WASHINGTON, DC - Members of Congress, non-partisan Jewish organizations and others came forward today to harshly criticize Rep. Allen West’s (R-FL) deeply disturbing invocation of infamous Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels to attack Democrats yesterday. Two questions remain: When will Allen West apologize for the pain he continues to cause to Holocaust survivors and their families? And when will the sole Jewish Republican member of the House—House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)—weigh in and condemn these deeply disturbing remarks?
Following are a list of statements addressing Rep. West’s upsetting comments yesterday.
The Anti-Defamation League:
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed ‘outrage and dismay’ at a statement made by U.S. Rep. Allen West (R-FL), blaming reports of public disaffection with Congressional Republicans on propaganda promoted by Democrats. Rep. West told reporters in the House, ‘If Joseph Goebbels was around, he’d be very proud of the Democrat Party, because they have an incredible propaganda machine. Let’s be honest, you know, some of the people in the media are complicit with this and enabling them to get that type of message out.’
In a letter to Rep. West today, the League noted that this was not the first time he has used a Nazi analogy to make a political point.
‘We were deeply dismayed by Rep. West’s remark comparing the Democratic Party’s attempts to articulate views to the American people through the media to the efforts of the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels,’ said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor. ‘Such outrageous Holocaust analogies have no place in our political dialogue. They are offensive, they trivialize real historical events, and they diminish the memory of the six million Jews and millions of others who perished in the Holocaust.’
In its letter, the League urged Rep. West to apologize for his words before they cause further harm. ‘It is high time to excise analogies to Nazi and Hitler from the political vocabulary,’ Mr. Foxman wrote. ‘It doesn’t serve us as Americans, and cheapens our political discourse.’
The American Jewish Committee:
AJC strongly criticized the assertion by Congressman Allen West (R-Fla.) that Joseph Goebbels, the notorious Nazi Minister of Propaganda, would be ‘very proud of the Democratic Party.’
In his 2010 campaign for office, Candidate West made similar egregious remarks, comparing Democratic campaign ‘trackers’ to the Nazi secret police, decrying their ‘Gestapo-type intimidation tactics.’
‘To make a linkage between any mainstream political party in the United States and the heinous atrocities committed by the Third Reich should be simply beyond the pale, whatever political differences may arise in a heated electoral season,’ said AJC Executive Director David Harris.
‘By invoking the image of Joseph Goebbels and the Gestapo, Representative West has displayed a complete lack of understanding of the worst genocidal era in human history. Moreover, he has diminished and trivialized the unique evil perpetrated by the Third Reich through his unfortunate use of language,’ Harris concluded.
Senator Carl Levin (D-MI):
Those words betray a profound ignorance of history. Anyone invoking the specter of the Nazis to try to win a political argument has already lost it.
Representative Gary Ackerman (D-NY):
Allen West must immediately apologize for equating the efforts of Democrats to the propaganda of Joseph Goebbels. This is exactly the type of rhetoric that turns people off to Washington and getting involved in politics. I call on Republicans and Democrats alike to join me in demanding an apology.
Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL):
I am shocked that Rep. West invoked Nazi Joseph Goebbels to criticize Democrats. By comparing the way Democrats defend our record to the way the Nazi Minister of Propaganda attempted to defend and even justify the murder of 6 million Jews is utterly outrageous. I hope that Rep. West will apologize to the many Holocaust survivors in South Florida and throughout the nation.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Representative Steve Israel (D-NY):
Congressman West needs to immediately apologize for insulting the memories of the millions who lost their lives during the Holocaust. Comparing political differences today to the worst Nazi propagandist diminishes what happened to millions of Jewish families during the Second World War. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that Congressman West has made this type of hateful remark that makes a mockery of what millions of Jewish families suffered.
Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY):
In 2011, any sane person should know that Nazi analogies and casual references are offensive and inappropriate, especially in the context of political name-calling. But Congressman West takes Nazi references to a new low in seeking to smear his Democratic colleagues and score cheap political points. The only proper place for discussion of Goebbels and the Nazis is in the past tense, as a terrible and tragic part of our recent history. To so cynically invoke Goebbels demonstrates, at best, a terrible lapse in judgment, and, at worst, latent anti-Semitism that has no place in public discourse in the U.S. or anywhere else. Congressman West should apologize to his constituents, to his Democratic colleagues, and to the Jewish people for his insensitive and unfortunate choice of words.
Representative Jared Polis (D-CO):
At a time when we should be raising the level of debate in this country and focusing on real solutions to joblessness, the economy and budget deficit it is disappointing when anyone drags public discourse into the gutter. Mr. West apparently fails to grasp why comparing the top Nazi propagandist to the Democratic Party is offensive. We deserve a Congress that is better than that.
Former Representative Ron Klein (D-FL):
Once again Alan West makes a comparison of people that he disagrees with to Nazis. He still does not understand that these deliberately reckless statements not only minimize the atrocities of the Holocaust and offend its victims, but show an incredible lack of understanding of what led up to the Holocaust. In this case, West compares the Democrats’ message (which is no less or more passionate than the Republicans’ message) to Nazi Joseph Goebbels, the most sinister author and implementer of virulent, evil propaganda against Jews in history. Mr. West, in the United States we treasure our First Amendment rights to argue our political positions, something that victims of the Holocaust were never given the opportunity to do.
Florida Democratic Party Chair Rod Smith and state Representative Mark Pafford:
‘This outrageous comparison is extreme, even for Congressman Allen West,’ said state Rep. Mark Pafford. ‘Likening Democrats to Nazis is despicable and offensive. Floridians deserve more from their elected officials than inflamed rhetoric that has brought Washington to a stand-still and left the middle class out-to-dry.’
‘This country was never so united as it was in its efforts to defeat the Nazis and all they stood for; both Democrats and Republicans gave their lives in an effort to defeat the Nazi regimes,’ said Chairman of the Florida Democratic Party Rod Smith. ‘It is out-of-bounds in the discourse of this nation to refer to one of the two major parties and their supporters, both of whom have a proud history of members in Military service, as a Nazi. The Republicans should publicly disavow such a statement as I promise I would if a Democrat made similar allegations against a Republican.’
U.S. House candidate Patrick Erin Murphy:
My opponent, Allen West, said today that Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels would be ‘very proud’ of the Democrats. These remarks belittle the Holocaust, insult the Jewish community and the millions of American veterans who fought the Nazis in WWII.
Unfortunately, it is only the latest example of how Allen West is simply out of control.
Equating Democrats and the media to Nazis inflames an already hostile environment for political solutions to develop.
West must apologize immediately.
Minnesota state Representatives Frank Hornstein (DFL) and Steve Simon (DFL):
Sometimes, even in politics, someone says something in public that is so hurtful and offensive that it takes your breath away. That just happened today, when we heard Congressman Allen West’s comparison of the Democratic Party to Nazis. His specific comment, that infamous Nazi Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels would be ‘proud’ of Democrats, is an outrage. It diminishes Congressman West, it diminishes the political debate in our country, and it diminishes those who suffered at the hand of the Nazis. The real-life Josef Goebbels aided and abetted the most monstrous crimes in human history; the systematic slaughter of millions of people. To attach the name of someone so evil to political opponents, even when you disagree with them, is shameful and irresponsible. Congressman West owes an apology to all Americans, not just Democrats or Jews, for further poisoning our politics with mean-spirited comparisons. We call on him to apologize, and we call on public figures everywhere to stop using Nazi analogies that cheapen the suffering of real people.