OTR Interviews

Fla. Congressman West: Multiculturalism Leads to Political Correctness

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 14, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


REP. ALLEN WEST, R-FLA.: I believe that we should celebrate the diversity of the melting pot called America, but never allow multiculturalism to grow on steroids and define itself as making American culture subservient! Because yes, there is a definitive American culture!



GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Florida freshman congressman brings down the house at CPAC with his rousing speech. He probably gave many people in the crowd aching feet because they were standing, they were shouting and cheering for him while he closed out the three-day event. Florida congressman Allen West joins us. Good evening, sir.

WEST: Good evening.

VAN SUSTEREN: Boy, you...

WEST: Good to be here.

VAN SUSTEREN: You brought down the house at CPAC.

WEST: Well, we did a little something. I think that was that buzzer that I had in the seats that I kept popping and...

VAN SUSTEREN: The electric one.

WEST: Yes, the electric one, yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, in the speech (INAUDIBLE) sound we just (INAUDIBLE) you talked about defending definitive American culture against "multiculturalism on steroids." And it's about the same time that Prime Minister Cameron in London was saying essentially the same thing in Germany. What do you mean?

WEST: Well, I think it's important that we recognize that there's an American culture. I mean, there's an opening to everyone to come here to this great land. But we want them to be a part of who we are, not trying to make American culture play second fiddle to them, which I think is what you're seeing in London, in Germany, and France and several other places. So that's critical to the sustainment of this American society.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you also got a standing ovation when you said political correctness has no place in our national security strategy. Are you suggesting that multiculturalism is political correctness? And correct me if I'm wrong. And if that is...

WEST: It leads to it. It does lead to it because I think that we are so afraid of, quote, unquote, "offending" people. So you look at the national strategy. It says nothing about Islamic terrorism, nothing about jihadism, Muslim extremism. All of a sudden, we're calling combat operations "overseas contingency operations." Terrorist attacks are now "man-caused disasters." So I think that when you have leadership that is very afraid of saying that you do have a definitive enemy, that you don't want to offend people, then you kind of lead yourself down a rosy path.

VAN SUSTEREN: How do we -- I mean, where do we draw the line or how do you make the determination because one of the things that's also very enriching is learning different cultures and having friends from different backgrounds or anything. Where do you draw the line between sort of the enrichment of different cultures and the multiculturalism?

WEST: Well, I tell you, for instance, you have a multicultural family. My wife was born and raised in Jamaica, and you know, we celebrate her Jamaican culture, but it's very important that our daughters understand that they are part of a greater United States of America and understanding our history but still being respected to their culture.

And so I think that when you look at all of the different people that come here to this great nation, they come to be part of America. But we have to make sure that we are presenting it as such and that we're proud of them coming here and of them participating in what is called the American dream. But you can't sit back and say there is no language that we want to stand for, there is no definitive belief system that we want to stand up and defend. So I think it's not about losing the respect of others, it is about making sure that we don't lose a sense of who we are.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. You're a freshman congressmen. And a lot of the freshman congressmen are rattling the GOP a little bit over this whole business about budget cuts and how much to slash. What's your view in terms of what to do about the budget?

WEST: Well, it's very simple. When you look at the pledge that they made, it said $100 billion. And it's so important that your credibility is not lost, especially early on. So when they came back to us and they said they want to have a less amount of budget cuts, we said, You can't do that. You made this pledge. You said this is what we're going to go after. And the American people, just the same as Senator John Thune said, it's a spending problem here in Washington, D.C. And you just said, you know, everyone comes up here and says they're going to do this and they're going to do that, and they never do. Well, I think now is the time that we do make that change because you can't tell me what can't be done because I'm not part of a Washington, D.C., establishment. I believe that it can be done.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are your fellow freshmen as sort of passionate about that? Are they going to stand tough with you against sort of the -- the GOP -- like, those who've been here a little bit longer in the House?

WEST: Well, I think it's very important that they do, or else in two years, they'll be going home because they made commitments to the people back in their constituencies, and there's a level of expectation. No one thinks we're going come up here and turn the ship around in the first six months or even a year. But at least we need to start showing the positive indicators that we're not going to fall prey to what you just talked about earlier.

VAN SUSTEREN: So at the end of two years, your first two years -- I assume you'll run -- what do you want to accomplish?

WEST: I want to make sure that we get this fiscal situation under control. I ran on two very basic things, fiscal security and national security. And I think that if we can set the conditions for long-term, sustainable economic growth in this country, we got to make the hard decisions. You're right. We've got to look at the big three entitlement programs.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's not going to be popular.

WEST: Well, you know something? When I was a commander in the Army, there were sometimes you made decisions that weren't popular, but they were based upon the fact you wanted to keep your men alive in combat. So I want to do the things to make sure that the future generations of Americans have the exact same life that I was able to have, that my parents and grandparents left for me.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you. And welcome to Washington.

WEST: Thanks for having me.

VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to see you.

WEST: Absolutely.