Rep. West: Democrats Are Party Of "Slavery," "Segregation," And "Secession"

September 02, 2011 4:52 pm ET — Alan Pyke

Rep. Allen West (R-FL), that self-proclaimed "modern-day Harriet Tubman," is at it again. On last night's episode of The O'Reilly Factor, West alleged that Democrats have sought to oppress black people in this country for centuries.

WEST: When you look at the history of the black community with the Democratic Party, you see slavery, you see segregation, you see the Jim Crow Laws, you see secession and now you see socialism which is really not beneficial to the black community.

And we already talked about those unemployment statistics [in the black community]. You're seeing the second or third generations of welfare ever since we had the great society programs and even Daniel Patrick Moynihan once gave warning to some of the policies that we were going to see implemented in the black community with the destruction of the black family.


This is essentially the same old modern conservative trick of telling far, far less than the whole truth about the history of American political parties and race. West is blaming today's Democrats for the actions and beliefs of southern conservatives who left the party decades ago. As with slavery in the 1860s, when civil rights divided lawmakers in the 1960s the real split was along geographic and ideological lines, not partisan ones. The battle for the soul of the Democratic Party went decisively against the segregationists and racists who West seems to think populate the modern left. West either doesn't know this history himself, or he's hoping that people won't bother to look it up.

All of this distracts, unfortunately, from the important subject of the economic plight of black America today. If West wants to talk about what afflicts African-American families, the high incarceration rate of black males due to Ronald Reagan's mandatory minimum sentencing laws or the fallout from predatory lenders targeting black communities while financial regulators twiddled their thumbs would be better places to start than welfare.

West is less Harriet Tubman than a Pied Piper, luring us away from difficult questions about economic opportunities for black Americans in order to score political points.