Last week’s remarks by Cornel West have some people wondering if he has lost his mind. I respect, admire and have heard West speak on numerous occasions. I admire his scholarly assessment of issues, particularly those affecting the African American community. But, his recent remarks this past week about President Obama were neither scholarly or intelligent although they were quite emotionally provoking. For those who might not have heard West’s comments, West unabashedly personally attacked President Obama on his blackness, saying that he is the “black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats.”
West, a Princeton professor, lecturer and author, has been known to criticize President Obama on the fact that the black community is suffering the most during the Obama administration. And there’s no doubt that the African American community is suffering far greater than other Americans. But, West’s most recent remarks are in the same vein as Donald Trump, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. They do not offer any sound advice, scholarly or substantive suggestions or sound alternatives to the Obama administration’s approach. They are personal in nature because West, like his colleague Tavis Smiley, has no doubt felt a perceived Obama snub.
West’s comments are just pure name calling. And when did we become a nation of name callers, “trash talkers” or birth bashers? Perhaps, that is all Newt, Palin and Trump are capable of; But, I expect far more from an esteemed scholar, like Professor Cornel West. West has the intellectual capacity and platform to offer sound advice to the Obama administration. Yet, instead of taking the high road, or the one less traveled today, he resorts to the Fox News GOP approach.
West’s educational, intellectual background and awareness of African American issues suggest that he is far more capable of helping the African American community by offering his intellectual viewpoints on what is needed to move the country forward. We’ve already had enough of name calling and it has gotten us nowhere. Of course, Cornel West has the “right” to challenge President Obama. Just because he’s within his “rights” does not mean it’s the right thing and the right way to do it. So, I challenge Cornel West to rise above the media hype and join in the critical conversation in a manner that is fitting of his intellect.
I wish that West would offer the advice that he has been known for in his speeches. Perhaps, he has taken the road more traveled today because it’s an easier path to take. Yet, as a black thought leader, West knows his comments will lead to nowhere.
And I could excuse his name calling if he lost his mind. So, that’s why I inquired, has Cornel West lost his mind?
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a lawyer and legal and political commentator who frequently is seen in the media speaking on issues affecting African Americans and women. She also writes for the Huffington Post, Politic 365 and other online publications. She holds a Juris Doctorate from George Washington University Law School and a BA in African American history from the University of PA.