By Alicia M. Cohn - 04/19/12 01:02 PM EDT
CPC Co-chairmen Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) compared West's remarks to those of former Sen. Joe McCarthy, who "divided Americans with name-calling and modern-day witch hunts that don’t advance policies to benefit people’s lives.” McCarthy was censured by the Senate for the tactics he used in his attempt to root out Soviet spies and sympathizers during the Cold War.
West has not backed off the comment. “I’m not going to back down. I’m not going to be afraid about the fact that I called a spade a spade," he said Tuesday.
On CNN, West referred host Soledad O'Brien to the members of the CPC when she asked him to "name names" of the communists in Congress. "You've got the names," he said.
West, a freshman member popular with the grassroots Tea Party movement, is well-known for making controversial statements and standing by them.
"I've had to give quite a few people a little tutorial about the political spectrum of ideologies," West said on CNN. "At the turn of the century here in the United States of America, American communists renamed themselves progressives, but the strategy, the tactics, the ideology remains the same. When you're a member of a caucus that wanted to have a constitutional amendment to redistribute wealth in the United States of America, I don't think that's in keeping with the principles and values of this country."