There is a tug-of-war between the Black Elites and the rest of Black America for the soul of Barack Obama. The issue is most Black folks believe Obama has one. The Elitists like Cornel West don’t think he does. I’ve talked about Princeton professor Cornel West going one from an admirer of the president to one of his most embittered critics.
In an interview West called Obama, “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats. And now he has become head of the American killing machine and is proud of it.”
Sympathy for Osama bin Laden? That’s bad, but West made it worse.
“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. When he meets an independent black brother, it is frightening. And that’s true for a white brother. When you get a white brother who meets a free, independent black man, they got to be mature to really embrace fully what the brother is saying to them. It’s a tension, given the history. It can be overcome. Obama, coming out of Kansas influence, white, loving grandparents, coming out of Hawaii and Indonesia, when he meets these independent black folk who have a history of slavery, Jim Crow, Jane Crow and so on, he is very apprehensive. He has a certain rootlessness, a deracination. It is understandable.”
“He feels most comfortable with upper middle-class white and Jewish men who consider themselves very smart, very savvy and very effective in getting what they want,” he says. “He’s got two homes. He has got his family and whatever challenges go on there, and this other home. Larry Summers blows his mind because he’s so smart. He’s got Establishment connections. He’s embracing me. It is this smartness, this truncated brilliance, that titillates and stimulates brother Barack and makes him feel at home. That is very sad for me,”
West’s amateur psychoanalysis provoked sharp responses from Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart denouncing West as part of the “Blacker than thou” crowd and his slam of Obama making him “no better than a Birther.”
But the epic smack down came from a Princeton colleague, Melissa Harris-Perry, who wrote of West’s remarks, “This comment is 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. And it is hard to see his claim that Obama is “most comfortable with upper middle-class white and Jewish men who consider themselves very smart, very savvy and very effective in getting what they” as anything other than a classic projection of his own comfortably ensconced life at Harvard and Princeton Universities. Harvard and Princeton are not places that are particularly noted for their liberating history for black men.
West is setting himself up as the arbiter of another man’s Blackness and some folks are just as full of spite applauding it like trained seals.
West is rapidly transitioning from being petty to being stupid. Perhaps the most annoying thing about him is how he calls everyone a “dear brother” just before he tries to rip them a new asshole. And West isn’t above being petty. He’s still raw over not getting an invitation to the inauguration.
His questioning of the president’s Blackness got the most attention. But it is his reaction to how he perceives Obama snubbed him during his inauguration that tells you best what playground West is on.
“I used to call my dear brother [Obama] every two weeks. I said a prayer on the phone for him, especially before a debate. And I never got a call back. And when I ran into him in the state Capitol in South Carolina when I was down there campaigning for him he was very kind. The first thing he told me was, ‘Brother West, I feel so bad. I haven’t called you back. You been calling me so much. You been giving me so much love, so much support and what have you.’ And I said, ‘I know you’re busy.’ But then a month and half later I would run into other people on the campaign and he’s calling them all the time. I said, wow, this is kind of strange. He doesn’t have time, even two seconds, to say thank you or I’m glad you’re pulling for me and praying for me, but he’s calling these other people. I said, this is very interesting. And then as it turns out with the inauguration I couldn’t get a ticket with my mother and my brother. I said this is very strange. We drive into the hotel and the guy who picks up my bags from the hotel has a ticket to the inauguration. My mom says, ‘That’s something that this dear brother can get a ticket and you can’t get one, honey, all the work you did for him from Iowa.’ Beginning in Iowa to Ohio. We had to watch the thing in the hotel.
“What it said to me on a personal level,” he goes on, “was that brother Barack Obama had no sense of gratitude, no sense of loyalty, no sense of even courtesy, [no] sense of decency, just to say thank you. Is this the kind of manipulative, Machiavellian orientation we ought to get used to? That was on a personal level.”
What that says to ME is Cornel West has a sense of entitlement a mile wide, an over-sized (and easily bruised) ego a mountain high and a personal shallowness that is a mud puddle deep.
There’s nothing remotely “intellectual” about such petulant, infantile whining. West is acting like a spurned lover mad because Obama hasn’t called him on Friday night, not like a critically thinking intellectual..
Somehow the professional crybabies like West and his booty boy, Tavis “Subprime” Smiley and their amen corner think Obama can propose a jobs program or an education program or a free bucket of chicken program that benefits ONLY Black folks. Yeah, let’s see how long it takes Faux News to lose their minds over that. Then let’s see how fast John Boehner and the rest of the Republican controlled House (where ever dime of the federal budget comes from) bust their humps to help Obama galvanize the Black vote for 2012.
You can climb up to the top of the Empire State Building, jump off singing “I Believe I Can Fly” and the last thought that goes through your brain before its turned into mushy street pizza along with the rest of your dumb ass will be, “Damn, I Believe I CAN’T Fly.”
Gravity doesn’t care what lie you tell yourself. Gravity always wins. Well, the same principle applies to politics. Politics doesn’t care what West or Smiley and their amen corner wants. Politics only cares what is possible and it is IMPOSSIBLE for this president or any of his 43 predecessors to push through legislation for a job program that ONLY benefits 12 percent of the population.
West and Smiley can jump off the Empire State Building if they want to. I hope there’s enough of their amen corner looking up to break their fall when they come crashing down.
This is not a conversation most people enjoy having and conversations people don’t enjoy having are precisely the kind true intellectuals should compel us to hold. But not the way West did running from one White man (Chris Hedges) to another (Ed Schultz) to denounce Obama as not being authentically Black enough. That’s NOT his call to make and he damn sure doesn’t need to be pandering to White liberals who enjoy watching the Negroes play “crabs in a barrel.”
I’m sorry, Dear Brother West, but you’re thinking emotionally, not strategically. Starting this kind of drama does nothing but get people irate. It sure won’t nudge them around to the perspective you’d like them to get to.
Maybe it’s time for Dear Brother West to bust out the Afro. It seems to be cutting off the fresh air circulating to his brain.