Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Allen West sparked outrage over the weekend when an Islamophobic meme featuring retired Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to serve as defense secretary, showed up on the former Florida congressman’s Facebook page.
The image was especially notable because West, who met with members of Trump’s transition team at Trump Tower last week, returned for more meetings there on Monday.
“We’ll see when I get up there,” he said when asked what prompted his visit.
The post included an image of Mattis — who most recently served as the head of the U.S. Central Command under President Obama until his 2013 retirement — and a caption asserting that he had been “fired by Obama to please the Muslims” and “hired by Trump to exterminate them.” It was taken down Saturday, and the editor of West’s personal website issued an apology claiming that West was unaware the meme had been posted.
“On Friday night, without Allen West’s knowledge or consent, a meme was posted to this Facebook page which was reprehensible in its message,” Michele Hickford, editor-in-chief of West’s website, wrote on his Facebook page. “Its message was despicable, offensive to many, and a terrible error in judgement by the person who posted it. Furthermore, it does not reflect Col. West’s beliefs, principles and values. I (Michele Hickford) am deeply sorry for the distress this has caused so many people.”
But the Council on American–Islamic Relations, the country’s leading Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, says an apology from West’s web editor isn’t good enough.
Wilfredo Ruiz, spokesman for CAIR-Florida, said in a statement to ABC’s Pembroke Park, Fla., affiliate that Muslim Americans are “still missing any reaction from Allen West himself disowning this xenophobic expression.”
“The former congressman’s irresponsible and openly xenophobic Facebook’s posting insinuating that Trump nominated Gen. Mattis to exterminate Muslims should be taken serious by President-elect Trump,” CAIR-Florida CEO Hassan Shibly said in a statement.
It’s certainly not the first time West has sparked controversy.
In his two short years in Washington, D.C., West became known for his outlandish statements.
In 2011, West said that if noted Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels were alive, “he’d be very proud of the Democrat party.”
In a 2012 speech on the House floor, West said that Democratic support for social welfare programs was “the most insidious form of slavery remaining in the world today.”
And in 2015, West mistakenly suggested that he couldn’t buy alcohol from a Walmart cashier in Dallas because the employee was Muslim and that the store had adopted “Sharia law” prohibiting alcohol consumption.
But as it turned out, the cashier was simply too young to sell alcohol.