“I’m disgusted. I find it absolutely reprehensible because this is not about skin color. This is about your character. This is about your competence. This is about your ability to lead. And this is about potentially you having misled the Congress and the American people on this operation Fast and Furious,” Rep. Allen West (R-FL) told NRA News.

Why did Rep. West have such strong words for attorney general Eric Holder?

Recently, the calls for Holder’s resignation on Capitol Hill have increased as the investigation into the ATF’s “Fast and Furious” gunrunning probe intensifies. Perhaps overwhelmed by the growing pressure, Holder tried to explain the that “more extreme segment” of his critics were going after him because of his race.

“This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him, both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American,” Holder said in an interview with The New York Times.

However, many argue that race has nothing to do with the growing–and increasingly heated–criticism Holder has faced recently.

“I think it’s fair criticism. When you look at Fast and Furious … when you look at guns ending up in the hands of drug lords and criminals south of the border, I think that’s fair criticism,” J.C. Watts, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma, told Fox News.

An African American himself, Watts warned against injecting race into the issue.

“I think it cheapens and it weakens the legitimate claims of racism,” he said. “I think racism is obviously alive and well, but I think it cheapens it when we so quickly and in such cavalier ways, we often jump to that. Now I’m not saying that the attorney general’s being cavalier. … He probably honestly feels like that.”

Watts’ criticism of Holder’s introduction of racism into the discussion pales in comparison to the words West had for the attorney general.

“It is a slap in my face as a professional African American member of Congress and a career military officer, that this gentleman who is the head of the Department of Justice is going to resort to that very nefarious theme of the race card,” West said.

Listen to the NRA interview:

(h/t Weasel Zippers)