Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) rejected President Obama’s comparison between Martin Luther King Jr. and what he called the “Occupy Wall Street gangs.”
“Martin Luther King Jr. would not have backed these types of protesters,” West said, noting that he was born and raised in King’s neighborhood. “First of all, Martin Luther King, Jr. had a focus, a message. He was divinely inspired. I don’t know what the inspiration is for these individuals.”
Obama last weekend suggested the civil-rights leader would have sympathized with the ongoing demonstrations against Wall Street, indicating both movements sought justice.
West slammed the protest movement as hypocritical and unfocused in comparison to the Tea Party movement in an interview with Newsmax published Tuesday evening.
“I think the hypocrisy of this movement is somewhat laughable,” he said. “[Unemployment] has nothing to do with Wall Street. It has everything to do with the failed policies coming out of the Obama administration.”
West said he is wary of the movement because it seems to want to end capitalism and replace it with something else.
“This progressive movement is really what communists were called back in the 19th, beginning of the 20th century. We’re starting to really see the face of who liberal progressives are,” West said. “I think there is a danger in the people on Capitol Hill starting to embrace this movement.”
West’s sharp remarks about the movement, which has drawn Democratic support, follows a week in which the Republican leadership seemed to tamp down their early criticism of the protests.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to criticize the movement on Fox News Tuesday night.
“I think people are free to express themselves in this country on any subject they choose to,” he said. “People can have their say.”
However, West’s perspective seemed to echo that of many of the larger Tea Party-affiliated groups, who have pushed back against comparisons between the conservative, grassroots movement and the progressive Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.
West, a favorite of the Tea Party, vigorously defended the Tea Party movement in comparison to the Occupy Wall Street crowds, saying the comparison was like “a shotgun as opposed to a precision-guided munition,” with the Tea Party being the more focused weapon.
“When you talk to somebody with the Tea Party, they can tell you what they want — limited government that’s constitutionally mandated, fiscal responsibility — they also want to see our free market and free enterprise systems adhered to, as well as our national security,” he said.