Cornel “the Crab” West Pulls Barack Back in the Barrel.

Hey, Barack, where's my invitation?

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.

Princeton vs. Princeton: Let's get ready to rumble!

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.

Anybody see Cornel West's Afro in this barrel?

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.

"How come you don't call me anymore, Barack?"

7 thoughts on “Cornel “the Crab” West Pulls Barack Back in the Barrel.

  1. Jeff,

    I love your site but I do have one problem with your analysis of Dr. West and his supporters. I had a problem with Dr. West’s petty complaint about not receiving a ticket too. But once you get past the pettiness, he made some good points whether you agree or not and the fair. I didn’t agree with everything my parents did and I love them! Why, and I’ll use a play on your phrase, are you in the Obama amen corner attempting to shut down any dissent on the President? This may not be your intention, but that’s the way it looks to a lot of us. I have a lot of problems with Obama, but I’m also wise enough to realize that just electing a Black man to the presidency wouldn’t solve all of our problems, that’s silly. My question to you in your amen corner is this: why aren’t Black allowed to lobby for what we want just as other groups do? And if I recall, Obama himself told us to make him do the things we want. We won’t get everything, our nation’s far too diverse for one group to get everything it wants, but we shouldn’t stop fighting for it. Personally I have reservations about supporting the President again and it has nothing to do with “Black,” issues. I have a problem with the President and his justice department’s refusal to investigate anyone in the previous administration for the crimes it committed. I’m not willing to forget and forgive. As you guys in the Obama amen corner keep stating, he’s the president of all America and for some of us, the rule of law is important. I have other problems with his administration, but this is one of the biggest.


    • David, I’m afraid the good and valid points West makes are trampled underfoot by his scathing and puerile comments questioning President Obama’s Blackness. That is detestable and if West is as religious as he puts on airs that he is, he should immediately apologize to his “dear brother” for his
      contemptuous remarks.

      Don’t confuse defending the president with 100 percent down-for-the-program. Obama is my president and I support him, but has he disappointed me? HELL TO THE YEAH. But when you give me a choice between agreeing West is correct in some of his criticisms and co-signing his attack on Obama as a Black man, this is where I get off. That’s not criticism of the president, that’s trying to punk him and West is an arrogant fool for stooping so low.


      • Black Agenda= American Agenda given the contempt Obama recieved from Israel’s president( He punked him but I hear nothing from people like Winbush) West was right on the money about Obama’s inner circle ..

        The logic of people like Winbush is silly apparently if you insult Obama Israel’s president that level of arrogance is fine but when a Black man like West’s levels foundational talking points we get petty attacks from people like WInbush and others in Obama’s peanut choir..


      • Nonsense in the Black community we have always checked the Blackness of cops, public officials, Black folks down at the plant or Black folks working in white venues to see if they were ‘down’ or with the hood…Black authenticity checks have been a cultural utility every since the first uncle tom fucked us..

        Of late in the chatter class it is fashionable to abandon Black cultural adapations and legacy tools just to be noble and pc..

        West’s talking points create a presidency that values the future of Black America beyond the arc of Obama’s tenure


  2. Why is it that we can’t have any nuanced thought when it comes to President Obama? I’m really tired of having to choose between hating the man and being part of a so-called “amen corner” that prohibits any criticism.

    Are there things that President Obama has done that piss me off to the utmost? Yes. We have a former Constitutional Law professor who’s signing off on FISA warrants and the USA Patriot Act. That kinda makes me wanna kick him in the nuts. And don’t even get me started on the whole “When are you going to bitch slap Harry Reid for being such a punk when it came to Health Care Reform and just about everything else you’ve tried to do?” thing.

    But I also understand that the minute he proposes a program that benefits black folks and black folks alone will also be the minute that The Man In Orange and the Tea Party folks he’s sold his soul to to be Speaker of the House begin The Impeachment of Barack Obama.

    See, here’s the thing. Most of the folks who have spent the last three years saying “Barack Obama ain’t done nothing for me” have forgotten that the Executive Branch is only one of the three branches that make up our government and it’s not even the most powerful branch. The most powerful branch, the one that folks have the most contact with, is the legislative one. If you elect a president to do what you want, and you don’t stay up the ass of the legislature to make sure they carry it out, you get the mess we have today. If you don’t make people do what you want them to do while you continue to send them back to Congress, you get what you deserve.

    But whenever you tell folks that, the first thing out of their mouths is “You’re one of those Obama supporters who doesn’t think you should criticize him!” when what I’m actually saying is that there’s more than enough criticism to go around…


  3. Point taken, but my problem with our community is if you offer any criticism of the President you’re seen as a race traitor or worse. Dr. West should apologize for his dumb “I’m blacker than you comments,” for sure. But for those of us who have legitimate complaints with the President, you shouldn’t be shouted down as “hatin’ on the Prez.”

    I’m not hating on him, I’m pointing out things I consider to be flaws within his administration, but if that is considered hating, then I guess I am. So be it. Neither of you have to agree with me and that’s fair; but by the same token if I don’t feel the love, let’s say, why should give you my vote? You’re not entitled to it, it’s mine, you have to earn it.

    Again I know he’s the president of the entire country, but conversely no one can take my vote for granted either, I vote my interests the same as everyone else does.Other groups lobby for what they want, why should the black community be any different? If we can’t get something concrete, what’s the point of this monolithic support?

    I won’t vote for the lunatic fringe that we call Republicans , but neither am I willing to support a party or President I feel isn’t looking out for me. I can either vote third party or stay home and there are a lot of everyday working people who feel the same. Your calling us an amen corner for Dr. West is no better than me degrading Obama supports as Obambots.

    Finally, I don’t confuse your defending the Prez when you feel he’s being attacked unfairly, because I will do the same. But I wish a lot of the piling on that has been directed Dr. West’s way would be organized to put some pressure on our elected leaders to include the President to begin working on the needs of the many instead of the needs of the few. I’m tired of the speechs, those won’t sway me anymore.

    We may not agree but we should at least be willing to engage in a dialogue and see where we can compromise for the good of all. But from my perspective all I’m seeing is the same old same old and if that’s the best there is, well I for one won’t play that game.


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