Former Florida Tea Party congressman turned right-wing pundit Allen West returned to Trump Tower for his second visit with the president-elect and his transition team in one week, even as he failed to publicly apologize for sharing a meme with his 2.5 million Facebook followers that praised Donald Trump's pick to run the Pentagon for his plan to "exterminate" Muslims.
When West, rumored to be in talks to join Trump's national security team, arrived for his second meeting with the president-elect on Monday, he was remarkably not asked by any member of the press gathered about the meme he shared praising Trump's pick to be defense secretary, retired Marine Gen. James "Mad Dog" Mattis.
Mattis, an Obama appointee, stepped down from his United States Central Command post in 2013, just months after recommending to the president that at least 13,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan past the scheduled end of the combat mission in 2014.
Shortly after midnight Friday West praised him with a Mattis meme posted to his official Facebook post. The meme showed Mattis with the words "Fired by Obama to please the Muslims. Hired by Trump to exterminate them":
By Saturday afternoon the meme was taken down and an apology was put on Facebook by Michele Hickford, the editor-in-chief of West’s website.
"I take full responsibility for this," Hickford wrote, claiming that West had no knowledge of the post and did not consent to its posting:
Hickford did not explain why she shared the meme on West’s Facebook page. According to the New York Daily News, the post spent hours accumulating dozens of shares, likes and comments before it was removed.
A representative from the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said that an apology should be issued by the former Florida congressman who lost his re-election bid in 2012.
Hassan Shibly, the chief executive officer of Council on American-Islamic Relations in Florida, said in a statement that the post "clearly disqualifies Allen West from any future public appointments of nominations":
Allen West is a well-known Islamophobe and integral part of the multimillionaire and dangerously active Islamophobia industry in America. The former congressman's irresponsible and openly xenophobic Facebook's posting insinuating that Trump nominated Gen. (James) Mattis to exterminate Muslims should be taken serious by President-elect (Donald) Trump. This public statement clearly disqualifies Allen West from any future public appointments of nominations.
West, who is now executive director of the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis, once wrote the Prophet Muhammad was a "murderous warlord, psychopath, and, by modern-day standards, a pedophile."
A former U.S. Army lieutenant who once faced a military investigation of allegations that he fired a gun near the head of a prisoner he was interrogating in Iraq in 2003, West has been rebuked by Mattis in the past. Reviewing the case for a potential court-martial against West, Mattis wrote that the incident “shows a commander who has lost his moral balance or watched too many Hollywood movies,” defense writer Thomas Ricks wrote in his 2006 book "Fiasco." (West was fined $5,000 but not court-martialed and he retired from the military.)
Perhaps that has a bit to do with what Mattis said about Islam at a 2015 congressional hearing: "The fundamental question I believe is, 'Is political Islam in our best interest?' If not, what is our policy to authoritatively support the countervailing forces?"