U.S. Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) speaks at the Mae Volen Senior Center in Boca… (Doug Murray / Reuters )
Rep. Allen West, the only Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus, threatened Wednesday to quit the group over what he called “racially motivated rhetoric” by fellow caucus members aimed at the tea party.
At a recent Congressional Black Caucus event in Miami, Rep. Andre Carson, a Democrat from Indiana, was videotaped telling the audience that, “some of them in Congress right now of this tea party movement would love to see you and me…hanging on a tree.”
West, a Republican representing South Florida – who is known to use inflammatory language of his own – took issue with that comment and with remarks made by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) who recently said at an event in Inglewood, Calif., that “the tea party can go straight to hell.”
In a letter to CBC Chairman Emanuel Cleaver, West scolded his colleagues and called on Cleaver to “both condemn these types of hate-filled comments, and to disassociate the Congressional Black Caucus from these types of remarks.”
“Otherwise, I will have to seriously reconsider my membership within the organization,” West wrote.
West was elected in 2010 and is a member of both the CBC and the House Tea Party Caucus.
At the Miami event, Carson suggested that the tea party aims to return to the days of segregation.
“This is the effort that we’re seeing of Jim Crow,” he said. “Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second-class citizens.”
West didn’t just object to Carson’s remarks – he likened them to racism.
“Congressman Carson’s desire to generally criticize a large grass-roots group as racist is baseless and desperate,” he 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.”
This isn’t the first time that West has met insult with insult in a spat across the aisle.
Last month, he called fellow South Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat, “the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member of the U.S. House of Representatives,” after Wasserman Schultz chastised West on the House floor for supporting a bill that would make cuts to Medicare.
“If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up. Focus on your own congressional district!" West wrote in an email to the congresswoman and House leaders.
Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots followed West’s letter on Wednesday with a statement of their own, calling on Carson to “immediately resign.”
“Once again…the left resorts to the most hideous slurs to attempt to marginalize the mainstream of American political thought,” Meckler and Martin wrote. “This type of disgusting, hateful rhetoric has no place in our political discourse.”