We Can Overcome: An American Black Conservative Manifesto – Allen West
We Can Overcome: An American Black Conservative Manifesto – Allen West
“Ordinary people — when called upon — do extraordinary things…” Lieutenant Colonel Allen West is the embodiment of his own words. In a career-defining moment, the combat veteran stood up for his soldiers in an extraordinary way. He now serves his constituents as the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. West discusses his military career, the history of the Black community and his most recent book with host Charles Mizrahi.
- An Introduction to Allen West (00:00:00)
- The Importance of Family (00:06:13)
- Conservativism in the Black Community (00:11:36)
- Campus Speaker (00:19:38)
- A Defining Moment in Iraq (00:24:53)
- The Greatest Generation (00:30:06)
- Public Service for Youth (00:35:33)
- Equality of Opportunity (00:39:04)
- The Next Chapter (00:42:00)
Lieutenant Colonel Allen West (ret.) came from humble beginnings in Atlanta, Georgia, and worked his way up. At the core of his upbringing and success was family. West is the third generation of military servicemen among four. He received several honors throughout his career, including a Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal and Army Commendation Medal.
After retiring from the military in 2003, West worked as a defense contractor and adviser until he transitioned into politics. In November 2010, he was elected to Congress and represented Florida’s 22nd District. Today, he’s the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas.
Before You Leave:
ALLEN WEST: About 50 years ago, over 70% of the folks who served in The United States Congress served in the military. Now, that number is down 18%. I think that that has an incredible relation to the lack of care and concern about our country and a disregard to the oath that they’ve supposedly taken to the Constitution.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: My guest today is Lieutenant Colonel Allen West. Colonel West was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, in the same neighborhood where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached. After graduating from the University of Tennessee, Colonel West entered the Army and became part of the third of four generations of military servicemen — all combat veterans — in his family.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: In November 2010, Colonel West was elected to The United States Congress, representing Florida’s 22nd District. He currently serves as the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. His most recent book: We Can Overcome: An American Black Conservative Manifesto, urges Black America to return to conservative principles — the same ones that once had entire Black neighborhoods building wealth and thriving.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: I recently sat down with Colonel West to talk about the history of the Black community and the values that enabled them to improve their lives and overcome.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Colonel West, I want to thank you for coming on the show. I was looking forward to it for the past few weeks. When I heard you were coming on the show, I started reading your book. I finished it this morning, and there was a lot of great stuff!
ALLEN WEST: Thanks for having me, Charles. I think that We Can Overcome is very important when we look at this divisive racial narrative that’s being proliferated across the country. Consider what Senator Tim Scott said in his response to Joe Biden’s address last week — when he said America is not a racist country. And look at all of the flack that he’s taken by including a Democratic county chairman from Texas who’s called Senator Scott an “Oreo.”
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Isn’t that crazy? The party that says it’s all for fairness and social justice is name-calling. I just don’t get that.
ALLEN WEST: Well, when you talk about systemic racism, you look at their history. You look at the documentary Uncle Tom. It talks about the history of the Democratic Party. And if there have ever been purveyors of systemic racism, they’ve come from the Democrat Party — all the way up to today.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Colonel, I want to get into that because I loved this book. I didn’t mention the title. It’s a fantastic book. We Can Overcome. First of all, there’s a lot about that. I want to get into that in just a moment.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: But what I really liked about your book is that you put so much history in there. You gave the background. The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln — the party that freed the slaves. And the Democrats were always against that throughout history. You put the turning point around Kennedy, and I want to talk to you about that.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: But before we do that… When a person writes a book, I always look to whom they dedicate it. Because that tells you something. Most people skip over it, but it really gets to what drove you, who you had in mind, and who we have to thank. In your book, there was one person I know — who’s well-known — and one person I thought I knew but didn’t. And they are Booker T. Washington and Henry O. Flipper. Tell me why you dedicated your book to these two people.
ALLEN WEST: I wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for those two men. Booker T. Washington is the man who I call “the father of Black conservatism.” His basic principles for establishing the Tuskegee Institute down in Alabama were education, entrepreneurship and self-reliance. Those are conservative principles. I wish that we had more of that being proliferated throughout the Black community.
ALLEN WEST: And Henry O. Flipper is very simple. He was the first Black graduate of West Point. In other words: He was the first Black commissioned officer in The United States Army. He made it possible for me. And the other great thing about Henry O. Flipper is that he’s a Georgian — just like the guy who you’re talking to right now.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: All right. Beautiful. That’s great, man. So, your book starts on February 7, 1961. You’re born in a hospital in Atlanta in the historic Fourth Ward.
ALLEN WEST: The Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: The Old Fourth Ward. But I think what was so telling about that book — and it was just brilliant how you wove it in — was that it was a hospital that was specifically for Black people.
ALLEN WEST: Yeah. Hugh Spalding Hospital, which was part of the Grady Health System at the time, was Blacks-only. Of course, today, Hugh Spalding Hospital is a children’s hospital. But again, when you want to talk about what I have seen, experienced and been able to achieve in this incredible country…
ALLEN WEST: Think about the fact that in 1961 — only 60 years ago — I was born at a Blacks-only hospital. But what I went on to be able to accomplish here in this incredible land…
ALLEN WEST: My dad was just a corporal in World War II — in a segregated Army. And I became a battalion commander — lieutenant colonel — who led troops in combat. I got the opportunity to become a member of The United States House of Representatives and represent the highest per-capita income zip code in the country at that time. That was Palm Beach Island. And guess who had property in the congressional district I was honored to represent? Mar-a-Lago.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Donald Trump.
ALLEN WEST: [He] and Rush Limbaugh were constituents of mine. In that short period of time, a kid can be born in the inner city of Atlanta, Georgia — in a Blacks-only hospital. And that’s where he gets to grow up to be? Now, I’m the chairman of the largest Republican-State party in The United States of America — and that’s in Texas. So, those are the messages that we need to get out there instead of the ones we hear about being a victim instead of a victor.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Right. Your story is the American dream — regardless of color or creed. You came from humble beginnings and worked your way up. And the lubricant was education, a great family, a mother and father who were devoted to you and a stable family life. You have one chapter in the book and it’s killer: “Decimation of the Black Family.”
ALLEN WEST: I really and truthfully believe that this was something that was intentional from the progressive, socialist left. Because even though I was born at a Blacks-only hospital in 1961, the two-parent household in the Black community was somewhere between 75% and 77% at the time. Mothers and fathers were in the home. You did not see kids in my neighborhood who did not have a mommy and daddy at home. And that was so constructed. That was so important in the way that we grew up.
ALLEN WEST: As a matter of fact, in Proverbs 22:6 — one of my favorite verses — it says: “Train up a child in the way that they should go so that when they grow old, they shall not depart from it.”
ALLEN WEST: Yet, what you saw happen with the Great Society programs of Lyndon B. Johnson was the complete decimation of the Black family — slowly but surely. So today, we only have 24% of little Black boys and girls who have mothers and fathers in the home. And look at the problems in the inner-city communities today.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Let’s go back for a second. How did the Black community — The Republican Party was their party. It was the party that freed the slaves. Correct me if I’m wrong — you know history better than I — but the Republican Party was created to free the slaves, right?
ALLEN WEST: Yep. Single-issue — 1854.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, here it is. I know it’s always bad to broad-stroke, but if you just look at the numbers, they vote for Democrats. Where did it go off the rails?
ALLEN WEST: Back when Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy were running for president, Martin Luther King Jr. was in jail in Birmingham. Both of their respective campaigns asked their candidate to reach out to Coretta Scott King, offer their condolences and show some sympathy and concern. Richard Nixon refused to do so, but a rumor got out — and it’s never been confirmed — that John F. Kennedy did.
ALLEN WEST: So, from that moment on, growing up in the south, every single living room in a Black community had three pictures. They were our lord and savior Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy.
ALLEN WEST: On top of that, when Kennedy was assassinated, Lyndon Johnson — who was a very skilled politician — looked for a way to leverage the Civil Rights Act and get Black support. He made a very disparaging comment on Air Force One to get some southern governors to support it.
ALLEN WEST: Right now, our country is discussing the filibuster. Well, the longest-ever filibuster in U.S. history was the Senate Democrats’ filibuster against the Civil Rights Act. The Civil Rights Act passed because of Senator Everett Dirksen and Senate Republicans.
ALLEN WEST: But the thing is that, as George Santayana once said: “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” That’s why we don’t hear this history being taught. We don’t hear it being discussed because there is a narrative out there that Republicans have always been racist when they were the ones that started the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. The very first Black members of The United States House of Representatives and Senate were Black and from the south.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, the nucleus of the Black family — LBJ gives out checks to women who have children. But tell us what that stipulation was. They only got that check if…
ALLEN WEST: They could not have a working man in the home. So, what the government did was replace the entity that had been so strong in the Black community — a principled, dedicated, and loving father who was there in the house and helped raise his children with his wife. So, they destroyed the two-parent household with the government largesse. In other words: They started to create victims [instead of] victors.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: How does this tide change?
ALLEN WEST: I think we’ve started to see it happen because people are realizing what’s going on. That’s why people like myself, Senator Tim Scott or Candice Owens — Black conservatives — are so viciously assailed by the progressive, socialist left. When you think about an organization like Black Lives Matter, my response to them is always: “Which Black lives matter?”
ALLEN WEST: They don’t talk about the Black lives that have been decimated because of the loss of a family structure. They don’ talk about Black-on-Black crime. They don’t talk about the 20 million Black babies who have been murdered in the womb since Roe v. Wade. They don’t talk about the Black kids who don’t have the opportunity for a quality education like I had because inner-city communities are failing public schools. And the teachers’ unions are dominant.
ALLEN WEST: So, that’s what we have to do. We have to go on offense. We have to talk about these things. And don’t get reticent or recalcitrant when someone calls you name — which is what the left always does.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Why are they so bothered? Let’s put this right on the table. I look at you and say: “Here’s a guy who wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He had working parents.” Your mom worked in the Marines, right?
ALLEN WEST: She worked for the Marine headquarters in Atlanta.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: OK, so you opted for education, and you had a strong family. Your father wanted — or challenged — you to be an officer. You stayed in school, excelled, went into the Army, worked your way up and made a career of it. You got out of the Army. You were a congressman.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Now, you’re the Republican chairman in Texas. Take the other position, for example. What can I say that [argues] that you are not an exception? Why do they look at you as the exception? Why do they call you names? Why is that?
ALLEN WEST: Because we’re a threat to their narrative. That’s why you see the Black community being replaced by the Hispanic community. They need a new dependent society. So, that’s why they have the borders open. They have already done what they needed to do to the Black community. We are now the second-largest minority population. And every weekend, we’re killing ourselves off in the cities that are run by Democrats.
ALLEN WEST: If you allow a voice like mine, Senator Tim Scott’s or even Condoleezza Rice’s to be prominent in the country, then it defeats their narrative. Now, what do they do? They also employ what I call the “21st century economic plantation gatekeepers” — the overseers. They’re the Black progressive socialists who they unleash on Black conservatives to make them fear standing up and speaking out against these policies.
ALLEN WEST: When I think about someone like Barack Obama and all of the incredible work that he could have done — how he could have reversed this or taken a greater stand. It wasn’t important to him. The only thing that was important to Barack Obama was driving out the Black community — in droves — for this historical moment and including white Americans — and all Americans — because we want to move past that thing called slavery, segregation and what have you.
ALLEN WEST: But what do you see them doing now? They’re just bringing us right back to it. Truthfully, in their minds, we will never be able to overcome racism or slavery because they’re going to continue to use it as the new Marxist tool. Instead of class division, it’s racial division.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, it’s in their best interest to keep this garbage going on and on. It’s helping them suppress and destroy the Black community.
ALLEN WEST: Yeah. They’re going to continue to perpetuate it. If you want to talk about a genocide — I don’t know the numbers in 2020, but I think that there were 12 unarmed Black men who were shot by white police officers in 2019. But since Roe v. Wade in 1973, 20 million Black babies have been murdered in the womb. This comes at the hands of an organization — Planned Parenthood — that was founded by a white supremacist by the name of Margaret Sanger — who referred to Blacks as undesirables.
ALLEN WEST: Yet, the first quote unquote female candidate for presidency — Hillary Clinton — received the Margaret Sanger award. But no one wanted to discuss that. No one wanted to call that out. Again, I think it’s this narrative that they want to have out there that keeps the 21st century economic plantation. Now, it’s not about harvesting cotton. It’s about harvesting votes. That’s what the Democrats want.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Why aren’t these inner-city communities embracing you and having you stand up there to be like the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons? They’re out there. They’re working really hard to tell Black people what they are. You’re telling them what they could be.
ALLEN WEST: Well, that’s the whole purpose of the book. If you think about the title and how it’s juxtaposed — so many people say “We shall overcome.” Well, “shall” is a passive verb. That’s why I say: “We can overcome.” Because “can” is an active verb. And what I try to do in the book is say: “This is how we reverse this. This is how we get back to blocking and tackling. This is what I remember the Black community being. And what do we need to do to get back to that?”
ALLEN WEST: I think that slowly but surely, we are turning that page. We’re turning that corner. But it’s going to take some time. I believe that we may have lost one or two generations in the Black community — and these charlatans who are consistently brought out.
ALLEN WEST: Think about Joe Biden’s words during his campaign when he said: “If you don’t vote for me, you ain’t Black.” There are the types of things that we allow people to say and get away with. But I think we’re getting to the point in the Black community where people are starting to realize their color does not define their thought processes and ideology.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Where are you seeing that? How are you seeing that?
ALLEN WEST: Well, when I talk to a lot of these young Black conservatives and look at some of the things that are happening — the fact that Donald Trump got the most minority electoral support of any Republican president or candidate in 60 years means that we’re getting back to understanding.
ALLEN WEST: A documentary like Uncle Tom — I don’t know if you’ve seen that — has had incredible inroads, and it’s causing people to think. It’s causing people to challenge the status quo and darkness that they’ve been wandering around in. I think that slowly but surely, we’re getting it out there. Again, it’s just so blatantly obvious. When you talk about systemic racism, there’s only one political party that has been the purveyor. We just have to have the courage to go out there and challenge it.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Under President Trump, you had the lowest Black, Hispanic, and Asian unemployment. Why aren’t they getting this? I’m looking at the numbers. If I just look just at the empirical evidence, something has changed during the past four years that’s making that possible. And now we’re going backwards.
ALLEN WEST: You’ll have to read the book: Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky. A couple of his rules are to repeat the negative and push it to be a positive, pick the target, isolate it and freeze it. And you continue until you destroy it. The left was never going to talk about the issues on its media platforms. They were only going to talk about one thing, and that was: “You have to hate Donald Trump. The orange man is bad.”
ALLEN WEST: I think what President Trump should realize — if he could do something retrospectively — is that they made him the issue instead of the economy, unemployment and national security. Think about all the things that he did in the Black community. He supported the historic Black colleges and universities, criminal justice reform and economic and educational opportunity zones. But they weren’t going to talk about these things. So, I think it would have behooved the President to make himself less of the focus or target and then get out there on Black media platforms.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: I just saw a whole bunch of college kids got up and walked out on YouTube. How silly is that? What is your reception when you go on college campuses?
ALLEN WEST: Well, you’re always going to have that group of naysayers. And it doesn’t bother me whatsoever. You can go on Google a video of a young Black female at Northwestern University. They invited me to talk about the Iranian nuclear agreement. For a guy from Georgia, I thought I did a pretty good job. But the first question was from this young Black female who came up and said: “Do you identify as Black?”
CHARLES MIZRAHI: I saw that. She was Black? I thought she was white.
ALLEN WEST: No, she’s Black.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: First of all, I can’t believe you didn’t yell at her. She showed disrespect when she said: “I’m not finished.” She shouted you down until she finished. First of all, what kind of kid is raised that way? What kind of parents [does she have]? Where someone is older than you — she totally disrespected you.
ALLEN WEST: Well, that’s one of the things you have to confront. I believe that if you have the high ground, you don’t need to raise your voice. You just need to draw in your ideological opposition and destroy them with the facts. That’s what I did in engaging her.
ALLEN WEST: The interesting thing is that later on, she came back to the microphone and apologized.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Oh, I didn’t see that.
ALLEN WEST: That wasn’t the thing. But think about it. I think one or two million people have seen this. How embarrassing for her to come up before a person who’s a retired Lieutenant Colonel and former member of Congress and be so disrespectful and condescending as to ask me if I identified as Black.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: I just got so upset when she was yelling at you — and you were answering her question. The fact that you’re old enough to be her father — that’s just a break-down of societal bounds.
ALLEN WEST: That’s what the left has done. I remember the biggest beatdown I got from my dad was when I was in his hometown where he grew up — Cuthbert, Georgia. I wrote about it in my book. When I came back in — I was playing basketball and goofing off with some of my friends down there — my dad floored me. He knocked me clean off my feet. And the reason [for that] was because I walked back home and did not greet the old people who were sitting on their porches.
ALLEN WEST: From then on, I knew you always said: “Good afternoon. Good morning, ma’am. Sir, how you doing?” But we don’t have that. When you look at that disregard and disrespect of authority figures — or being an adult — look at what happens in our schools. These young people don’t respect teachers anymore.
ALLEN WEST: The worst thing that could have ever happened to me was for my teacher to call my house. I would do anything that you wanted. I would stay there, sweep the floors or clean the blackboard. Do not call Buck and Snooks. I knew that it would be the longest walk home. I would have been a dead man walking. That’s exactly what I would have been.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: The principals knew this [about] kids. I don’t want your mother to come up. I want your father. Now, my father had to lose a day of work and come up to school. Boy, oh boy. I’m getting nervous just thinking about it. That was insane. Today, it doesn’t matter. The teacher is wrong. The school’s wrong. The kid is right. And the parent supports the kid.
ALLEN WEST: Yeah, absolutely. And in the Black community, it’s not always parents. Maybe it’s a parent or aunt. Maybe it’s a grandparent — a grandmother. So, you’ve seen a wholehearted decimation of a societal structure that really made the Black community strong during some of the worst and darkest hours in this country.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: You have to give me more positives. I’m just not seeing it. Maybe it’s because I live in New York City. I’m seeing the Black community led in a totally different way. And they don’t have people like you as role models. They’re looking at people like you as outliers or exceptions. I’m just not seeing this optimism that you’re seeing. Tell me why.
ALLEN WEST: Well, I spent 22 years in the military. My favorite American military hero is Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain — the hero of Little Round Top on the second day of Gettysburg.
ALLEN WEST: Chamberlain is there. His unit is being decimated. The Confederates continue to attack Little Round Top. He’s been shot in the leg. They’ve run out of ammunition. And what does Chamberlain do? He doesn’t fold his tent and say: “I’m going to surrender and retreat.” He knew he couldn’t. He said: “Fix bayonets.” And so, I always believed that if we stand upon principle with resolve and courage, we will win the day. I just see that happening.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: And he was a professor of rhetoric or something, right?
ALLEN WEST: He was not a trained military man.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Crazy, right?
ALLEN WEST: But the story of America is that ordinary people — when called upon — do extraordinary things. And I think that happened for America.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Speaking of extraordinary things — what a segue huh? That sounds like a Tonight Show thing. Speaking of extraordinary things, when you were serving in Iraq, you did an extraordinary thing. You stood up. That was extraordinary. Not many people would have done so. Could you share with our listeners what you did and why you said: “I’d go through hell with a gasoline can for my men”?
ALLEN WEST: Yeah, it was amazing. I think that we all have that moment in our lives that could possibly define us. And that happened for me back in 2003 when I was a battalion commander in Iraq.
ALLEN WEST: We had seen an uptick of attacks, and we got intelligence saying that some of our operations and patrol routes were being leaked to the bad guys. We had to try to work with the local Iraqi police officers.
ALLEN WEST: There was one gentleman who was fingered to us, and we detained him. He was not forthcoming with any information. And so, I did a psychological intimidation trick. I went down and said that I was going to shoot and kill him. I had no intention of doing so. But you wanted to let this individual know how serious you were. So, I fired my nine-millimeter Beretta over his head and into a weapon clearing barrel. And he gave us some information.
ALLEN WEST: Of course, I reported myself. I was always forthcoming about it. So, I went through what’s called an Article 32 — which is the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing. I remember being put on the stand. I was asked: “When you see all that has come about from the action that you took, and you’ve risked going to jail for eight years, and you’ve possibly lost your career, would you do it again?” That’s when I said: “If it’s about the safety and lives of my men, I’d go through hell with gasoline can.”
ALLEN WEST: And that’s what we need to have. I don’t like politicians. I want leaders. I want statesmen. I want people who are going to stand up and say what people need to hear — not what they want to hear — and be willing to suffer the ramifications thereof. But they’ve got to know that they’re doing what’s right — and what’s best for their country and the people that they’ve been called to lead or serve.
ALLEN WEST: So, that was a defining moment for me. I would have never thought that would be such a big deal when the plane landed and I redeployed back to Fort Hood, Texas, from Iraq.
ALLEN WEST: But I think that you’re supposed to stand up for who you are. I got that lesson from my mother, Charles. My mother raised me with this simple lesson. She said: “A man must stand for something or else he’ll fall for anything.” So, I just tried to be the living example of what my mother and father taught me to do.
ALLEN WEST: My dad was a combat veteran in World War II. My other older brother was a combat veteran in Vietnam. He was a Marine infantryman. And I remember that right before I shipped out for my first duty assignment in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, they said: “You have to take care of your men. They will see you as a lieutenant, but you want them to respect you as a man.”
CHARLES MIZRAHI: You didn’t have to report yourself, right? No one would have reported you.
ALLEN WEST: Yeah, but you have to do the right thing.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: How old were you when that happened?
ALLEN WEST: That was in 2003, so I was 42.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: You go back to the family. A lesson that you learned at the feet of your mom — of decency and doing the right thing. I’m speaking for you, but I don’t think there was a nanosecond of doubt about what you were going to do.
ALLEN WEST: That, and then you asked the question about reporting yourself. You have to be responsible and accountable for your actions. I didn’t try to blame anybody else. I did not try to eschew my responsibility or get someone to see me as a victim. I took responsibility for my actions. I think that’s something that really helped in the entire case and situation. I stood up and said: “Yes, I’ll write out my statement. I’ll explain every second of exactly what I said and did. And you’ll have to make the decision on that.”
ALLEN WEST: But what was so interesting was that later on, when I was a member of The United States House of Representatives, and I was sitting on the Armed Services Committee —as you know, all of the generals have to come and testify before the Armed Services Committee.
ALLEN WEST: Well, the commanding general who brought the charges against me in 2003 in Iraq was the chief of staff of the Army. He had to sit there before me and give his testimony. I knew some of the critical priorities that he had for the Army. I love the Army. The Army made me who I am today. I kind of gave him the layup question so he could talk about those priorities and I could support him. After the hearing, he came up to me and said: “I’m incredibly proud of you.”
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Wow. That’s really nice, man. Imagine him sitting there and seeing you. That’s a turning point. That’s crazy, right?
ALLEN WEST: Yeah, but that’s a blessing.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Yeah. The military — with your dad and the Greatest Generation — these guys went through hell and back. The freedoms and liberties we have are because of the sacrifices that they made. This was before the internet. It was before Facebook. You didn’t see your family for years. You didn’t see family deaths or whatever. You didn’t attend when your mom or pop died. It was just a terrible, terrible time.
And these 18, 19 and 20-year-old kids won democracy. They defended democracy. Your father was a combat vet at a time when it was really hard. The Army wasn’t integrated until Truman.
ALLEN WEST: Yeah, it was a segregated army. It was so incredible when you had a dad — and this is why dads are so important — who was born in 1920 down south. He grew up in some horrible conditions and went off to serve his country in a segregated army. But yet, when you are 15 years of age, your dad looks at you and says that there’s no great honor then wearing the uniform of The United States of America. And he said: “I was just a corporal. Your older brother was a lance corporal. I want you to be the first officer in our family.”
ALLEN WEST: That’s what two strong parents in a household can do. They can give you that balance and teach you about what it means to be a principled person. My mom would say: “The measure of a man is not how many times you get knocked down. It’s how many times you get back up.” And that helped me because she was a big sports fan. She loved that I played football.
ALLEN WEST: And even though my dad grew up in a segregated country, he said: “Boy, go out there and be a soldier. Be an officer. Lead people and defend this country and the great principles that it believes in and was built upon.
ALLEN WEST: Coming back to the beginning of our discussion, that’s why it’s so important to understand that we can overcome. But it means that you’ve got to restore the incredible, strong structure within the household.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: For some of our younger listeners: To be a Black man in uniform after World War II in the south — that was inviting people to beat you up. People got beat up. People got lynched — just wearing a military uniform. I remember reading that when they were bringing down German prisoners of war to the south, they could walk through the railway cars and the Black soldiers couldn’t because they were segregated. Here is the enemy!
ALLEN WEST: Yeah. The German POWs had the opportunity to go to movie theaters. And the Black soldiers couldn’t. But that’s the true testimony of the Greatest Generation of young Black men who fought for this country. The Tuskegee Airmen, Triple Nickles, first airborne paratroopers and Montford Point Marines knew that their service, sacrifice and commitment would open doors for someone like myself.
ALLEN WEST: Coming back to what you asked me about the dedication of the book — imagine you’re Henry O. Flipper. You’re the only Black man at West Point. What he had to endure and go through…
ALLEN WEST: And the Army even tried to court-martial him out. But of course, his record has been restored. But think about what he did and sacrificed so that I could be here.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: What year was that? What year was he at West Point?
ALLEN WEST: That was after the Civil War. I’d have to go back and check. But again, think about how rough it was and what he went through. The 9th and 10th Calvary. These Black men were out there protecting the settlers and safeguarding the wagon trains as they moved westward. And they couldn’t even go into some of the towns that they were protecting. But they still protected those towns. See, that’s a part of the history that we need to teach — not this 1619 crap.
ALLEN WEST: We need to remember Crispus Attucks — the Black man who lost his life in the Boston Massacre. We need to remember the 54th Massachusetts regiment. The first Black soldiers in uniform. But remember: They could not have an officer. So, white officers commanded them.
ALLEN WEST: All of these things are part of history that I want to carry on. And the great thing about my dad is that his grandson is now a lieutenant colonel in The United States Army. My nephew — my older brother’s son — has done three combat tours of duty. He’s a paratrooper. He’s an artillery officer — just like I was. And that all came from a simple man born in 1920 in Alabama.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Wow. I want to ask you one thing. In Israel, it’s a citizen army. Every male and female have to serve three years. I think the female is down to two years. I’m not really sure. And then there’s a many years of reserve duty. For those who are more observant, there’s even service. The women and men don’t have to go. But even now, the ultra-Orthodox are going to the army. Put that aside. Their service — what are your thoughts?
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Look what the military made out of you. Look what he did to your father. Look what it did to your family. What are your thoughts? I’ve thought about this a lot when you see these young kids. What if we had some type of service program for two years after high school? Work anywhere in the country — in charity work, a hospital or parks. If you don’t want to go into the military, that’s fine. But [should they do] some type of public service to be grateful that what they have here was given to you on a silver platter because people sacrificed?
ALLEN WEST: Absolutely. I wholeheartedly agree with you in that there should be some semblance of national service. When I look at these young kids joining groups like Antifa or Black Lives Matter, they’re out there chanting: “No borders, no walls, no USA at all.” That’s absolutely appalling because so many men and women have laid down their lives for this great nation that they live in. And they need to understand how great it is and how to give back to it. There’s something bigger and better than their iPads, iPhones and triple mocha lattes.
ALLEN WEST: So, I do think that we should have some form of national service. I’m not a fan of compelling people to join the military in The United States of America because as a former commander, I don’t want to spend all my time with a couple of bad apples who really don’t want to be there.
ALLEN WEST: When you look at a country like Israel, they’re surrounded by bad people. They understand that each and every one of them must stand up and take that place on the wall. But yes, without a doubt, we need to get back to understanding what service is.
ALLEN WEST: Think about this: About 50 years ago, over 70% of the folks who served in The United States Congress served in the military. Now, that number is down 18%. I think that that has an incredible relation to the lack of care and concern about our country and a disregard to the oath that they’ve supposedly taken to the Constitution.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: It’s easy to talk about taking a knee during the national anthem. Forget about the soldiers for a second because that’s a special class of amazing people. Here’s what I’ve always thought. And tell me if I’m off the charts on this. You have to do national service for one year after high school. And it has to be at least 90 miles away from your home. So, you can pick where you go. That way, we get people to go from one side of the country to the other side and see how different people live.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: You learn to have more tolerance toward people who would not like you. And more importantly, you channel all the energy and anxiety that a lot of young people have towards good. You’re not going to be the same person if you help the Red Cross during a flood or work in a hospital. You’re not going to be the same person.
ALLEN WEST: I absolutely agree with you. One of the things that I saw in the military is when you bring in people from all different aspects of life — all different parts of the country — they become a team. That’s the beauty of the military. It takes individuals and turns them into a team that focuses on one thing: defending the Constitution of The United States of America. That’s the oath we take.
ALLEN WEST: I agree that it’s so important to start challenging our young people and stop coddling them and treating them like they’re perfect. Then, when they fail and believe that everything has ended, we have to encourage them to get back up and continue to try. This is not a zero-defects life that you’re living. So, I think that’s an important step when we go forward as a nation.
ALLEN WEST: Think about Abraham Lincoln and how many times he lost political races. Yet, he became one of our greatest presidents. Think about Harry Truman and how he was a failure as a businessman. But he went on to become one of our great presidents. He was just a simple man. So, it comes back to what I said: Ordinary men and women do extraordinary things.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: By the way, you start this, and I’m right behind you. I think it’s just so simple because it creates an ethos in the country. You’re a history buff, and you know this. It was only after the Civil War that we weren’t calling ourselves Virginians or New Yorkers. We started calling ourselves Americans. It took the Civil War to do that.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: I’m thinking that a practical solution is to get young people to start seeing that there’s something bigger than themselves. They grew up the generation where everyone’s a winner. Everyone gets a trophy. Well, that’s not the way life works.
ALLEN WEST: That’s the culture of the participation trophy. We did something very terrible to young people [because] we believed that we could give them self-esteem. My mom and dad taught me that self-esteem only comes by doing esteem-able things — not sitting on the bench. And you get a trophy for sitting on the bench.
ALLEN WEST: Let me tell you something. My mommy and daddy did not come to watch me sit on the bench. They told me to practice harder — to go out there and do better drills. But don’t sit back there and allow someone to give you a plastic trinket to make you feel good when you did not contribute anything. So, we need to get more young people onto the playing field and off the sidelines or out of the stands.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: At my son’s school, when he was in seventh or eighth grade, one of these parents said: “We have to give all the kids a trophy.” And I said: “But isn’t the diploma and graduation the trophy, and those who excelled get a trophy?” And she said: “No, we have to show them that they’re all equal.” All right. I didn’t win that argument. So, they gave all the kids a trophy. And those who excelled in math — or whatever — got another trophy. In 30 seconds, these kids figured out: “Oh, you got the BS trophy.” They weren’t stupid.
ALLEN WEST: No, they’re not. They keep score. And really what you’re talking about is the difference between my life and what socialism would do. My life — and the lives of so many others — is defined by equality of opportunity. But what the left wants is equality of outcomes.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Wow, nice. That’s great. So, what does the future hold for you? You’re the chairman of the Republican Party in Texas. Where are you going from there?
ALLEN WEST: I trust in the Lord. I’ll just see where he leads me. I just want to be a humble and obedient servant to God, my country and Texas. I don’t sit around and try to plot my next move. I just wanted to be able to be used by this great nation at a critical time. That’s it.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Do you think he’s pointing you towards Pennsylvania Avenue? Is that possible?
ALLEN WEST: I don’t know. There are a lot of people who think that they belong on Pennsylvania Avenue. I’m happy to be right over here on Eastern Hills Drive in Garland, Texas.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: All right. That’s great. Colonel West, you are not just a hero, you’re an inspiration to not only me but so many young people. By the way, that’s one thing about investing. That’s what we do in our newsletter and all. I always say that I don’t really have that many original ideas. I try to clone and follow smarter people. Why re-create the wheel? I just want to stand on the shoulders of giants.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Looking at your life and what you’ve accomplished — and if I’m not mistaken, your lovely wife has a Ph.D.—
ALLEN WEST: I married way outside of my league.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: You lucked out.
ALLEN WEST: She’s an immigrant from Jamaica who has a dual bachelor’s degree in marketing and finance, an MBA and a Ph.D. And you know what’s beautiful? Her dad served 24 years in The United States Army. He was also a veteran of Vietnam. I believe he may be the only Jamaican immigrant American who is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Really? Wow. You know what I find about the Jamaican community — because we have a large community here in Brooklyn —
ALLEN WEST: Yeah, that’s what she’s from.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Oh, really?
ALLEN WEST: Oh, yeah.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: They’re very like our community — like the Jewish community — in terms of a patriarchal family. Everyone gets together. Everyone helps everyone else. If you have to take four jobs to get your kid into a private school, you take four jobs. It’s all for the family. It’s all for education. And the utmost respect goes to the mom or papa. And there’s no disrespect anywhere else. And everyone cares about everyone else. That has to be the magic.
ALLEN WEST: It is the magic. And if there’s a closing thought I can leave, it’s that we have to get back to making victors and stop making victims.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Amen. Colonel West, thank you so much and God bless you. Keep doing great work. We need you.
ALLEN WEST: You got me.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Thank you.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Thanks for listening to this episode of The Charles Mizrahi Show. If you’re a new listener, welcome! If you’ve been listening for a while, we’re glad to have you back. Either way, we’d love to know what you think of the show. Please leave a review if you listen on Apple Podcasts. Reviews make it easier for others to find the show. You can also see the video of the interview on The Charles Mizrahi Show channel on YouTube.
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