It's a "slap in the face" to the black community to compare protests against an Arizona bill, which would let some business owners deny services to gays, to the civil-rights movement, former U.S. Rep. and retired Army Lt. Col. Allen West said Wednesday.
In an exclusive interview with "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV, West, whose Allen West Guardian Fund supports and endorses conservative military minority candidates, said comparing the movements is merely "sensationalism."
"I want people to stop saying that this is all of a sudden the new civil right because . . . it's a slap in the face to people like my parents," he said. "They knew what discrimination was, being brought up in the '20s and the '30s and '40s down in the Deep South of Georgia. So, I don't want to see us go down that path."
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West said "we're talking about something completely different" in the case of the controversial Arizona bill passed last week by its legislature. On Wednesday night, Gov. Jan Brewer announced she was vetoing the bill.
"When you look at the struggles that the black community had to go through, you're talking about lynchings, you're talking about poll tests, you're talking about literacy tests, the Ku Klux Klan, all of those type of intimidation measures," West said.
"Let's be very honest, all of those things did come from the Democrat Party, so it's very interesting to hear them now trying to ballyhoo this point as well."
West said that what's being lost in the controversy is the perspective provided by two cases, one in Oregon involving a bakery
that didn't want to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple and one in New Mexico, where a portrait studio
didn't want to photograph a lesbian wedding.
"We run a very dangerous line when the government or the state starts to give preferential treatment of sexuality, of sexual behavior, against a small-business owner," he said.
"This is not about telling people that they can't go to a certain restaurant or whatever, this is just saying that certain people may not want to participate or support certain activities, like these two cases where the marriages were occurring."
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