Allen West’s Communist Conspiracy Implicates Woodrow Wilson

Noted Communist Woodrow Wilson.Wikimedia

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


Rep. Allen West has been on a tear recently trying to defend his assertion that liberal Democrats are actually communists. West’s argument focuses not on Democrats’ commitment to the dictatorship of the proletariat or the elimination of private enterprise, but the fact that Democrats generally support public assistance and regulation of private industry. 

All of this is ridiculous, but perhaps my favorite West assertion of late is the idea that President Woodrow Wilson was a communist. Here is Mr. West’s reasoning, as relayed by TPM’s Eric Kleefield:

I think that if you would take the time to study the political spectrum of ideologies, you’d understand that at the turn of the [20th] century, American Communists renamed themselves as progressives. If you study the Woodrow Wilson administration, people referred to the Woodrow Wilson administration as a progressive administration.

So Wilson described himself as progressive, and progressive just means communist, so Wilson was a communist. This is fifth-grade logic.

Tim Weiner’s excellent history of the FBI goes into great detail about Wilson’s record on communism, but here are a few examples of how President Wilson, in real life, dealt with self-identified communists and socialists:

  • Wilson imprisoned and deported communists, socialists, and leftists for just generally holding views he found subversive.
  • Wilson threw American Socialist Party leader Eugene V. Debs, who had garnered nearly a million votes running against Wilson in 1912, in prison for speaking out against the imprisonment of anti-war leftists.
  • Wilson sent American soldiers to support Czarist forces against Bolshevik revolutionaries during the Russian civil war in 1918.
  • Wilson appointed A. Mitchell Palmer as his Attorney General. The iconic 1920 Palmer Raids resulted in mass arrests and deportations of suspected leftists of all stripes.

How many communists do you have to kill and/or throw in prison to not be considered a communist? It’s not like Wilson lacks for actual flaws either, given that he was a huge racist and Confederate sympathizer, among other things.

At this point, you’re probably thinking that Wilson, the self-identified progressive, might be better described as an anti-communist than a communist. But that’s because you’re not looking at the big picture. Wilson’s assault on civil liberties eventually resulted in the formation of the American Civil Liberties Union, which—I’m about to blow your mind—was obviously the plan all along.

Partisan derangement is usually directed at a president currently in office; West is gifted in the sense that he’s able to maintain a right-wing fever swamp perspective on a president elected a hundred years ago. But if a guy who locks up communists for protesting wars can’t catch a break because he supports a federal income tax, the House Progressive Caucus probably doesn’t have much of a chance either.  

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.