Monday, May 23, 2011
Dr. West - The Old Divide and Conquer
Is anyone else as disgusted as I am with Dr. West for joining the “Hater Nation”. I am sure by now everyone has heard about the very public rift between the Chief (Obama) and the scholarly Dr. Cornel West; albeit coming from one side. This thing has brought out some heavy hitters from across the African American spectrum taking sides with respect to Dr. West’s scathing critique of President Obama’s in a series of recent interviews. This furious debate among African American bloggers and commentators could well be explained as the ol’ divide and conquer routine or is it something more sinister; say a tinge of Willie Lynch.
Of course we all know and respect Brotha West but I was surprised by many of his public remarks: “black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats.” And there are others, “I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men. . . . It’s understandable. As a young brother who grows up in a white context, brilliant African father, he’s always had to fear being a white man with black skin. All he has known culturally is white. He is just as human as I am, but that is his cultural formation.” West went on to say that Obama’s politics are more centrist than progressive and do not uplift the poor, calling the president a “newcomer . . . who wanted to reassure the establishment” and “someone who was using intermittent progressive populist language in order to justify a centrist, neoliberalist policy.” Hmmm!!!
Law and Order theme…
Some of the best and brightest African American has chimed in on this very public foray. While not placing myself in this group, I can say that I am concerned, or dare I say dismayed with respect to West’s take on Obama and race. Dr. West must remember the situation with his partner Brother Tavis during the election; he was ostracised by most for his actions that were not relevant and for not being on “the right side of history”. I don’t think anyone objects to him having an opinion but these remarks seem to be more about personal issues.
Brother West’s comments continued Tuesday night during an MSNBC interview intensifying the criticism of Obama that began shortly after the election. During the 2008 campaign, West said he traveled to 65 campaign events for the presidential candidate. Later, West complained that he was not given inauguration tickets for his brother and mother, and that Obama did not return his phone calls. In 2009, West told the New Yorker magazine that he was displeased with Obama’s well-received speech on race, which, in part, compared racial anger in the black community to that in the white community.
Melissa Harris-Perry, a Princeton professor of African American studies and politics, wrote a column for the Nation calling West’s comment “utter hilarity coming from Cornel West who has spent the bulk of his adulthood living in those deeply rooted, culturally rich, historically important black communities of Cambridge, MA and Princeton, NJ. . . . Harvard and Princeton are not places that are particularly noted for their liberating history for black men.”
Eddie Glaude, a professor of religion and African American studies at Princeton, said African Americans in academia had been discussing West’s comments for days, particularly looking at how he had deployed race in his critique of Obama. “West came out swinging,” said Glaude, who engaged in the debate on Twitter, saying he found West’s political critique much more substantive than his “racial reasoning.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton, a close Obama ally who has sparred with West over the president, said Tuesday that the issue comes down to a misunderstanding of Obama’s role. “This is the first time in this country that we have an African American president. He is not the president of African Americans,” Sharpton said. “The problem we’re seeing with too many older-minded people is you don’t want the next generation. You want clones. And people don’t have to be your clone to validate your sacrifice.”
My thoughts on these comments are this: Brotha West’s comments are extremely patronizing and arrogant, and just what is expected of us, i.e., Willie Lynch. It gives the appearance that Brotha West thinks he is sitting on high and is worthy to judge who is and who is not an authentic African American. There’s nothing West has done or written that merits this self-regard or authority. In fact, this nonsense could be akin to the “birthers” claims. These comments also indicate the degree to which Dr. West believe liberal social policies are synonymous with caring for the poor, despite the evidence that the opposite may be often true.
Brotha West must also know these comments are damaging. It would be fair for West to offer a harsh critique of Obama’s policies, if he believes it’s warranted. But to make the claim that the president’s deviations from left-wing orthodoxy are a manifestation of a “certain fear of free black men” is preposterous. Why would this Brotha inject race into this discussion? It seems as if he is saying, when it comes to politics and political philosophy there is a single “black” position or maybe “HIS” and those who don’t embrace it are racially suspect. In the case of Obama, he is said to be a “white man with black skin.” To suggest the president is a mascot and a puppet is a shamefully ugly. He need to chill!!!
Thankfully, White House declined to respond to this nonsense leaving it to others to come to the president’s defense. It’s not like the Chief, the most powerful man in the world, does not have enough to do. West sent out this message via Twitter in response to the criticism: “This discussion is in no way about me, it has to do with poor and working people having low priority in US governmental policy including the Obama Administration. My personal words had to do with being disrespected by the President. People are disrespected every day, and they can raise their voices in response to it.”
After four hundred years, its time to show unity. The Chief has been president of all people for the first term; serving all people and us too. Yes, it is true that he is only half black and identifies with both cultures. But trust and believe when he looks at himself in the mirror he knows what he sees and its black, as others do. His wife is black and his children are black. Therefore, I believe this man who is thoughtful and calculating will produce effectively that which will benefit our community.
Lets just say he appoints two more liberal Supreme Court Justices, that alone would change the course of our lives for fifty years. Then, given the benefit of doubt that once re-elected he will be able to do things that at this moment he cannot. He has performed admirably under the circumstances. When you look at what he was handed from day one. With the right wing nuts coming after him for everything that he does. If he is for it they are against it.
Then factor in the Tea Baggers – Brotha West you are behaving no different. I would suggest that we remember the last bunch that was in office and ask yourself – which would you prefer. Brotha you are not helping the cause – you are support the age old Euro tradition - Divide and Conquer. And that's my Thought Provoking Perspective...