During a part of the Obama era, Allen West served as a caricature of conspiracy-minded right-wing id. It’s just that he also served in Congress as a tea-party darling.
Nowadays, he’s actively summiting with Team Trump, and his much-visited Facebook page is now trafficking in material promoting the mass slaughter of Muslim people.
On Monday, West (a one-term congressman who was previously pushed out of the U.S. Army after allegedly firing his gun near the head of a prisoner he was interrogating) again stopped by Trump Tower. He had visited the Tower earlier this month to meet Vice President-elect Mike Pence and incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to discuss ways West could potentially “continue to serve” his country, according to West.
"I mean, they know my reputation very well,” West told reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower following that meeting. “I'm just a simple soldier.”
A big part of his reputation is his anti-Muslim ravings, and it was only two days ago that West and his team had to walk-back a particularly genocidal example.
On Saturday, the editor-in-chief of Allenbwest.com was forced to apologize about a meme posted to West’s Facebook page. The image featured a photo of Trump’s defense secretary pick retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, and read “Fired by Obama to please the Muslims” at the top, and “Hired by Trump to exterminate them,” as the kicker. (Mattis himself once wrote that West’s behavior revealed “a commander who has lost his moral balance or watched too many Hollywood movies.”)
“The image has been removed,” the apology read. “It does not reflect Col. West's beliefs, principles and values.”
The problem is that if we’re talking about virulently anti-Muslim values and beliefs, it is difficult to argue that West does not espouse such values.
In 2010, West famously railed against “Coexist” bumper stickers—stickers that some people put on their cars to show support for pluralism and religious tolerance—because they made him feel less safe.
“We already have a Fifth Column that is already infiltrating into our colleges, into our universities, into our high schools, into our religious aspect, our cultural aspect, our financial, our political systems in this country,” West alleged. “And that enemy represents something called Islam. And Islam is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology; it is not a religion. It has not been a religion since 622 A.D., and we need to have individuals that stand up and say that.”
In 2011, West, invited a group called Citizens for National Security to Capitol Hill to rant about how they possessed a secret list of 6,000 members of the Muslim Brotherhood living in and trying to destroy America. (For a frame of reference, West also once alleged that “78 or 81” members of the House Progressive Caucus were secret members of the Communist Party.)
West, a failed House representative who used to brag about being the “liberal’s worst nightmare,” is an extreme, borderline irrelevance whose existence has been infused with a newfound political relevance but latching onto an ascendant Trumpism. (Think: Alex Jones, white supremacist activists, etc.)
Trump’s openly bigoted (and successful!) presidential campaign against groups such as Muslims and Mexicans kept the door wide open for people like West to be taken seriously once again by powerful people, this time by an incoming Trump administration. And beyond his conversations and meetings with Trump’s presidential transition team, the Republican president-elect’s admiration and affection for West goes back years.
“Great seeing you last night at record setting Mar-a-Lago Republican event,” Trump tweeted at West in February 2014. “The crowd loved you!”
Later that year, he quote-tweeted someone calling for a "much needed Trump/West ticket” because the two men are “2 straight talkers who understand the enemy/world.”
West, for all his far-right excesses (or perhaps because of them), is yet another fringe-ish character who very clearly has the ear, respect, attention, and the similar political attitudes of the next leader of the free world.
“Donald Trump won. The Chicago Cubs won. Army beat Navy after 15 years. And Fidel Castro is dead...what a freaking awesome year!” West posted to Facebook over the weekend. “Proud day to be an American Soldier.”