Cornel West…And President Obama

Cornel West certainly has a problem with President Obama – and this isn’t the first time it has come out. The last time his criticisms were so ill formed and logic so convoluted he got his head handed to him.

Well…Maybe Dr West has learned something, although it must have been a tremendous blow to his over-sized ego to do so.

This is actually a pretty reasonable critique of Obama’s Presidency sans a few things I will discuss below.

Cornel West’s 8 Most Eye-Opening Critiques of Barack Obama’s Presidency

Very few progressive voices articulate more vitriol and uncompromising disdain for President Barack Obama than Cornel West. During Obama’s six years in the White House, West has critiqued every layer of the president’s policies, from his use of drones in the Middle East to what he feels is the president’s cozy relationship with Wall Street.

In 2011, West wrote in the New York Times that Obama has fallen short of epitomizing Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream.

“The age of Obama has fallen tragically short of fulfilling King’s prophetic legacy,” he wrote. “Instead of articulating a radical democratic vision and fighting for homeowners, workers and poor people in the form of mortgage relief, jobs and investment in education, infrastructure and housing, the administration gave us bailouts for banks, record profits for Wall Street and giant budget cuts on the backs of the vulnerable.”

West’s commentary is a breath of fresh air for some who feel they’d be blacklisted in liberal circles for criticizing the president, while others see his remarks as coming from a space of personal bitterness. Regardless of where you stand on West’s opinions, his remarks are always worthy of further inspection.  In an excerpt from his new bookBlack Prophetic Fire, West outlines why he believes Obama has turned his back on the black philosophical traditions that put him in the White House. Here are eight of the most insightful quotes.

1. African Americans Have Done Worse Under Obama

“The great irony of our time is that in the age of Obama the grand black prophetic tradition is weak and feeble. Obama’s black face of the American empire has made it more difficult for black courageous and radical voices to bring critique to bear on the U.S. empire. On the empirical or lived level of black experience, black people have suffered more in this age than in the recent past. Empirical indices of infant mortality rates, mass incarceration rates, mass unemployment and dramatic declines in household wealth reveal this sad reality.”

2. Leadership In The African-American Community Has Weakened

“First, there is the shift of black leadership from the voices of social movements to those of elected officials in the mainstream political system. This shift produces voices that are rarely if ever critical of this system. How could we expect the black caretakers and gatekeepers of the system to be critical of it?”

3. Upward Mobility Is The Worst In The Modern World

“Second, this neoliberal shift produces a culture of raw ambition and instant success that is seductive to most potential leaders and intellectuals, thereby incorporating them into the neoliberal regime. This culture of superficial spectacle and hyper-visible celebrities highlights the legitimacy of an unjust system that prides itself on upward mobility of the downtrodden. Yet, the truth is that we live in a country that has the least upward mobility of any other modern nation!”

4. Leaders Who Challenge the Statue Quo Are Silenced

“Third, the U.S. neoliberal regime contains a vicious repressive apparatus that targets those strong and sacrificial leaders, activists, and prophetic intellectuals who are easily discredited, delegitimated, or even assassinated, including through character assassination. Character assassination becomes systemic and chronic, and it is preferable to literal assassination because dead martyrs tend to command the attention of the sleepwalking masses and thereby elevate the threat to the status quo.”

5. Mass Media Ignores Voices That Take on Issues Such as Use of Drones and War Crimes

“The central role of mass media, especially a corporate media beholden to the U.S. neoliberal regime, is to keep public discourse narrow and deodorized. By ‘narrow’ I mean confining the conversation to conservative Republican and neoliberal Democrats who shut out prophetic voices or radical visions. This fundamental power to define the political terrain and categories attempts to render prophetic voices invisible. The discourse is deodorized because the issues that prophetic voices highlight, such as mass incarceration, wealth inequality, and war crimes such as imperial drones murdering innocent people, are ignored.”

6. Obama Doesn’t Really Care About Protecting Working People

“The state of black America in the age of Obama has been one of desperation, confusion, and capitulation. The desperation is rooted in the escalating suffering on every front. The confusion arises from a conflation of symbol and substance. The capitulation rests on an obsessive need to protect the first black president against all forms of criticism. Black desperation is part of a broader desperation among poor and working people during the age of Obama. The bailout of Wall Street by the Obama administration, rather than the bailout of homeowners, hurt millions of working people.”

7. First Lady Michelle Obama Legitimizes Obama’s “Symbolic Status”

“Needless to say, the presence of his brilliant and charismatic wife, Michelle—a descendent of enslaved and Jim-Crowed people, unlike himself—even more deeply legitimizes his symbolic status, a status that easily substitutes for substantial achievement.”

8. To Be Successful and Black, One Must Turn His Back on the Poor

“To be a highly successful black professional or politician is too often to be well adjusted to injustice and well adapted to indifference toward poor people, including black poor people. The black prophetic tradition is fundamentally committed to the priority of poor and working people, thus pitting it against the neoliberal regime, capitalist system, and imperial policies of the U.S. government.”

Toward the end of the book, West writes how modern black leadership has abandoned the traditions that have helped position it and President Obama. “What does it profit a people for a symbolic figure to gain presidential power if we turn our backs from the suffering of poor and working people, and thereby lose our souls?” he writes. “The black prophetic tradition has tried to redeem the soul of our fragile democratic experiment. Is it redeemable?”

With all that said, I have to disagree with West in two areas. The first is his concept of “Prophetic” leaders. The time is long past for that. The Black Community is no longer powerless under the boot heel of Jim Crow, and group organizations like Color of Change, which find and their strategy and ideas from essentially crowd funding the ideas of the group are far more effective than the Big Man on the podium Dr West so desperately seeks to be. No Big Man – the entire strategy of suppression through attacking an individual become naught.

Second is his use of the term neo-liberal, and assigning it’s anchor to one political group. We are in the post Raygun era of neo-liberal destruction of the country’s basic beliefs and foundations (including the destruction of the Middle Class) – but that neo-liberalism and destruction isn’t being wrought by one party – both are guilty.

And picking on Michelle…

Will get you Pimp Slapped.

I’m putting this one under Giant Negroes.

O’Reilly vs Tavis Smiley and Cornel West

Cornel West and Tavis Smiley have a tete a tete over poverty, Occupy Wall Street, and jobs…

OReilly’s 9% “addiction” number is questionable – when he ties it to poverty.

Lot of rich junkies in this country.

Cornel West Interview By Martin Bashir – “Wall Street Greed”

I am coming to feel that Martin Bashir is by far, MSNBC’s best interviewer. Bashir is on point, is aware of the facts, and is willing to confront bull.

In this clip, Cornel West discusses Obama’s recent discovery of a spine (the verdict is still out on that one), the vast wealth and income disparity that is a legacy of Raygun, and the need for Civil Disobedience to fight back …

Steve Harvey Hammers Cornel West and Tavis Smiley

Things are truly getting hot in here! I was also a former fan of Cornel West, until he turned into a sanctimonious boob. Not quite ready to go as far as Harvey – because some of the criticism leveled at President Obama certainly is legitimate in my view. Plus, there are plenty of Jockey Suited Lawn Ornament types much, much, more deserving of the approbation “Tom”.

Steve Harvey: Cornel West, Tavis Smiley are 'Uncle Toms'Steve Harvey: Cornel West, Tavis Smiley are ‘Uncle Toms’

During his syndicated radio show, comedian Steve Harvey called out Cornel West and Tavis Smiley for their poverty bus tour, while defending President Barack Obama.
After a listener sent an email about the duo’s tour being a hustle, Harvey didn’t shy away for offering his own opinion — accusing West and Smiley for using personal vendettas to damage the Obama’s name.

“I was a huge fan of Cornel West,” he said. “[But] Tavis, I seen him coming a mile away. His anger started when he had a town hall meeting, President Obama couldn’t come because of the campaign trail and he sent Mrs. Obama. He has held that grudge every since.”
The writer and comedian also mocked West for not getting extra tickets to Obama’s inauguration. Harvey said, “Have you ever been invited to the damn inauguration? Did Bush send for you? Did Clinton send for you? Did Reagan send for you?”
Harvey continued his rant by referring to Smiley and West as being affiliated with UTLO.org (which stands out for “Uncle Tom Look Out”).
Harvey mocked the tour by saying, “Make sure you don’t get on the poverty bus… because if you ain’t po’, when you ride the bus, you become po’.”

Cornel West’s Ego

Cornel West has increasingly made himself less and less relevant in his campaign to own the definition of blackness in America. Wish the guy would get back to the sort of intellectual work he did 15 or 20 years ago, before he self-anointed himself the guardian, and gatekeeper of all things black.

West’s tirade is utter bullshit. It’s bullshit because it’s based on his damaged ego, instead of any fair attack o President Obama’s policies.

This one from MSNBC -

This one from the Ed Shultz Show, which includes a counter by Melissa Harris-Perry -

Think it would be amusing to have “Free Black Man” Cornel West and “Real Black Man” Herman Cain in the same room with a no holds barred verbal hoedown.

Blacker than thou… Indeed. I’m putting this one under the category…

Giant Negroes.

Tavis Smiley Asks Minister Farrakhan About Obama

This is a series of clips from Tavis Smiley’s We Count! The Black Agenda is America’s Agenda. Members of the panel for Tavis Smiley Presents ‘We Count!’ The Black Agenda is the American Agenda”,Father Michael Pfleger, Cornel West, Michael Eric Dyson, Tom Burrell, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Michael Fauntroy, Ron Walters, Raven Curling, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Tavis Smiley, Angela Glover Blackwell and Dorothy Wright Tillman.

The full program will be broadcast on C-Span on March 29th.

These are clips on questions to Minister Farrakhan -

Part II is here.

Part III is here.

Excellent discussion by Minister Farrakhan.

Fault Lines – An Interview With Dr. Cornel West

Interesting interview with Cornel West. West outlines his views on a number of issues, including he black community’s relationship with President Obama.  Then he goes off into the Palestine-Israel conflict is nothing more than pandering to Al Jazeera for approval. One would have thought the guy was bright enough to stick to American contextual issues instead of wandering into simple minded Kumbaya with a bunch of folks who really don’t give a damn about much except their hate for each other.

Another in a series of extremely good interviews and in depth reporting by Al Jazeera’s “Fault Line” program. These guys are doing the heavy lifting and intellectual analysis almost totally missing in the American MSM anymore.

more about “Fault Lines – Cornel West“, posted with vodpod
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 145 other followers