by Eric L. Wattree
In the recent video, “Dr. Boyce: My Two Cents on Michael Eric Dyson,” released on Black Like Moi!, Dr. Boyce Watkins of Syracuse University announced his retirement from the Dr. Cornel West controversies. In the announcement Boyce indicated that “this battle between black scholars was not productive” – a point that I disagree with, by the way.
But even as Watkins was walking away, it was clear that he just didn’t get it. Watkins indicated that the criticism of Cornel West based on his “critique” of President Obama was unfair, and everyone was jumping on West without examining the validity of West’s criticism.
In response, what Watkins is clearly not getting is, the piling on directed at West is his own fault. Contrary to the claims by most of West’s defenders, the outrage directed toward West had nothing to do with his so-called critique of President Obama. On the contrary, West is being criticized because his comments toward Obama wasn’ta disciplined, scholarly critique.
Cornel West is the victim of his own serious miscalculation. He thought that he was going to be greeted with a standing ovation for his courageous willingness to stand up to power. But he made the serious error of engaging in a gross, street-level slander of the first Black President of the United States, and then repeated the offense in his comments toward a high-profile Black female scholar, Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry. That didn’t constitute standing up to power. What it actually was, was an arrogant grandstand play and selfish attempt to manipulate the Black community that seriously backfired.
If West had been a White man who called the president a Black mascot and puppet, and Dr. Harris-Perry a liar and a fraud, we would have called him a virulent racist who was grossly disrespecting the Black community – and in spite of the fact that West is Black, that’s exactly what we did in this case. After all, since Black people are a product of the very same racist environment as White people, many of us are just as racist toward other Blacks as any Hillbilly, and West’s behavior clearly demonstrates that fact.
So again, what brought many of us into the conversation wasn’t just a scholarly critique of President Obama. We were enraged by the hypocrisy and blatant disrespect embedded in what amounted to Cornel West’s racist slander of the first Black President of the United States. Even though West has made a career of telling anyone who will listen, how much he “loves his people.” In fact, West generally prefaces his virulent comments with the hypocritical endearment of “my good brother.” But then he went on to say things that were so disrespectful of President Obama, and later, Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, that they carried the obvious implication that it’s alright to disrespect these people because, after all, beneath their titles, they’re just two more insignificant Pickaninnies.
Thus, it’s my personal opinion that both Tavis Smiley and Cornel West (I mention them both since they seem to be attached at the hip) are two petty, self-serving egomaniacs who specialize in putting their own personal agendas ahead of what’s in the best interest of both the Black community, and the nation.
Clear evidence of that is the fact that they both know full well that the GOP used the Iraq War to ravage the U.S. Treasury in order to justify attacking the entitlement programs put in place by the New Deal. Abolishing the New Deal has been the GOP’s main reason for being for over 70 years now. But the programs that they’d like to abolish – such as Social security, Medicare, and the Fair Labor standards Act – are much too popular among the American people to attack head on. So they purposely tried to bankrupt the nation as a pretext to preclude the funding, and/or, support of these programs. That agenda, along with regaining power, gives the GOP a vested interest in keeping America miserable, angry, and poor. So if Tavis and West were really concerned about the poor, minorities, and middle class, that’s what they’d be ranting about instead of helping the GOP bad- mouth Obama.
They’re out there constantly criticizing Obama in spite of the fact that the GOP is clearly out to destroy the poor, minorities, and middle class in this country. So the obvious question is, if Obama’s so bad, who do they suggest that we vote for, Romney – a man who enjoys firing people, and think of families being put out of their homes as simply collateral damage in the further enrichment of Wall Street? Santorum – Who wants to abolish public education, thinks higher education is snobbish, and wants a government small enough to crawl up a woman’s uterus? Or maybe West thinks we should vote for Gingrich, who wants to fire the heads of households and put their kids to work for slave wages.
So instead of fighting these people and educating the public to their agenda, Tavis and West are going around telling any and everybody who’ll listen that we should be so disenchanted with Obama, who they portray as the Bogeyman, that we should elect the Devil. West did the very same thing when he teamed up with Ralph Nader in the 2000 election and helped get George Bush elected. How did that help either the poor, middle class, or Black community? It didn’t. In fact, it’s the very reason that we’re in the situation that we’re in today, and West is now trying to blame Barack Obama for not correcting fast enough.
But if you bring up that point to the Nader/West supporters, they’ll immediately begin to obfuscate and engage in intellectual gymnastics in an attempt to avoid responsibility for the horrific fate that they brought upon this country. They’ll say things like, “It’s not our fault that Gore lost. He just didn’t fight hard enough for a recount.” But by using such arguments what they’re actually saying is, “Gore just didn’t work hard enough to undo the damage that we’d done.” But the bottom line is this – Gore lost the 2000 election to Bush in Florida by 537 votes, and the Nader/West coalition peeled off 97,488 votes from Gore in Florida alone. So don’t take my word for it – you do the math. And the unbelievable thing is, Cornel West is trying to team up with Nader again, to undermine the people in the current election!
Finally, and before West supporters try to characterize me as an Obama cheerleader, I’d like to point out that just a cursory Google search will show that I’ve written several articles critical of Obama. But when I’m critical of the president, I make it issue-specific, always respectful, and I never lodge a blanket attack against the president’s overall character. Thus, I only have one agenda, and that’s to promote truth, common sense, and logical, independent thinking. And in that regard, I think that it is incumbent upon everyone with common sense to do everything they can to keep the GOP out of office. Because, entrusting our nation and economy to the Republican Party would be like entrusting our children to convicted child molesters.
So in closing, I’d like to say to Dr. Watkins that I am indeed gratified to see him extricate himself from this debate, because while I don’t always agree with him, I’ve always seen him as a sincere advocate of the people. But I’d also like to point out to him how important it is not to confuse the public rant that West lodged against President Obama with a critique. You can’t simply call a person a hypocritic, egomaniacal, lunatic, and call that a critique. In a critique you have to explain why you’re call him a lunatic. Thus, with respect to my good brother, Dr. Cornel West, this, is a critique.
by H. Lewis Smith
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