When a new congressman arrives in Washington D.C., one of the first things he learns is to tone down the florid rhetoric that got him elected in the first place.
The nature of national politics forces compromise on its practitioners. It’s all but inevitable; everyone knows that. A congressman’s principles become more elastic the longer he’s in office.
I had hoped that LTC Allen West (ret.) would be different. In speech after speech he proved that he had read and understood the Koran, the hadith, and the sunna. He was emphatic about the danger that Islam posed.
Nothing about “radical” or “moderate” Islam. Just Islam, unmodified.
That seems to have changed. I just received a tip about this story from a reader in Switzerland. First, from The Palm Beach Post:
Four leaders of Jewish, Christian and interfaith groups signed a letter Wednesday expressing “deep concern” to U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, about his recent criticism of Muslim U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and West’s “tendency to offer intemperate comments about Islam.”
In an interview on The Shalom Show, West (around the 1:50 mark on the video above) referred to Ellison as “someone that really does represent the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established.”
The letter writers also note that West has called Islam “a totalitarian theocratic political ideology, it is not a religion.”
So far, so good. But Col. West’s response took me aback. According to the The Sun-Sentinel’s Florida Politics Blog:
West immediately replied that he respects Islam, has fought to protect religious freedom and has directed his scorn only at “a radical jihadist movement.”
In response, West said on Wednesday his comments on Ellison “are not about his Islamic faith but about his continued support of CAIR (the Council on American Islamic Relations.”
“It is the extremist, radical element that has hijacked Islam that presents a dangerous threat to both our country and our allies throughout the world,” West said in a return letter. “This radical jihadist movement has no place in the United States of America or anywhere on earth.”
“The problem is, these fanatics are often supported by certain groups and organizations that masquerade as more peaceful moderates,” West wrote. “Organizations such as CAIR have long histories of supporting violent anti-American and anti-Israel terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood.”
West told the letter-writers he shares their goal to exercise and safeguard religious tolerance. [emphasis added]
Is this Col. Allen West, or former President George W. Bush?
I wish this story were not true, but it is.
Our Swiss correspondent had this to say about it:
And was it yesterday that I had read a news article at Gates of Vienna, on those very same remarks, which made me think that West sure had principles? And now, after what, not even a month in office or just a little over that, West comes up with this, sounding like Tony Blair, George W. Bush and Buraq Hussein… I don’t even want to think about what he’ll have turned into after 3 MONTHS in Congress. At least I know that Oskar Freysinger, even though I’m not registered to vote in his home canton, will never do anything like this. And Geert Wilders sure hasn’t shown any indication that he’d ever betray those who support his fight against Islamization either.
Et tu, Col. West?