SOVIET ARLINGTON — Though I had heard his name mentioned a time or two, I keep myself sufficiently out of touch with the FOX News/Weekly Standard/National Review crowd not to have known much of anything about Lt. Col. Allen West (Ret.). My first inkling that I’d not think highly of him came as I stood outside a ladies’ room at O’Hare, unintentionally eavesdropping on the forty-something man (hardly of a gentle nature) who spoke on the phone nearby. My attention was first piqued when I heard the chap remark that some group of people or another ought to be “taken into a back alley and shot”. Lord knows of whom he spoke! Not particularly interested in listening in, and not knowing what his conversation partner had to say, I have no idea what directed the conversation toward the Congressional candidate, but I suspected bad news when I heard the chap speak praisingly of West’s address(es, plural?) on how to “win” in Afghanistan (Listen at your own risk.):
We have a war against a totalitarian Islamic enemy [including Iraq].
(Judge the idiocy of that comment for yourself. And isn’t that a nice plug for radio-based propaganda?)
I know nothing about Ron Klein, who currently represents Florida’s Twenty-second Congressional District, save what I’ve read online. I’m loath to endorse, even as the “lesser of two evils”, a man who supports legalized abortions; voted in favor of bailing out Wall Street, GM and Chrysler, and TARP; and wanted to re-introduce the Equal Rights Amendment. However, he at least wants to redeploy troops out of Iraq and encourages sanctions to end Iran’s nuclear program (which, although I oppose as interference with Persian sovereignty, at least are an improvement over advocating an air strike). Klein is Jewish, so his views on Israel may well be unpalatable, but I reckon that, overall, his foreign-policy perspectives, and his general vision for the United States’ collective role in the world, positively cannot be as nauseating as West’s.
Upon reaching his campaign Website, one is greeted with this insufferable cliché, wretchedly (and rather inaccurately) regurgitated by Reagan from a damnable Puritanical warbling:
2010 will present a historic opportunity to reclaim our America. We are at a crossroad where only you can help us become that “city on a hill” that is the American ideal and the American promise.
Not only is this a vapid, dangerous, egotistical mantra, but in West’s case, it’s also echoed without even a hint of eloquence. Hardly inspiring to anyone whose brain cells remain free of Happy Meal-conservative maltreatment.
Perturbingly, West has the following to say about our national defense:
If there is one definitive mandate for our federal government it is found in the US Constitution, “provide for the common defense”. It is the primary mission of our government at the National level to protect our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Old English law termed the last piece, property; I consider it part of the American way of life.
Of all of the seemingly potential “definitive mandate[s] for our federal government”, it is this? I mean not to suggest that national defense is unimportant, but that surely, even drawing simply from the Preamble (which actually assigns no powers, notwithstanding the implication of West’s quoting it), we can find more definitive (even if equally literally ambiguous) mandates. Given the relative difficulty of any Eighteenth/early-Nineteenth-century superpower’s invading the inchoate republic (Yes, I recall the War of 1812; silly American expansionists!), surely the Founders envisioned “form[ing] a more perfect Union,” (Sigh!) “establish[ing] Justice, [and] insur[ing] domestic Tranquility,” all listed before “the common defence”.
More alarming is with what West follows this silly paragraph. To wit,
We also face threats from a resurging Russia who is seeking to again expand its reach into our hemisphere. North Korea is extorting the Pacific region through nuclear threat holding hostage in order for its Stalin like regime to survive. China is defeating us economically and using their gains and profits to build a dominating naval force. We cannot forget the socialist dictator to our south, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela who is fomenting unrest throughout South and Central America. And do not discount the drug lords and their militias in Mexico who are exploiting our unsecured borders.
What we have developing is truly a 21st century axis power ready and willing to align in order to defeat America and its allies.”
Our national defense is threatened by Russia, North Korea, China, and Venezuela, it seems. Last I checked, we have very happily expanded the American Imperial reach not simply into Russia’s hemisphere, but into its very backyard, playing an incendiary role in Georgia, encouraging democratic revolutionaries in the Ukraine, and the like. No fan of Chavez I, I laugh, nonetheless, at the suggestion that Venezuela threatens us; that Russia has expanded its reach by way of arms deals with that South American basket case hardly seems to me to be anymore of a threat to world stability than, say, our persistent arming of Israel, a much more troublesome nation in a much more volatile part of the world than a South America where Brazil is governed by a man, whatever his leftist tendencies, who has no interest in playing the Smithers to Chavez’ Burns.
Given that we have yet to see anything of consequence from Kim Jong-il, despite his having spent time on George W. Bush’s naughty list, and China’s (and perhaps Russia’s) interest in keeping the North Koreans at bay, that West even would consider mentioning this Asian backwater is risible, nuclear weapons be damned. That leaves China, which, as West somewhat inaptly notes, is “defeating us economically”. In truth, we are defeating ourselves and permitting China to succeed. Either way, however large a naval force Red China forms, placing itself in militaristic opposition to the States is just unimaginable, an impossibly dull-witted suggestion. Following in a long line of neoconservative nefariousness, West is inventing enemies as adeptly as the federal government invents money.
Speaking about “troop support”, West contends, “VA mortgage funding should include a credit equal to a 10% down payment for a first home purchase.” Now, however intensely I oppose Wilsonian policy in its many mutations, not to mention the standing army itself, I have immeasurable respect for those who enlist, seeking nobly to defend their nation (however little defense they actually provide, and even how little I support the idea of the nation-state). We ought to provide for them and their families, perhaps going above and beyond what our welfare state provides for others. But this is just asinine. Have the last sixty-some years not sufficiently ably instructed us about the perils of government involvement in housing policy, whether it be in the most recent decades or after the Second World War, when the warped American conception of property ownership was extended happily to returning military men and plenty of other who couldn’t afford it? That a Republican would suggest any sort of mortgage helping-hand, to anyone, after the housing crisis would leave me incredulous — if anything from the mainstream Right possibly could.
Finally, West’s pièce de résistance:
About 62 years ago, the world came together and established something that was very long overdue, the State of Israel. When one considers the travails of the Jewish people since the 7th century, it should bring shame upon the face of the world. These persecutions began with them being forced out of the Saudi peninsula and the Levant by muhammad and his successors. The horrors of the inquisition in Spain among other wrongs brought upon the Jews in early Europe followed. When we failed to learn from that lesson, the world would witness the supreme horror of the Holocaust in Europe. Finally, we learned the lesson. We made a commitment and established a Jewish homeland, fully recognized.
Incendiary and misleading! Surely we recall the Assyrians and the Babylonians. The Persians, too. They came long before Islam emerged; so too, the Diaspora began well before the Seventh Century. (My knowledge of later Levantine history, I admit, is lacking, so I cannot wholly confirm the accuracy of what follows, but it comes from an obviously pro-Israel Website that cites the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs as its source for the information.) Again before the rise of Muhammad, Christians (West calls himself one.) — yes, we followers of Christ, who believe Him the Son of God, and not merely a prophet — deprived Jews in the Levant of rights. No mention of that on the apparently Islam-hating West’s page. And then this:
The Arab conquest of the Land came four years after the death of Muhammad (632) and lasted more than four centuries, with caliphs ruling first from Damascus, then from Baghdad and Egypt. At the outset of Islamic rule, Jewish settlement in Jerusalem was resumed, and the Jewish community was granted permission to live under “protection,” the customary status of non-Muslims under Islamic rule, which safeguarded their lives, property and freedom of worship in return for payment of special poll and land taxes.
However, the subsequent introduction of restrictions against non-Muslims (717) affected the Jews’ public conduct as well as their religious observances and legal status. The imposition of heavy taxes on agricultural land compelled many to move from rural areas to towns, where their circumstances hardly improved, while increasing social and economic discrimination forced many Jews to leave the country. By the end of the 11th century, the Jewish community in the Land had diminished considerably and had lost some of its organizational and religious cohesiveness.
Recall, West refers to “persecutions … by [M]uhammad”. (And not that whoever posted this online failed to capitalize the “M”; I suspect that this was not unintentional.) Whatever role, if any, he played in denying Jews their rights on the Arabian Peninsula, he died before Islam had reached what is today Israel and Palestine. Moreover, and more important, for nearly a century Jews in and near Jerusalem lived under “protection”. Excellent historical revisionism, Lt. Col. West. Your lying at least equals the lying of which you accuse Islam en masse.
Finally, regarding West’s views on the Levant, I quote without comment, for his remarks are so evidently asinine as to need no further explication.
I do not support any creation of a Palestinian state, to do so would be to create a terrorist state. There is already a state for the Arabic people residing in the region called Palestine, Jordan. If the Arabs can build an indoor ski slope in Dubai, they can resolve the issue of their Arab brothers and sisters. […]
I do not support any division of Jerusalem. If I recall from history and the Old Testament, David, Son of Israel built Jerusalem and his son Solomon made it great. The muslim claims to Jerusalem are based upon a very contentious story concocted by muhammad, and of course the latter conquering of the city, even by Salahaddin. One flag will fly over Jerusalem, the Israeli flag, never any other, certainly not a UN flag.
That anyone takes this man seriously is a testament to the denigrated state of political thought and discourse in these United States. I reiterate that I have no interest in putting in a good word for Ron Klein, but Lt. Col. Allen West (Ret.) is a positively pernicious person to put in power. I’m not convinced that the Republicans will retake Congress this fall; nor am I sure that I want them to. Nonetheless, given the rapidity wherewith Obama, Reid, Pelosi, et al. have frustrated, disappointed, and infuriated Americans Right and Left, I remain hopeful that we’ll be all right if the Democrats retain at least one seat in the House, one held by a neoliberal Jewish Floridian.