Allen West: Not Lazy, Just Crazy -- Like a Fox
RightWatch: Ultraconservative blacks make careers by appealing to GOP extremists.
With all due respect to my colleague David Swerdlick -- whose thoughtful, precise political commentaries are some of the best things you will read on The Root -- he made a serious mistake in his recent piece about Allen West, the ultraconservative black Republican congressman from Florida.
Contrary to what Swerdlick wrote, the problem with West is not that he's being "just plain lazy" when he commits outrageous acts like charging that "there are about 78 or 81 members of the Democrat Party that are members of the Communist Party." It's that he, and his fellow black right-wingers, are just plain crazy.
Stark, raving, certifiably crazy. Ape-dung, baying-at-the-moon, in-need-of-a-straitjacket ker-a-a-a-z-z-z-y. Crazy enough to play into the insanity of the predominantly white, mostly poorly educated, deeply prejudiced and highly paranoid constituencies they appeal to. Crazy, that is, like a fox.
Mind you, I am not trying to make a psychiatric diagnosis of what ails West and his ilk (though some of them clearly belong in the booby hatch). I'm not a shrink, and I don't know West from Adam. For all I know, he actually believes the outlandish ideas he espouses.
But I don't have to get up close and personal with West to know that quite a few ambitious black politicians have figured out that one of the best ways to get ahead is to separate themselves from the black mainstream and present themselves as right-wing extremists. They don't waste time trying to convince other blacks to go along with their ideas because they know that most of us are not crazy enough to support them.
Instead, they exploit the right wing's need to inoculate itself from charges of racism by proving that there is at least one black person who agrees with its wacko positions. Any reasonably presentable Negro who's willing to make that deal can go to the head of the pack.
You get there by doubling down on the George W. Bush-era economic and tax policies that got us into the current economic mess. You do it by regurgitating right-wing assaults on liberal policies that most blacks support. In short, by being more right wing than the right-wingers. It's crazy, but it works.