Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Congressman Allen West is on something of a tear. First, there's this:

Florida GOP Congressman Allen West this afternoon dispatched a scathing personal email to Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, calling her "vile, unprofessional ,and despicable," "a coward," "characterless," and "not a Lady," and demanding that she "shut the heck up."

Wasserman Schultz, in whose neighboring South Florida district West lives, provoked his tirade with remarks after he left the House floor today, in which she responded -- without naming him -- to the Tea Party freshman's support for "Cut, Cap, and Balance" legislation to raise the debt ceiling....

There's also an Allen West blog post at a site called Red County that ends with this line:

I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool.


Now, I often hear that Barack Obama can't get angry, can't go on the offensive, can't lash out at his critics, and is attacked by his opponents in ways that seem unprecedented, not because he's a Democrat at a time when Republicans are at an extreme of intransigence and radicalism, but because he's black. Anger on his part, in particular, is something that just won't fly in the heartland -- it simply won't be accepted from an African-American.

And yet -- and I realize I say this all the time, so apologies for repeating myself -- Allen West is African-American, and conservative white heartlanders seem to love him. There are three "Allen West for President" pages out there already. Freepers and Fox Nation fans trade links to his diatribes. Glenn Beck is a huge fan. Pam Geller is a huge fan.

And he was like this before he got elected to Congress. He won his seat in the 2010 teabag wave not in spite of being an "angry black man," but because he was angry.

So why is this acceptable to white heartlanders on the right, who also respond to right-wing media fearmonger about ACORN and violent "urban" "flash mobs" and the New Black Panther Party?

Well, I've always said that right-wingers like "their" non-whites (e.g., Clarence Thomas) and hate "ours." Beyond that, I suppose African-American anger is acceptable to right-wing racists in the way fierceness on the field by African-American football players has always been acceptable to racists who see African-Americans as violent criminals in the real world, and cower in fear as a result.

Maybe it helps that, like sports violence, Allen West's rhetorical anger is stylized -- in that e-mail about Debbie Wasserman Schultz, he wrote,

...understand that I shall defend myself forthright against your heinous characterless behavior.

How was it that David Brooks described the bloviations of right-wing radio talkers yesterday? As "pseudo Crispin's Day speeches to battalions of the like-minded"? There's something wannabe-Shakespearean about that Allen West phrase, isn't there? A lot of his rhetoric is like that. ("Now, some 30 years later we have a redux of an effete, ineffective President whose nuanced intellectual elite responses offer no support to those desiring Liberty," he said in 2009.) Maybe keeping it stylized and pseudo-highfalutin (Herman Cain does this, too) makes his rage seem "safe."

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