a fellow CBC member.
In a letter to Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), the tea party-affiliated West called recent public remarks by Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.) “unconscionable ... baseless and desperate” and characterized a statement from Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) that the tea party “can go straight to hell” as “appalling.”
It was Carson whom West singled out for the most significant criticism, saying he believed such rhetoric was “racist.”
“Congressman Carson’s desire to generally criticize a large grassroots group as racist is baseless and desperate,” West wrote. “When individuals believe they are defeated in a political disagreement, they normally resort to race-baiting, which in my opinion is in itself racist.”
West added that “in order to cover for the failings of the Obama Administration and the economic policies which have led to unemployment of more than 15 percent in the Black community, the CBC strategy is to demonize the Tea Party.”
Reiterating an earlier comment that he was pondering leaving the group, West threatened to part ways with the CBC. “I believe it is incumbent on you to both condemn these types of hate-filled comments, and to disassociate the Congressional Black Caucus from these types of remarks,” West wrote to Cleaver. “Otherwise, I will have to seriously reconsider my membership within the organization.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.