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Allen West: Gays Can Change But “Unless I’m Michael Jackson, I Can’t Change My Color”

by David Badash on May 31, 2011

in Bigotry Watch,Don't Ask Don't Tell,News,Politics

Post image for Allen West: Gays Can Change But “Unless I’m Michael Jackson, I Can’t Change My Color”

Rep. Allen West (R-FL) has again come out against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, this tie saying that, “Unless I’m Michael Jackson, I can’t change my color. But people can change behavior.” People, meaning gay people, whom West presumably thinks can just become straight — or act like it to please his sense of right and wrong.

“Dubbing the military implementation of DADT repeal as ‘considerable social experimentation,’ the Heritage Foundation asked West what top leadership can do “to ensure that force effectiveness is sustained at a superior level,” writes Think Progress. “West opted to ‘put it very simple,’ stating that the military does not conform to the individual or ‘a very small special interest group’ like the LGBT community.”

Earlier this month at a town hall meeting, West falsely told his constituents that “China is in control of the Panama Canal.” Also recently, West was caught saying that liberal women are “neutering American men,” and called President Obama a “low level Socialist agitator.”

READ: Allen West: “China Is In Control Of The Panama Canal,” One Of Many Falsehoods

But West is perhaps best known for this false statement:

“I had a Top Secret/​Security Compartmented Information classification, that is the highest you can have in the United States Army. You don’t get a security classification like that if you have financial issues like that. I still retain a Secret security clearance. And I tell you, if you look at the application for a security clearance, I have a clearance that even the president of the United States cannot obtain because of my background.”

The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell faced a setback last week when the Republican House voted to include three anti-LGBT bills in their final version of the NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act. The Senate must now work to relieve the Act of those bills. It is unclear if the President would sign the bill if it includes the anti-gay amendments.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has not yet been repealed, contrary to what many believe. Rather, the President in late December signed the law that established a path for repeal.


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kirbster66 May 31, 2011 at 5:15 pm

It's sad to experience a black bigot. Of all people, a black man should be bigoted against people who nor more control over their sexual orientation than he does of his race. If he's too stupid to know that sexual orientation is as genetic as is race, he's too stupid to be a congressman. Why anyone would ever believe anything that comes out of his mouth, given his track record, is beyond me. Sad, sad, sad!

onewordsmith May 31, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Add to black, bigoted, and a liar — ignorant.

Apparently West has no knowledge of a cultural icon of his own race and gender. Michael Jackson had the disease Vitiligo and it is devastating to black people because it turns their skin white in blotches. It is an autoimmune disease that requires eventually treating the skin of the whole body to even out the color. As Vitiligo progresses and spreads it becomes life threatening with exposure to the sun and eventually destroys all the pigmentation esentially rendering the individual an Albino.

This kind of rhetoric is typical of a bully that hasn't dealt with his own gender and race issues and feels compelled to project his ego's shadow onto others. Shameful.

A congressman who doesn't do his research, check for facts, doesn't mind lying and derides people and makes fun of their illnesses.

A public servant with a public forum who is supposed to be representing people and helping to govern. We are in big trouble.

septspirit June 4, 2011 at 2:17 am

West, redeem yourself and see to it that Jackson is bestowed with a Congressional Gold Medal in both the Entertainment and Humanitarianism categories. He exceeded the qualifications for, and is more than deserving of both.
…the recipient shall have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient’s field long after the achievement; the achievements were performed in the recipient’s field of endeavor,
and…represent either a lifetime of continuous superior achievements or a single achievement so significant that the recipient is recognized and acclaimed by others in the same field, as evidenced by the recipient having received the highest honors in the field.

layne5 May 31, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Mr. West: As a practicing physician, I'd like to educate you just a bit. Universal Vitiligo is a disorder
wherein the body destroys melanin producing cells. As a result, the patient loses normal skin tone,
becoming progressively lighter…the same disorder Mr. Jackson suffered from, as confirmed by the
LA County Coroner at autopsy. And Jackson dealt with this gradual change on a world stage; vilified
and accused of 'wanting' to be white. And a US Congressman in 2011continues ignorant statements
such as yours..simply unbelieveable. Just as sexual orientation and one's genetics are not under an individual's control, so too are disease processes such as vitiligo.

I find the ignorance and stupidity of your comment appalling. You are dismissing a grand humanitarian,
social activist, lifelong conservationist and unique talent with your drivel, while managing to offend
others who may suffer with the same disorder. Shame on you.

Glenda_in_Texas May 31, 2011 at 11:10 pm

I had to register just to comment on this article. I agree on what the other 3 posters said. Those were bigotted and ignorant statements made by Rep. West on Gays and Michael Jackson. The others said it much better but you really need to do some research on Vitiligo. I say shame on you and the other ignorant people out there making comments on MJ's vitiligo and not researching before they open their mouths.

MJJJusticeProject May 31, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Truly, it is unsupposable that a black man, in congress nonetheless, could be so uncultured and cruel. Sadly, you have chosen to subject us all to your maniacal mindset. Everything you have said is counterfactual. You are a murderer. Your sadistic outlook poisons others with your barbaric and hateful opinion. It is the likes of you that kills truth and hope…you are a murderer. A black bigot. How many times were you called the "N" word? How many times did you have to fight just to get home from school. Now, my dear tokened brother, what do you have do do just to be in congress? Obviously attack a man who suffered from vitiligo, women and gays. No one would listen to you otherwise. You are a fool, and all the people you work with know it. Let me tell you…you will not be elected again. I will broadcast the filth and sleaze that you present to us all. You are not even worth old gum on the bottom of my shoe. Certainly, I would like you to be able to speak with intellegence, and truth…sadly, I know you lack that capacity. Enough said.

Dr. Catherine Gross

MJJJusticeProject – “An injustice to one man, is an injustice to mankind”

tabccb June 1, 2011 at 12:11 am

Allen West is Racist, sexist, homophobic, and ignorant. Blacks with vitiligo have been objects of ridicule and amusement for white people through history. At least Allen West sjouke have thought about that prior to uttering his ridiculous statement using Michael Jackson as an analogy. But, don't let an official autopsy report confirming the vitiligo Michael Jackson revealed to the world nearly two decades ago. The media never believed Jackson about this in life and there are those, like West, who don't even believe it upon Jackson's death. The people of Florida better take a closer look at this idiot they elected to represent them. Simply pathetic…ignorance gets old!

Stuart_M June 1, 2011 at 11:13 am

Mr West,

I am a Black Republican. I raised my children — four — by myself, after my wife died many years ago. All grown now, they are each productive, healthy, contributing members of society. The thing I am most proud of though — is their ability to think before they speak. It is a mark of wisdom, and more than that, it denotes a sensibility that can carry a person to greatness.

There are many problems in this grand and complex country of ours, but none is more damning and pervasive as ignorance. The late Michael Jackson — who by the way — was a catalyst for positive social change, massive philanthropic contribution and social consciousness — long before you eyed the prize on the Hill, suffered from the condition of Vitiligo.

This condition affects millions of people around the world, is massively debilitating and affects those who suffer from it — mentally as well as physically. In members of our race — of which you are one Mr West — its effects are particularly pronounced. For you to make the statement you made about a man whom so many gross misperceptions still exist — is nothing short of profoundly ignorant.

I will not only be writing to my local congressman to complain about your idiocy, I will also make sure every person I come across knows what an insult to our race you actually are.

Stuart Mackie,
New York.

Susan62509 June 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Allen West~
An apology to Michael Jackson's three minor children are in order from your lips to their ears. To use another well known person's name to make a point in your article is despicable, but to use the name of a famous man who suffered with vitiligo is verbal abuse and bullying at its finest. Shame on you !! Michael has over 35 million fans in the world and you are a very small person. Michael wrote this song for people just like you: "Man in the Mirror" Listen and perhaps you will learn something.

666Judson June 1, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Part 1:

Rep. West has an exhaustible number of feet to stick in his own mouth. Yet he still manages to speak, albeit incoherently. How he does it is a question worthy of Jeopardy. The pursuit of Civil and Human Rights is not to be taken lightly, least of all by a beneficiary who owes his status to those who endured the whip, the dog, the branding iron, and the noose. Brave souls of all stripes stood together — victimized, disrespected, slighted, ignored, abused, injured and murdered – determined to be heard. I am a Human Being.
They rejected second-class status or invisibility from a country they helped to build and forced America to practice what it preached. Think where Rep. West and all of us would be today if the brave ones had listened to the voice saying, “Just change and be satisfied. Bow your head and be silent. Crawl on your belly and be grateful.” We must guard against the selfish inclination to ‘close the door on others once we get ours’. Hard-won rights are easily snatched away when our backs are turned.

666Judson June 1, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Part 2:

West jokes about the late Michael Jackson, a Human Being afflicted with an aggressive form of vitiligo, a disfiguring disease that destroys skin pigmentation and leaves the body vulnerable to skin cancer and other ailments. Jackson’s condition was exacerbated by a destructive tabloid press spinning the juicier, more profitable myth that he bleached his skin to escape being Black. Michael Jackson soldiered on through triumphs, betrayals, false accusations, vindication in the courts – all the time embraced by and embracing humanity without labels and without conditions.

Rep. West’s politics needs an intense infusion of such Humanity, Grace, and Generosity of Spirit.

Ned_Flaherty June 1, 2011 at 6:55 pm

U.S. Representative Allen West (R-Florida) is ignorant and mis-informed, on 5 counts.

1. West thinks bisexual, lesbian, and gay sexual orientations are arbitrary, whimsical behaviors that any individual can change easily, just like grabbing a new pair of socks.

He’s wrong. All 5 sexual orientations — bisexual, lesbian, gay, heterosexual, asexual — are innate, fundamental components of the entire person. Decades ago, credible professionals accepted modern scientific research which proved that sexual orientations are generally fundamental and immutable.

Ned_Flaherty June 1, 2011 at 6:55 pm

2. West also assumes — again, incorrectly — that fairness and equality are just a “social experiment.”

He’s wrong. Most large American employers treat personnel of all sexual orientations equally and fairly. And 41 other nations already allow open service in their armed forces. And 21 states already have some form of marriage equality (same-sex marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership): CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, HI, IA, IL, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OR, RI, VT, WA, WI. What West mistakenly calls a “social experiment” is already commonplace. The only thing out of place is West himself.

Ned_Flaherty June 1, 2011 at 6:56 pm

3. West claims to be worried about “what our young men and women have to contend with.” But he ignores the fact that millions of bisexuals, lesbians, and gays served well across the 20th/21st centuries, and 78,000 are serving right now. The morale and performance of those 78,000 would benefit greatly if they weren’t forced by federal law to lie about who they are, how they live, and who they love.

barrettsh June 1, 2011 at 10:27 pm

I won't address the gay issue at this time, however I want to address your comment about Mr. Jackson.

You might not be aware that Mr. Jackson did not have a choice about what color his skin was. He had a skin disease called "vitiligo" that destroys the pigmentation in one's skin. He could not help this, and had no control over this disease.

His skin color changed on it's own. Would you make such crude jokes about a diabetic or bald cancer patient – or someone who had psoriasis – perhaps stating that they chose to change their skin into lizard skin? Of course not.

You should also not make such remarks about Michael Jackson. According to the autopsy report, Jackson did in fact suffer with this disease, so all the snide commentary in the media about his appearance were cruel and uncalled for, as they are coming from you.

This comment regarding Jackson's 'changing his skin color', as if that was something he arbitrarily *chose* to do – is both ignorant and disrespectful.

You might consider apologizing to Mr. Jackson's family and his children for these remarks. They have enough to deal with while awaiting the trial of his killer and with the loss of their loved one, without hearing this type of commentary from politicians. An African American politician no less, who really ought to know better.

The days of verbally battering Michael Jackson with crude jokes about his appearance are over. Have some respect, please.


Nathy93 June 1, 2011 at 11:36 pm

Mr. West,

Apparently, you has no knowledge about Michael Jackson. Michael didn't change his skin color. He had a chronic skin disorder, called, vitiligo. This disease destroys the skin pigmentation. Michael had no control over it. Michael was a admirable human being. He devoted his entire life to make the world a better place, helped thousands of people with his philanthropic work. Throughout his life, he always spread a message of love and peace through his music. Your unfounded comments are a consequence of what media did to Michael. The media created absurd lies about Michael, through their sensationalist articles and programs, to soil his name. I think you should do a research before say unfounded things. You should respect him and follow his life example.

MWelch1 June 2, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Mr. West,

I am very disappointed to read comments from an United States Congressman regarding a variety of topics. An United States Congressman is supposed to represent the people and respect the people of the country. I am not going to get into most of these topics, but I want to address Michael Jackson.

As the other posters have said Michael Jackson suffered from Vitiligo that stemed from Discoid Lupus. Mr. Jackson was diagnosed with Vitiligo in 1986 and Discoid Lupus in the early 1980s. If you look at pictures of Mr. Jackson from the early 1980s you will see a butterfly rash which is one of many symptoms of Discoid Lupus.

MWelch1 June 2, 2011 at 1:37 pm

If you want more information about Disoid Lupus and Vitiligo here is the website that offers the information:…. As you can see having Discoid Lupus and Vitiligo together is a serious issue that needs to be treated seriously. Also, here is Mr. Jackson's autopsy report if you need further proof of Mr. Jackson's Vitiligo:….

As a United States Congressman you are not supposed to follow tabloids, you are expected by the American people to be better than these "journalists" and be an advocate for respect and truth. You are also supposed to not be a school – yard bully and be a man that values respect, truth, and wisdom. You are supposed to think before you speak. As an citizen of the United States I expect nothing less than these traits mentioned above.


JamLoveChange June 2, 2011 at 2:07 pm

We haven't forgotten your uneducated comments. It is time to expect people in leadership positions to be better educated. Your comments continue to be disrespectful and downright inaccurate. Michael Jackson had a skin disorder, a medical fact.

Vitiligo is a skin disease which appears as the patchy appearance of complete loss of brown pigment (melanin) in the skin. In vitiligo, the cells which produce brown color, called melanocytes, are destroyed. Normally, these melanocytes are not able to reproduce and make new cells, so the areas where the color is gone may remain white without treatment, or melanocytes from other areas may migrate into the white spots and take over for the lost melanocytes. The skin in the areas of color loss is normal except for the color: the texture, skin thickness and number of hair follicles remains normal but the hair in these areas usually turns white over time. The cause of vitiligo is not completely known, but there are several theories.

JamLoveChange June 2, 2011 at 2:08 pm

) The immune system may attack and destroy the melanocytes. This is called an autoimmune reaction (reaction to "self" instead of to outside invaders such as bacteria).

2) Lethal chemical reactions may occur during the process of making melanin and these reactions may kill the melanocyte.

3) The nerves which are in the skin may produce signals which cause the death of melanocytes. This mechanism may explain why some vitiligo is segmental (only occurs in specific area, such as along the lines of nerves).

More than one mechanism may be at work in a particular patient.

JamLoveChange June 2, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Michael Jackson was not about prejudice. He was not able to control the loss of pigmentation. How can you use Mr. Jackson's documented skin disease as a punch line. you can not make up your own facts and that story is so innaccurate and uneducated on so many levels it's disturbing. seriously, I'm not being rude, you need to educate yourself better. Ridiculing someone with a medical condition is ignorant. Michael Jackson was not about prejudice. He was not able to prevent the loss of his skin color. He was a proud BLACK man.

JamLoveChange June 2, 2011 at 2:10 pm

look in the mirror I know im black. Its time to look in the morror and make a change. MJ

New York City speech about racism via @youtube

Michael Jackson speech about Freedom and Love. Dont forget his words! Re… via @youtube

This is not just about what you said about Michael. Your opinion about Gay and Lesbians is very intollerant and not acceptable. It's disturbing to see you comment so cruelly about him and and other people you clearly have no understanding about. What is worse, you clearly do not want to educate yourself on the topics you are speaking on.

JamLoveChange June 2, 2011 at 2:10 pm

With the availability of information today, there really is no excuse for anyone to not know better. "Intentional Ignorance". You are seriously underestimating Michael Jackson Fans. We do our homework. I recommend you start researching your topics better.

Sophisticat June 2, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Mr. West, are you really as dumb as you pretend to be? You said people can change their behavior. You should change yours. They way you're carrying on, you're a disgrace to your country, your ethnic group, your profession and humanity!

worldpoliticsuncovered June 2, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Pathetic. I won't waste my time with further comments.

AColpean June 3, 2011 at 11:46 pm

I'm writing you today pertaining to your recent comment, "Gays Can Change But Unless I’m Michael Jackson, I Can’t Change My Color". Sir Allen West, You are greatly misinformed about sexual orientation, Michael Jackson and skin disorders. First, I would like to address your misinformation about sexual orientation. The current consensus among scholars is that sexual orientation is not a choice. Sexual Orientation is a major component of a persons self identity and Since Sexual Orientation is not a choice, you can not change it. The American Psychological Association has carried out a systematic review, which not only concludes that psychological interventions are not effective at changing sexual orientation, but they can also cause significant harm to the individual. According to a study by the Williams Institute in January 2010, 66,000 gay, lesbian and bisexual service members are enlisted in the United States Military and the Rand Corp. 2010 Study on gays in the military an estimated 78,000 gay, lesbian and bisexual troops on active duty and reserve. So May I ask you Mr. West, Since when is equality a "Social Experiment"? We are country that prides itself on equality and fair treatment of individuals, and yet we have a law that prevents people from being who they are and being open with the one the love. Isn't that a contradiction? Everyone is entitled to equal rights. Specially, the men and women who put their life on the line for it.

Now, I will address your misinformation and derogatory comment about Michael Jackson. Sir, You are greatly misinformed again. Mr. Michael Jackson had a skin disease called Vitiligo. Vitiligo is a disorder that causes depigmentation of patches of skin. It occurs when melanocytes, the cells responsible for skin pigmentation, die or are unable to function. Research of vitiligo suggests that it may arise from autoimmune (e.g. Lupus), genetic, oxidative stress, neural, or viral causes. People with Vitiligo have no control over this devastating disease and According to the autopsy report Mr. Michael Jackson did suffer with this disease. Mr. Michael Jackson was a strong proud black man, Here is Mr. Michael Jackson in his own words, "I'm a black American, I am proud of my race. I am proud of who I am. I have a lot of pride and dignity." The creams found at his home after his passing were use to treat him and even out the skin tone. People with this devastating disease are sunburned very easily and at a extremely high risk of skin caner. Mr. Michael Jackson was lied and ridiculed by the tabloid press in from of the whole world. Can you imagine Mr. West losing your pigmentation due to this devastating disease? And Then have the press say disgusting lies and ridiculing you? Even with all the facts, They are still doing it for profit. Can you imagine, How his family must feel about your remarks? I implore you to stop and think about what you are saying and who it effects. My dear cousin has Psoriasis, Would you bully her too? And Do you bully people about having cancer or aids? "Never Judge A Man Until You've Walked To Moons In His Moccasins" – A Native American proverb. As an elected congressmen, I hope you stop with your ignorant remarks and start doing your job. Thank You for your time.

septspirit June 4, 2011 at 2:07 am

It is the ill-informed representatives such as West, Peter King, etal who prevent Jackson from being bestowed with the recognition and honor he deserves as a US son and ambassador to the world.__Instead of ridicule and slander, Jackson should be honored with a Congressional Gold Medal in both the Entertainment and Humanitarianism categories. He exceeded the qualifications for, and is more than deserving of both. __…the recipient shall have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient’s field long after the achievement; the achievements were performed in the recipient’s field of endeavor,
and…represent either a lifetime of continuous superior achievements or a single achievement so significant that the recipient is recognized and acclaimed by others in the same field, as evidenced by the recipient having received the highest honors in the field.

Sen Sheila Jackson-Lee from Texas couldn't even get a House Resolution passed.

It is a disgrace that Jackson's accomplishments cannot be recognized in his country of origin because some choose to hold as truth the rumors, innuendo, and lies that dominated Medialoid headlines. Mr West should issue an apology for failing to do adequate research before misrepresenting Jackson, then join Sen Jackson-Lee in ensuring that Jackson is bestowed with the honors he deserves.

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