Last week, Tea Party favorite Rep. Allen West (R-FL) addressed his base at a Women Impacting Nation (WIN) meeting in Boca Raton, FL. WIN’s mission is to “educate and equip women with knowledge of God’s truth” and “to support those who take a stand for those Judeo-Christian values upon which our country is founded.” West used examples of “historical fiction” to instruct attendees on the proper role for American women — namely, to make strong men.
West first weaved the ancient society of Sparta — a culture that practiced eugenics and inspired Adolf Hitler — into an example of the role of women. “What made the Spartan men strong, it was the Spartan women,” he said. “Because the Spartan women at the age of nine gave up their male sons” to train for the army. West then exulted conservative women to come forth and “lock shields” to “strengthen up the men who are going to the fight for you.” Painting women’s rights advocates as “women that have been neutering American men,” West charged attendees to fight these apparent castrators who want to force male subservience:
WEST: We need you to come in and lock shields, and strengthen up the men who are going to the fight for you. To let these other women know on the other side — these planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women that have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness — to let them know that we are not going to have our men become subservient. That’s what we need you to do. Because if you don’t, then the debt will continue to grow…deficits will continue to grow.
West’s blatant misogyny is made all the more ludicrous by the sources of his historical wisdom. In heralding Sparta, West holds up Spartan Queen Gorgo as the essential example of a woman who, speaking “out of turn” to a male emissary, said “Persian, beware, for it is Spartan women who raise Spartan men.” But this stirring confrontation comes not from ancient history but from slightly-less-ancient director Zack Snyder’s 2006 film, 300. In the movie, Queen Gorgo confronts a Persian man as West describes. But according to Plutarch, who first recorded the statment, Gorgo “is said to have” uttered the principle in response to “some foreign woman.”
West continues in this vein, next heralding the 2003 film The Last Samurai as an example of the Samurai women raising “300 Samurai warriors.” West recounted a story of Samurai leader Saigo Takamori who West said died to protect “the old way” and to stand “against that technology that was brought before them, the repeating rifles, the Gatling guns, the cannons.” Of course, the fact that Takamori had 400 Samurai at the Satsuma Rebellion and actually used the Western military methods, guns and cannons takes away from the more dramatic interpretation starring Tom Cruise. “That’s a true story,” said West of the 2003 film. “That’s historical fiction.”