Thursday, April 12, 2012
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Keith Ellison, a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which U.S. Rep. Allen West categorized as “communist” on Tuesday, released a statement Wednesday calling the remarks from the Florida Republican a callback to the days of Joe McCarthy.
At an event in his district Tuesday evening, a constituent asked West, “What percentage of the American Legislature do you think are card-carrying Marxists?” He responded that he believed “78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party … are members of the Communist Party.”
A spokesman later told Politico that West was referring to the members of the Progressive Caucus, a group of Democrats and left-leaning independents that back policies predominantly more liberal than those advanced by Republicans and even many Democrats.
Ellison and Progressive Caucus co-chair Raul Grijalva of Arizona released a statement calling the remarks “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.”
McCarthy, of course, was the Republican U.S. Senator who investigated the reach of communism in the United States during the Cold War.
Here’s the statement:
“Allen West is denigrating the millions of Americans who voted to elect Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) 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.
“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 CPC is proud to stand up for economic equality and civil and human rights for all Americans. Congress is having, and will continue to have, an ongoing debate about job creation, home foreclosures and the issues that concern working families. But we will not engage in base and childish conversations that lower the high level of discourse Americans rightly expect from their representatives.”