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Editor’s note: A longer version of this article first appeared at American Spectator.


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Congressman Allen West (R-Fla.) is being heavily criticized for comments alleging that certain Democratic members of Congress are communists, and he is not backing down. West dared to quantify his accusation, claiming there are “78 to 81” Congressional Democrats who are communists.

I want to say three things relating to West’s remarks: First, some criticism of West’s critics. Second, a defense of West’s critics. And, finally, some criticism of West, which I offer constructively. I like Allen West and want him to succeed.

First, on West’s critics:

Their concern about West’s exaggeration and name-calling has little credibility coming from an ideology (liberalism) and political party (Democrats) who constantly engage in exaggeration and name-calling. I could point out a litany of examples. It’s as easy as the latest liberal/Democrat gambit accusing Republicans of a “war on women” merely because they believe the federal government shouldn’t force taxpayers to fund contraception and Planned Parenthood. For that crime, West’s colleague Maxine Waters called Republicans “demons.” Nancy Pelosi said they want women to “die on the floor.” Dianne Feinstein insisted they want “to sock it to women.” Harry Reid claimed Republicans have placed a “bull’s eye on women.” Barbara Boxer described it as a “vendetta” against women. Congresswoman Barbara Lee summed it up as a GOP “war on women.”

I could go on and on. Google the words “George W. Bush” and “Hitler” or “Nazi.” Or recall the obscene statements from Democratic lawmakers regarding the Iraq war. Remember that Senator Dick Durbin compared our troops to “Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime—Pol Pot or others.”

But only when a Rush Limbaugh blows his top—or someone like Allen West issues charges like this one—does the New York Times start issuing calls for civility.

Point made. Now, for my second and third points:

Allen West needs to be much more careful. He sloppily overlapped categories and blurred lines of distinction. The reality is that the left side of the political spectrum is very broad. It includes Democrats, liberals, progressives, “social-justice” Christians, socialists, communists, Marxists, Leninists, Stalinists, Maoists, and more. There are distinct differences, even when a liberal Democrat favors something that Marx favored. For instance, point two in Marx’s 10-point plan inThe Communist Manifesto calls for “a heavy progressive or graduated income tax.” Advocates of this include basically the entirety of the Democratic membership of the House of Representatives—but it doesn’t make them Marxists. Consider point three in Marx’s 10-point plan, which calls for “abolition of all rights of inheritance.” Many “liberals” and “progressives” advocate that to some degree (via taxation), but I know of no Congressional Democrat calling for complete abolition of all rights of inheritance.


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Likewise, Marx wrote this: “the theory of the communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.” Yes, liberals place all kinds of restrictions on private property, but I know of no Congressional Democrat who would go as far as Lenin and Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot and Castro.

Here’s the reality that often complicates things for conservatives when looking at the political left: Liberals agree with communists on many key sympathies—workers’ rights, spreading and redistributing wealth, a narrow to non-existent income gap, an expansive central government offering a wide array of “free” government services, favoring the public sector over the private sector, class-based rhetoric (often demagoguery) toward the wealthy, progressively high tax rates. The differences are matters of degree, but they are crucial differences.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.



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