Allen West: I Am The Modern Day Harriet Tubman [UPDATE]
WASHINGTON -- Freshman Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) said Wednesday that he is "the modern day Harriet Tubman" leading people away from the plantation, which is overseen by "perceived leaders in the black community" like Jesse Jackson who bow to the wishes of white liberals.
During an appearance on Fox News' "The O’Reilly Factor," West said black Democrats have consistently failed to address high unemployment in the black community and, in the meantime, continue to take black votes for granted come election time.
"So you have this 21st Century plantation ... where the Democrat party has forever taken the black vote for granted, and you have established certain black leaders who are nothing more than the overseers of that plantation," West said. "And now the people on that plantation are upset because they’ve been disregarded, disrespected and their concerns are not cared about."
"So I’m here as the modern day Harriet Tubman to kind of lead people on the Underground Railroad away from that plantation into a sense of sensibility."
West, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, told show host Laura Ingraham that she was "absolutely" correct to say that Congressional black leaders like Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) or Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) function as a "plantation boss."
"What you end up having -- I’m going to be brutally honest -- is that white liberals have turned over to certain leaders or ‘perceived leaders’ in the black community, like a Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton or Maxine Waters or Barbara Lee, and said, you know, pacify and keep the black community firmly behind us, regardless of the failures of our social welfare policies," West continued.
The freshman Republican said the fact that black leaders have done nothing in response to the recent spate of flash mobs in U.S. cities is proof of their disconnect from the black community. This summer has been marked by flash mobs in several cities, including Philadelphia and Cleveland; the uprising is thought to be fueled by growing discontent among unemployed urban youth.
"That’s the absence of this ‘leadership’ in the black community," West added, "which as I say are nothing more than overseers of this 21st century plantation."
A request for clarification from the congressman's office was not immediately returned.
West is no stranger to controversy. Last month, he got in hot water for calling Democratic National Committee Chairwoman and fellow Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) "vile" and "not a lady" in a vitriolic email he sent to her and party leaders.
He has also compared being gay to liking chocolate chip ice cream.
West later sent a statement to The Huffington Post to clarify his Harriet Tubman analogy.
"Harriet Tubman is known for her efforts to rescue slaves and bring them off of the plantations to freedom. It took one person to begin a process which eventually led to the end of slavery," West said. "Today in the black community, we see individuals who are either wedded to a subsistence check or an employment check."
"Democrat physical enslavement has now become liberal economic enslavement, which is just as horrible."
"When unemployment is at more than 15 percent in the black community and we see the vicious cycle of fatherless children generation after generation, we need to find a new path," West continued. "I am willing to stand up for the Conservative principles that I believe can help move our community forward."
A spokeswoman for Rep. Barbara Lee fired back at West for accusing her of being a "plantation boss" to the black community.
"Congressman West’s comments are absurd on their face," said Lee spokeswoman Kristal DeKleer, "and are simply another in a long stream of incendiary comments designed to fan the flames of the extreme right while they continue to do nothing to create jobs and address the tremendous disparities we face in this nation.”