Wattree's picture

    Is the Attack on Prof. Melissa Harris-Perry’s Article Criticizing Prof. Cornel West Due to Male Academic Cronyism?

    Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree

    It is a curious yet instructive phenomenon watching Black male academics rush to the defense of Dr. Cornel West after he called President Obama a “Black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs.” They also stood by when West went on to say that “Obama has a certain fear of free black men.” They said that it was perfectly legitimate for West to comment on the political environment as he saw it. But when Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, West’s female colleague, indicated that West’s comment “smacks of birtherism,” they recoiled in shocked horror. How dare she publicly attack her colleague in that manner? They accused her of being motivated by either sour grapes or professional envy.  Hmmm, ok. But tell me, what makes Cornel West more sacrosanct than the President of the United States?

    The fact is, anyone who considers West’s remarks toward President Obama merely an objective and scholarly critique of the political environment needs to go back and take a refresher course in both freshman English and forensics. The comments directed at President Obama by Cornel West was nothing short of a racist and petty personal tirade by a woefully presumptuous and undisciplined mind.

    His comments were not only less than constructive and nonspecific, but they were also saturated with unsubstantiated personal attacks against the president. They were, indeed, Palinesque in both nature and intent. Thus, his behavior was both unprofessional and disrespectful to not only President Obama, but the office of the president itself. Then when you take into account that there is ample evidence that he was motivated by what he, in his own words, considered a personal slight, then combined that with his close association with Tavis Smiley - who is also smarting from what he considered a personal slight by the president - it is more than reasonable to view West’s behavior as the irate petulance of an embittered egomaniac.
    On the other hand, Prof. Perry couldn’t avoid attacking West’s character, because it was his character that was at issue. So the fact is, Prof. Perry’s criticism of West was the more legitimate. Considering West's behavior, Prof. Perry's remarks constituted a detached and clinical assessment of the facts.  Her position was reasoned, specific, and substantiated with undeniable facts, while West’s criticism of Obama was reckless, overly broad, and filled with gross and unsubstantiated generalizations.
    Yet, in his article, Melissa Harris-Perry’s Attacks on Cornel West: Melissa, Are You Hiding Something?, Dr. Boyce Watkins says,
    “One of the interesting things about all the criticism being thrust at Professor West is that much of it presumes that Cornel is attacking President Obama for personal reasons. There are rumors that he is angry that he was never invited to the inauguration, or that he felt dismissed because the administration won’t return his phone calls. There is no end to the reasons that people are coming up with to explain why Professor West has done what he’s always done, which is to advocate for black, brown, poor and working class people.”
    But the “rumors” that Dr. Watkins speak of are not rumors at all. West is quoted as saying the following:
    “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.”
    And further, I don’t see how the fact that Prof. Perry worked down the hall from West at Princeton has any bearing on this matter. If Dr. Watkins is suggesting that she had an ulterior motive, what evidence does he present to support that claim? Absolutely none. That makes it clear that Watkins is stretching for an equivalence that’s just not there. On the one hand, Prof. Perry presents direct evidence from the mouth of West himself that clearly substantiates her position that West felt slighted by the president, which ultimately led to his reckless behavior. While on the other hand, Dr. Watkins doesn’t present a shred of evidence leading to the conclusion that Prof. Perry had an ulterior motive for her criticism of Dr. West. The only thing he presents is gross speculation and vapors.
    I’m not surprised at all that Dr. West has engaged in such reckless behavior. His fixation on personal affectations suggests the vanity of an undisciplined mind. And apparently I’m not alone. Syndicated columnist Stanley Crouch pointed out in the “Daily News that “serious black intellectuals privately dismissed West many years ago as no more than an academic loudmouth with a good show business game.”
    But with respect to Dr. Boyce Watkins, I am indeed shocked to see a respected scholar engage in such sloppy thinking. His article suggests the following syllogism: All dogs have fleas. My cat has fleas. Therefore, my cat is a dog. What kind of logic is that?
    Thus, at the risk of being presumptuous, I’d like to pass on to both of these gentlemen a piece of advice that was given to me by the very demure Ms. Immel in my freshman English class many years ago, and I quote: “Eric, if you expect to survive this class, every time you make an assertion, I expect you to start backing it up with compelling facts in the very next sentence, or no later than the following paragraph.”
    That advice has served me well over the years, and it seems to me that you might benefit from it as well.
    Eric L. Wattree
    [email protected]
    Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)
    Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.


    Thanks for posting this. Boyce Watkins should be ashamed. Watkins attacks the character of Harris-Perry in the same fashion that West attacked Obama's character. He suggests tha tension beyween West and Harris-Perry at Princeton. My response, welcome to academia. Nothing Boyce Watkins suggests is different than an everyday occurrence in the university even if true.

    The White House sent Donna Brazile to try to smooth the waters with Prof West last month. West refused the White House's invitation for a meeting.


    They should just ignore him, Rm.

    West is getting a lot of flack for what he's done, and since he specializes in telling the people what they want to hear, I predict that he's going to strat backtracking in the very near future. He's either going to claim that he was misunderstood, like Newt Gingrich, or he's going to find something to compliment Obama on, so it will look like he's simply an objective observer - nothing personal, you understand.


    West is a poor man's version of Donald Trump, and he's going to suffer the very same fate. How can he rant about oligarchs and plutocrats while at the same time attached at the hip to Tavis smiley, the biggest corporate shill in the Black community. Tavis went all over the country on a "Nationwide is on your side" tour. In addition, Tavis was waging a Walmart lobbying campaign in Inglewood, Ca. Does anyone believe that either Walmart or Nationwide Insurance Corp. is on the side of the Black Community? give me a break!

    I've been around along to be completely fed up with demagogues - and especially when they're Black and their demagogueing the Black community? Don't we have enough problems?

    I'm not one of those Obama cheerleaders who are opposed to anyone saying anything negative about him. I've written several critical articles on him myself (I haven't Totally Given Up on Obama, but Like My Late Wife Used to Say, He's Getting on My Last Nerve). I reserve the right to criticize him just like I would any White president. But when I do criticize him, I make sure I criticize specific policies, and not his entire presidency. So it's not that I resent Cornel West criticizing Obama, what I resent, however, is his motives for criticizing him, and the way he's gone about it.

    He reminds me of this former blues singer turned preacher who sold away the rights to his hit records then tried to wrap himself in God to try to get JZ to pay him for their use. Instead of going out and getting himself an attorney if he thought he'd been wronged, he was trying to contend that the use of his music was an assault on Jesus - unless he got a cut of the profits, of course.

    Essentially, Cornel West is doing the same thing. He's wrapping himself in the so-called interest of the Black community in order to promote his own interest. If Obama had embraced him after he won the election West would be his biggest supporter. So he's engaged in pure hypocrisy, and I hate it.

    Obama Initiatives

    - Spur Job Creation: "In addition, to help those most affected by the recession, the Budget will extend emergency assistance to seniors and families with children, Unemployment Insurance benefits, COBRA tax credits, and relief to states and localities to prevent layoffs."

    - Reforming the Job Training System: "The Budget calls for reform of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which supports almost 3,000 One-Stop Career Centers nationwide and a range of other services. With $6 billion for WIA at DOL—and an additional $4 billion in the Department of Education—the Budget calls for reforms to improve WIA." Strengthen Anti-Discrimination Enforcement: "To strengthen civil rights enforcement against racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, religious, and gender discrimination, the Budget includes an 11 percent increase in funding to the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. This investment will help the Division handle implementation of a historic new hate crimes law. The Budget also provides an $18 million, or 5 percent increase, for the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), which is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee. This increased investment will allow for more staff to reduce the backlog of private sector charges."

    - Support Historically Black Colleges and Universities: "The Budget proposes $642 million, an increase of $30 million over the 2010 level, to support Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), including Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In addition to this discretionary funding increase for MSIs, the Administration supports legislation passed by the House of Representatives and pending in the Senate that would provide $2.55 billion in mandatory funding to MSIs over 10 years."

    - Help Families Struggling with Child Care Costs: "The Budget will nearly double the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit for middle-class families making under $85,000 a year by increasing their credit rate from 20 percent to 35 percent of child care expenses. Nearly all eligible families making under $115,000 a year would see a larger credit. The Budget also provides critical support for young children and their families by building on historic increases provided in ARRA. The Budget provides an additional $989 million for Head Start and Early Head Start to continue to serve 64,000 additional children and families funded in ARRA."

    - Reform Elementary and Secondary School Funding: "The Budget supports the Administration’s new vision for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) … The Budget provides a $3 billion increase in funding for K-12 education programs authorized in the ESEA, including $900 million for School Turnaround Grants, and the Administration will request up to $1 billion in additional funding if Congress successfully completes ESEA reauthorization."

    - Increase Pell Grants: "The Recovery Act and 2009 appropriations bill increased the maximum Pell Grant by more than $600 for a total award of $5,350. The Budget proposes to make that increase permanent and put them on a path to grow faster than inflation every year, increasing the maximum grant by $1,000, expanding eligibility, and nearly doubling the total amount of Pell grants since the President took office."

    - Help Relieve Student Loan Debt: "To help graduates overburdened with student loan debt, the Administration will strengthen income-based repayment plans for student loans by reducing monthly payments and shortening the repayment period so that overburdened borrowers will pay only 10 percent of their discretionary income in loan repayments and can have their remaining debt forgiven after 20 years. Those in public service careers will have their debt forgiven after 10 years. The Budget also expands low-cost Perkins student loans."

    - Prevent Hunger and Improve Nutrition: "The President’s Budget provides $8.1 billion for discretionary nutrition program supports, which is a $400 million increase over the 2010 enacted level. Funding supports 10 million participants in the WIC program, which is critical to the health of pregnant women, new mothers, and their infants. The Budget also supports a strong Child Nutrition and WIC reauthorization package that will ensure that school children have access to healthy meals and to help fulfill the President’s pledge to end childhood hunger. The President continues to support the nutrition provisions incorporated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)."

    - Revitalize Distressed Urban Neighborhoods: "The Budget includes $250 million for HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods program, which will target neighborhoods anchored by distressed public or assisted housing with physical and social revitalization grounded in promising, measurable, and evidence-based strategies."

    - Increase Funding for the Housing Choice Voucher Program: "The President’s Budget requests $19.6 billion for the Housing Choice Voucher program to help more than two million extremely low income families with rental assistance to live in decent housing in neighborhoods of their choice. The Budget continues funding for all existing mainstream vouchers and provides flexibility to support new vouchers that were leased and $85 million in special purpose vouchers for homeless families with children, families at risk of homelessness, and persons with disabilities."

    - Preserve 1.3 Million Affordable Rental Units through Project-Based Rental Assistance Program: "The President’s Budget provides $9.4 billion for the Project-Based Rental Assistance program to preserve approximately 1.3 million affordable rental units through increased funding for contracts with private owners of multifamily properties. This critical investment will help low-income households to obtain or retain decent, safe and sanitary housing. In addition, the Administration requests $350 million to fund the first phase of this multi-year initiative to regionalize the Housing Choice Voucher program and convert Public Housing to project-based vouchers."

    - Promote Affordable Homeownership and Protect Families from Mortgage Fraud: "The Budget requests $88 million for HUD to support homeownership and foreclosure prevention through Housing Counseling and $20 million to combat mortgage fraud. In addition, the Budget requests $250 million for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation’s (NRC) grant and training programs. Of the $250 million, $113 million is requested for foreclosure prevention activities, a $48 million increase (74 percent) over 2010."

    - Fight Gang Violence and Violent Crime: "The Budget provides $112 million for place-based, evidence supported, initiatives to combat violence in local communities, including $25 million for the Community-Based Violence Prevention Initiatives that aim to reduce gun and other violence among youth gangs in cities and towns across the country, and $37 million for the Attorney General’s Children Exposed to Violence Initiative, which targets the youth most affected by violence and most susceptible to propagating it as they grow up."

    - Expand Prisoner Re-entry Programs: "The Budget provides $144 million for Department Justice prisoner re-entry programs, including an additional $100 million for the Office of Justice Programs to administer grant programs authorized by the Second Chance Act and $30 million for residential substance abuse treatment programs in State and local prisons and jails. In addition, the Budget provides $98 million for Department of Labor programs that provide employment-centered services to adult and youth ex-offenders and at-risk youth.."

    - Fully Fund the Community Development Block Grant Program: "The Budget provides $4.4 billion for the Community Development Fund, including $3.99 billion for the Community Development Block Grant Formula Program (CDBG), and $150 million for the creation of a Catalytic Investment Competition Grants program. The new Catalytic Competition Grants program uses the authorities of CDBG, but will provide capital to bring innovative economic development projects to scale to make a measurable impact."

    Thanks for this. 

    Sorry about being involved in the distraction on your blog.

    I think tht West may provide African-Americans with a framework on how to disagree with Obama. There is the danger of playing into the hands of the wingnuts, but I think that has been blunted by The wingnut attack on unions, women's rights and Medicare. The GOP has damaged it's image in much of the country. Everyone expecs a nutty attack on Obama from the wingnuts.

    The death of Osama and the coninued failed stte in Afghanistan can provide the basis for getting the heck of that country. Obama had enough guts to say out load what was a known fact about Palestine and Israel, a two-state solution is the only way to solve the problem. When he came before the Senate, Bibi mimicked Obama's words about the two-state option. Bibi also praised Obama during the Senate speech.

    Personally , I think that the econmy is making a sluggish recovery, so more job should return. For the Black community the foreclosure issue is one that neds more attention from my POV. The DOJ batting down the GOP voter suppression program is important since wingnut Governors are in charge in many states.

    Local action is going to be required for breaking up the prison industrial complex and ture education reform. It cannot be argued that Obama did nothing or that Obama is no different than Bush. But African-Americans can make their demands just like everyone else.


    There has always been a great deal of dissension on the left between the rank and file - IE - while collar, blue collar and business - and academia. Most especially during the Vietnam war where the rank and file were staunch supporters and academia being vehemently against it.

    Though I will admit the a large portion of the youth who were against the war were simply trying to keep their sorry asses from being shot off. And after the war either left, the left entirely or joined the rank and file. Blues suits and all.

    There are people in blue business suits who support environmental issues, women's rights, unions and a host of other issues. The business suit does not make the person, just as we are learning that one can be a Socialist and a misogynist if not a full blown rapist.

    Thank you.

    Yeah, cmaukonen,

    They were only following in the footsteps of Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, George W. Bush, etc., etc, etc.

    There are a lot of Elite Wannabes on the left as well as the right. The difference being that on the left they feel guilty about it and on the right they are damn proud of it.

    So the left tries to make a big show of being for the Little Guy while making damn sure there are no barriers to themselves becoming part of the elites.

    "So the left tries to make a big show of being for the Little Guy while making damn sure there are no barriers to themselves becoming part of the elites."

    No.  The "left" (whoever the hell you mean that to be - it's almost impossible to tell from your rantings on the topic) generally supports policies that advance the interests of the little guy.  In case you haven't noticed, an awful lot of those little guys either vote Republican or don't vote at all.

    And the left as I define it doesn't just make damn sure there are no barriers to themselves becoming part of the elites.  They try to make sure there are no barriers to anyone becoming part of the elite.

    But go ahead with the purity testing.  Pretty soon, you'll have a movement consisting of you, Cornell West, and a dead folk singer.  And will, I presume, keep blaming some shadowy cabal of "elites" for your complete and utter irrelevance.    

    This is moving away from the point of Wattree's post, but one does not have to take a vow of poverty to be a moral person. Poverty does not make one moral either.

    In Baltimore a decision has been made to make a downtown drugstore called Read's a historic landmark. The reason that the store is a landmark is that it allowed African-American customers to sit at the lunch counter in the late 1950s early 1960s. This was historic for downtown Baltimore at the time.. Some white guys in blue business suits did the right thing. The resolution to keep the store as a landmark is a tribute to the African-American customers who pushed for the change and to the store managers. I suspect that the African-American customers wore blue suits to sit at the counter.

    None of the above, means that Cornel West is not being a jerk in his personalized critique of Obama.

    Sorry, but I'm gonna have to steal that analysis, C.  I hope you don't mind.

    Be my guest. Just give credit (or blame which ever the case maybe) where it's due.

    Then when you take into account that there is ample evidence that he was motivated by what he, in his own words, considered a personal slight, then combined that with his close association with Tavis Smiley - who is also smarting from what he considered a personal slight by the president - it is more than reasonable to view West’s behavior as the irate petulance of an embittered egomaniac.

    You know this entire matter reminded me of when Newt became so pissed off when he had to sit in the back of Air Force 1.

    I just figured that the President refused to take the guy's call or something!


    I came very close to using that analogy, but I figured that a lot of the college crowd, who I was actually writing this for, wouldn't know what I was referring to. But great minds do think alike, don't they?

    I know it came out petty sounding, but I took it to mean more, "we get out and support and organize, and we're left waiting outside the tent", rather than so worried about himself personally.

    Applies to progressives as well - despite Obama using the leftover Dean enthusiasm and progressives being essential to GOTV for Democrats, we get folks like Brew obsessing that progressives never get anything done. Folks like Olympia Snowe and John Boehner and Joe Lieberman get much more face time with the pres than people who supported him.

    Snowe and Liberman was in/ are in positions to effect critical votes given the makeup of the Senate, so they had to be courted. Boehner is the opposition leader. Despite the fact that West claims Obama got nothing done, there was more money allocated for HBCU's, the Black farmers got the money owed to them by USDA for over 20 years, and poor children got better health coverage. Jobs are slowly recovering, and the up-tick will continue if the Mississippi flooding doesn't impact hiring severely.

    On the other hand you may not have noticed, but the GOP is actively working to keep poor people and ethnic minorities from voting.

    Made me think back of (and go to YouTube to listen to) The Mothers of Invention YOU DIDN'T TRY TO CALL ME.  Yes.  That adolescent. 

    Personally, I think this whole debate is just unveiling the nastiness and pettiness of a whole range of people. So Eric... I'd advise stepping back, rather than stepping in to try and argue that this one is clean, and the other one is dirty.

    Come on folks, Boyce Watkins is not just saying that Harris-Perry and West have had a relationship that went bad, but... perhaps... that it went slightly beyond the norm, and may have been a bit closer than it should.

    He signals it right upfront with terms such as "firestorm like no other" that play off of "woman scorned"... 

    Goes on to basically make her into a Glenn Close stalker, saying "a person goes out of their way to strategically, systemically and obsessively target a colleague that they worked with every day for a number of years, one has to wonder what sour intentions lie behind the motivations of the attacker."

    Just read the article in that light, and I think you can see this thing has gone from getting down in the mud to straight-ahead shitt-flinging. "Harris-Perry’s relationship with West was much deeper, meaningful and complex than the relationship between Professor West and President Obama, and we all know that familiarity can certainly breed contempt." 

    And, "Melissa is showing that she wants to see this man destroyed."

    And the conclusion, "we must remember that the critics, themselves are not immune from the sweet temptation of revenge."

    At this point, we've gone from someone being critical of the President for personal and political grounds, to criticizing that critic, to criticizing that critic's critics.... and now, to blogging on the critic's critics critics.... 

    I'd suggest we all stop before we have to start asking about people's private parts.

    Sounds to me like you're criticizing the criticism of the critic's critic's critic. Which I really think is wrong. But how do I say that without becoming the ...

    oh. no. can't. stop. the. iterations.

    ...GAH! MY BRAIN!!

    ...HAGH! MY PINKY!!

    I tried to warn them. 

    iteration of iteration deleted

    I'll take "People's Private Parts" for $200 please.

    Harris-Perry's essential points are no different than that of male critics of West. The male crtics point to the West-Smiley relationship.

    Steeeeeeeeeeee-rike One!

    You're predictable and inaccurate


    Blind Umpire

    Steeeeeeeeeeee-rike Two!


    You're reading some way, way out unwarranted assumptions into this.  I spoke to Dr. Watkins on this today, and he was basing him comment on the fact that Dr. Perry didn't get a promotion that she was seeking, and Dr. Boyce speculated that she might have gotten it if Dr. West had supported her. But even that is unwarranted speculation, because, unlike West, Perry has never mentioned having any feelings whatsoever regarding the incident, so even that was an unsubstantiated assumption. But your comment is very telling. It shows just how fast people will take an issue, project their own prejudices into it, and run with it.  A woman scorned?  Please!  I hate to say this Quinn, but that is a grossly sexist comment, and it takes unsubstantiated assumptions to a new level.  

    You're reading wrong; read again.

    Try this. Insert the names Krugman and Summers in place of the two combatants listed in the original, and see how it reads. Try out lines like "Paul" wanting to "destroy" that man, etc. At which point, you'll recognize that the ORIGINAL piece is sexist. As for me being sexist... I'm just gonna say, you have a pleasant day.

    Sounds like folks need to learn a little selflessness. People do, but shouldn't, work for a candidate with the expectation of payback. The payback is that your guy got elected.

    I would echo Quinn's and Obey's advice to Eric to step back and away from the quicksand of infinite regressions.

    Put another way, it's all a bunch of insider gossip that has nothing to do with the country or its people.


    I don't mind stepping in a little quicksand.  That's what I do.  I don't have a dog in the fight.  I look at the world like I'm watching an ant farm.  And in this case, I think that Dr. Perry's comments represented a completely accurate assessment of the facts.

    Quinn, at the risk of getting a strike called on me from the umpire, I have a question: why is it that virtually every source put up either in defense (or more often) smackdown of Cornell West's interview, they are always by balck people? 

    Now I guess I don't think West belongs to blacks, or the black intelligentia, any more than he does to the rest of us.  What's up with this picture?

    I've got a velvet velour of Elvis if you prefer.

    Nice dodge, Decidulicious.  West essentially belongs to me as much as anyone of color, no?  He speaks for me in so many ways, and is one of the few 'men of the cloth' I admire (sorry to seem irreverent, but...so it goes) along with Desmond Tutu.

    So put your Velvet Elvis in your pipe and smoke it, with all due respect. 

    And please note for all who claim some of us do: I DO NOT WORSHIP AT THE ALTER OF CORNEL WEST; but I sure have loved his ideology over the years.  And i hate that his critique was lost among his crap personal....crap.  It's decidedly an outlier, as far as I'm concerned. 

    And Obey: I take it back; it's not for me to say that I think he should offer up an apology, though I hope he does.  Who out in the world is left to speak of love and forgiveness, which has been his credo for years. 

    And Smiley?  Yeah; it's a bit hypocritical that he doesn't smack down his corporate ties, but most WHITE iconic heroes have them, too.  Or are subsidized by them.

    Sorry. You can't take it back.

    I already sold it on Ebay yesterday. Fox bought it, copyrighted it, and now holds the movie option rights and have Aaron Sorkin working on the script.

    Gotta keep up babe! World moves fast...

    "And i hate that his critique was lost among his crap personal....crap."

    Well, to be fair, his "critique" is, well, crap, too.


    Dear bother Cornel West made the discussion about race

    “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."

    Dr Boyce Watkins doubled down in his attack on Sister Harris-Perry

    The meal is being fed, in part, by elitist liberals like Melissa Harris Perry at Princeton University, a darker-skinned staple in the white liberal establishment and fully-indoctrinated member in the Barack Obama fan club

    Joan Walsh, Andrew Sullivan and Andrew Serwer (who is biracial) have criticized Prof West. No one is stealing West from Whites or Asians or Hispanics.

    Black critics responded because an issue of blackness was being attacked. Are you suggesting that by quoting Black critics of West, Whites are being pushed aside in the discussion? Why would it matter if all the criticism was from Blacks? Would an all-Black critique mean that Whites could not argue the merits or demerits of the points the Black critics were making? Why is the race of the critics being cited so important? Do you want t set up a quota?

    The blind umpire will now give his ball/strike call after his dog barks.

    He made the part about Obama about race, but NOT the issues of disregarding the poor and disenfranchised, and the bank/corporate obeisance of this administration.  Nope; I'm saying that almost all the links you all have put up reference black commentar, which I think might indicate some sort of conventional racial divide.  The joan walsh, et.al.'s blogs you mention reference Harris-Perry, Server, Crouch-the-professional-iconoclast) and the other members of the black intelligentia.  I think.  Suzie Madrak is the onlu white woman who has taken a stand on her own that I've noticed.

    Your (god, I hate this term!) strawman about quotas is such bullshit I'm agog.

    West begins with the mention of race. He attacks Obama's blackness. African-Americans notiice this and respond. Whites liberals respond and refer to prior responses by Blacks who just happened to be the "first responders" so to speak. I don't see anything unusual in that sequence of events. I am really not familiar with Suzie Madrak, but you were free to post her point of view by posting a link.


    Ms Madrack refers to the opinions of Eddie Glaude, Melissa Harris-Perry and Imani Perry (no relation to Harris-Perry). All the people she refers to are African-American. Eddie Glaude and Imani Perry are both supporters of Cornel West's attack on Obama's political position. I do not get the sense that the men support West's character attack.

    Ms Madrack suggests that her African-American callers would also agree with Cornel West. It is said that her callers are Black working class people who feel conflicted in criticizing the fist African-American President. Al sharpton might give a different sense of the feelings of the working class people he encounters. Perhaps polling data, as flawed as it may be will give us insight into what Black working class people feel.

    We all use different sources from information. If you find one that you feel supports your position and is a valid source, it's up to you to provide the link. I don't sgree with Ms Madrack, but I linked to her anyway.

    Madrak wasn't who I was thinking of then.  My point was, the way people chose to cite their references were along color lines.  That kinda makes my head hurt all over again, especially my perception that whites felt they had to use opinions of black people as touchstones.  Dunno about first responders and all that, really.  I actually thought it was a good question; apparently not.

    This post is about Black African-American university professors like Eddie Glaude nd Boyce Watkins supporting Cornel West. They are all African-Americans criticizing the first African-American President, Barack Obama. Watkins attacks the character of Melissa Harris-Perry just like Cornel West attacked the character of Barack Obama. Blacks criticizing Blacks and you see a racial dividde. Yes. it's  an intra-racial divide.

    Andrew Sullivan gives Cornel West an award for absurdity without mentioning hw Black people feel. Sullivan isn't White enough for you. Joan Walsh criticizes Cornel West, but she's not White enough because she mentions Black critics. You mention Suzie Madrak as the only independent White voice out there. You're upset because this ONE white voice is overshadowed by other White folks who criticize Cornel West and also overshadowed by Black critics of West. You note that critics are referring to criticisms of West from Blacks as was done in Ms. Walsh's case. Madrak mentions the Black critics but since Madrak agrees with you and supports West, she's an independent voice.

    West has Black critics and Black supporters. You emphasize a racial divide. I don't know how White people would poll on Cornel West's criticism, do you?  I also noted that I wasn't sure how "working class" Black people would poll on the issue, do you? I would suspect both groups would think the character attack on Obama was out of line, but I can't document that feeling.

    You bring Suzie Madrak into the discussion as an independent voice then you post that you weren't thinking about Madrak. ........and then you say YOUR head hurts.Think about mine.

    I'm reaching for a triptan for my migraine.

    I'll leave the field.  I was not thinking of this post specifically, but the issue generally.  My point, once again, since I have not stated it well, was to ask if this is not a black issue, but a people issue, since West speaks for others than just blacks.  I was trying to ask if it's not problematic that anglos find it necessary to quote blacks on the issue, rather than just offering their own criticisms.

    And I DO think most Americans would see his interview with Hedges very negatively, but especially if they hadn't ever read or heard decades of Cornell.  So: NOT the racial divide over the comments, but the racial divide over anglos/whites feeling compelled to cite black opinion as ballast.

    I think we won;t get anywhere on this, s gain, I'll say my question was a fail, and depart.  Thanks for responding in the only way you know how.

    My response is partially based on the fact that when your blind umpire friend posted his worthless ball and strikes theme you were silent. In fact, you posed your racial question to the blind umpire because you see him as a kindred spirit. Forgive me if I tend to lump you in with the blind umpire.

    When Ralph Nader suggested that Barack Obama was an Uncle Tom and in response Black bloggers cited criticisms of Ralph Nader from White intelligentsia, we would not be having a discussion of whether Blacks should be quoting White critics.

    I wrote a comment - not attached to a comment of yours - about how the critics were now beginning to attack the critics, and the pile was growing higher by the hour, with the discussion pretty obviously now beginning to attack people's private behaviours, and therefore, suggesting that maybe we should pull back from going in that direction.

    You choose to come in and respond by attempting to drag MY point over to where YOU wanted to have a fight. That is, you wanted to point out that H-P's points were the same as those of male critics, and that the male crtics point to the West-Smiley relationship.

    Well hello, but that WASN'T MY POINT, and double hello excuse me, but my point was absolutely correct. That's what Boyce Watkins is doing - attacking the critic of the critic. I wasn't commenting on male vs female or West's links to Smiley. It was about a never-ending spiral of commentary that attacks the other critics. Get it? Good.

    Now, I'm sorry that you're someone who wanders the blogs looking for fights, and who gets all excited when he sees the name of someone he's fought with before, but I've told you before, I'm not speaking to you. In my books, you are beneath contempt. I don't give a damn if you're black, I will repeat - anyone that argues in the ways you do, using the terms you do, smearing others and behaving completely without grace, is someone I have no wish to engage with. And I will now repeat what I have asked you before,


    The reason I put the "strike one" comment up was to avoid engaging, and also to try and hint to you that your comment had NOTHING to do with what I was pitching. It was just you, wandering down the thread, looking for names such as mine and Stardust and Des to fight with.

    Now if I may, I'm requesting that you please take your desire to fight elsewhere.


    Actually if YOU didn't want a fight you could have just stated what you did above. I'm supposed to read your mind when you post a strike? You could have said "that's not my point.", but you didn't

    bye bye

    It seems folks like H-P were discussing the quality of West's discourse.  Just as the reason you don't want anything to do with rmr is because of the quality of his discourse.

    Much of the discourse on blog sites such as this is about the quality of discourse.  Many will throw up their hands and say "on no...a meta discussion again."  But it seems to me that a big (but by no means the only) reason we can't get further along on issues from the budget to poverty to health care is a result of the quality of discourse in this country. 

    At times people seem to be like a marriage counselor who tells the couple it doesn't matter how they communicate with each other, just that they are. 

    The problem isn't that a critic is criticizing another critic about his or her criticism of another critic (and so on), but the quality of that criticism.  It is a very important topic and one that should not be just ignored when it devolves into something less than of high quality.  It is an issue we must face head on, over and over again.  And if this and that discussion starts, in one's opinion, to spiral, the point to be made is how to get the criticism back on track, not that a critic should criticize another critic.  This is the only way we are going to get to place where we are actually talking about what matter

    Without making a stand on whether your criticism of rmr's criticism have merit, I believe the fundamental topic of the complaint is significant.

    But I am a little confused that you would believe making the strike call was in some way a means to avoid engagement.  Being ambiguous isn't a way to avoid engagement, just another way to engage.

    Apparently you're selling some sort of "communications" seminar. While I'm not interested, I am interested in avoiding ambiguity. So let me get this by the short and curly. 

    1. The article being debated was being debated by people too dull to see that the author was actually saying "West and Harris-Perry have been f*cking, and she's now bitter and vengeful." I'm real sorry if all you communications wizards are too dull to pick up on that, but hey, there it is.

    2. My point was that people ought to maybe open their eyes and decide if - out of the wide world of commenters and critics - they want to try and prettify this particularly nasty little branch of personal hate-swapping up into something resembling politics. Or.... as is often the best course... to step back, walk away, and find another entry point that brings us back to the more publicly-relevant points at hand. And if you feel somehow censored by my advice, hey - free world! Go to it! When you get to the question of distiniguishing birthmarks on West's dick, do let us all know!

    3. As for you commenting on me and rmrd, please go to hell. What he said originally was beyond the pale and has since been ruled outside the TOS. At the time, I heard nothing of any value said by yourself, so excuse me if I'm not too keen to listen to your lectures now. Because, yes, if anyone began to call another person on here a "Rapist," I would expect others to step in. To be called pro-slavery and a Slaver and similar things - which at least 3 commenters did - struck me as unbelievable. Because - in the version I was taught - slavers tended to not just rape, but murder, torture, etc. so to have at least 3 of the people who still frequent this site able to get away with that sort of thing just blew me away.

    As for those who said nothing at the time, let me just say that they made their lack of backbone very clear at the time. I'm sorry if they were afraid to call others out for unacceptable behaviour, but in my mind, it was a straight up call, and those who didn't make it were... gutless.

    And if that seems harsh to you, let me remind you, "Remaining silent isn't a way to avoid engagement, just another way to engage."

    Now. At this point, why don't you take note of who the people are on this site who make it a practice to target a very high percentage of their comments on the people they hate, and give them a little scolding on communications, ok? Oh whoops! Sorry! I'd forgotten that they tend to be the people you're most closely aligned with politically! 

    Shorter: Piss. Off. Hypocrite.

    How's that for ambiguity?

    I'm done.

    First off, regarding point 3: one thing that never ceases to annoy me is people believing on public threads that they're entitled to have a private conversation with someone.  It is my opinion every comment sub-thread is fair game.  Even if you and rmr had had twenty comments and counter comments without no one else jumping in, if I have something to say then I'll jump in and say it.  If you or anyone else doesn't like it, I would say that maybe public discussion threads are your thing.

    I haven't had time to go back and research how things unfolded between y'all, and so why in this particular case I refrained from commenting on the merits of your statement. 

    Regarding point 2 - I don't feel in the least bit censored by your advice. I was arguing against your point that critics criticizing critics over how they criticize other critics is not inherently a bad thing.  If in the process it spirals in low quality criticism, one "should find another entry point that brings us back to the more central and publicly-relevant points at hand" as you would say - within the discusson at hand.  Not to walk away from it. 

    As with many blogs, the discussion will go towards a wider net of issues than what the original blog was pointing to.  This can be a good thing.  Personally I always enjoy it when people go off on some slightly or completely OT tangent that has some redeeming quality.  Even if it for the two or so people who are involved in it.  To say everything being written here had to do with the "article being debated" as you saw it is so off the mark.  The "West issue" deals with so many varied issues from blacks in academia to what is an appropriate way to criticize the president to how do we talk about poverty and the solutions to it. 

    I agree silence is another way to engage.  It can send a lot of different messages - depending on the context and the individuals involved.  At the same time, it is not only a public message board, but also a volunteer one.  No one is obligated to comment on anything or to get involved in a particular back and forth.   And in no way does failure to comment there mean the person loses the right to comment here. 

    My guess is had I jumped in and gave you every ounce of support, you wouldn't be so upset that I jumped in your private conversation. 

    We will make assessment and judgments of other people on the threads by what they do and not do.  You see what I said as scolding you and lecturing you, and pisses you off that somehow I pick and choose who I do it. Well, at some level, of course I do.  Just as you pick and choose with whom you mock their comments with that sense of humor you have when the person is attempting to make a serious comment.  I guess I will go back and see if you have applied such disrespect evenly across all commenters or have leaned toward those who less aligned with how you see the world.

    I've never stated that we should be perfect in our comments. Actually my core argument is built around the fact that none of us are perfect and our discourse reflects that.  And in the criticism back and forth of how we criticize others' criticism we can learn and maybe get better at this thing called discourse. 

    I happened to think the "West issue" has a lot to teach us as we engage it.  I took your original post as dismissing it all as a big nothing.  Maybe none of this would have come to this if you didn't feel compelled to sit down at this particular blog table and lecture and scold the rest of us with our dull brains.  So isn't being hypocritical of you to lecture me about lecturing others about communications when your entire original post was just one big lecture?

    Thanks, I made a statement  about Harris-Perry and got a strike call. My first impression was WTF. I then posted the cartoon. I didn't respond to the second strike call. Was I ticked? Yup. So I did repeatedly refer to the blind ump. Then quinn unleashes that I was looking for a fight. The confusion surrounding the strike call probably did influence the conversation with stardust.

    During this discussion, I pointed out that West has Black supporters and detractors. I didn't see Blacks as trying to steal Cornel West away from the rest of the public. It was West's attack on Obama's manhood and blackness that threw up the red flag.

    I don't agree with Michael Moore on his objection to killing Bin Laden, but if Moore can get an out- of-Afghanistan movement going, I'll be there with him. If Jesse Jackson organizes around stooping the GOP's attack on minority and poor people voting rights, I'll be there with him, despite the fact that Jackson talked about the way Obama criticized "n-words". If West actually follows the lead of WEB DuBois and is not only a university mouthpiece but someone would builds somthing (like DuBois did with the NAACP), I'll be there with West.

    West let his mouth write a check that his public street level body of word couldn't cash. Eddie Glaude seems to refuse to address the bile of West's words but Glaude does point out that unemployment and foreclosures need to be a major focus. There are signs that employment is groing slowly. If banks commiited illegal acts in the way good credit people got shifted to high risk loans then perhaps class action lawsuits are the option.

    The truth is that a lot of the so-called "Black solidarity for Obama" leaders like Tom Joyner are taking more action behind the scenes to get and keep Black kids into and graduating from college;  educating people about their voting rights and giving numbers to call if they have a problems casting a vote: and providing aid to New Orleans, Haiti and the flood victims in the delta than all of the Wests, Smileys, Glaudes and Watkins of the world.


    "It was just you, wandering down the thread, looking for names such as mine and Stardust and Des to fight with."

    Yes, yes. yes.  Poor you.  Poor Stardust.  Poor Des.  Why in the world would anyone want to pick a fight with internet diplomats and statesmen such as yourselves?

    And in response to your mewling about being smeared as pro-slavery elsewhere in this thread, quit lying about what I said.  I was careful in how I phrased things, and repreatedly noted that your pro-secession position necessarily meant you were sanguine about the practice of slavery continuing unchecked (at least in the confederacy) for the foreseeable future, because the slaves' rights to freedom were trumped by the South's right to secede.  In response, Des repeatedly doubled down, referring to slaves as "property" without any qualification whatsoever, and devoting a whole post to a tongue-in-cheek (I presume) advicacy of the pro-secession position. 

    And yet you supported Des at every turn, never stopping to ackowledge the real-world consequences of those arguments or rhetorical excesses.  Not that this is the first time your loyalty to your internet friends has trumped your good sense, but it is one of the most recent, and you are the one who refuses to let it go.  Pretty pathetic, IMO.

    As I've said before, if you don't want to be challenged on your opinions, stop posting them in public forums on the internet.  You give as good as you get in these exchanges; it's really unseemly to whine when you are only reaping what you routinely sew.

    Do not want to talk to this thing after his MLK-on-the-plantation slur, but want to make clear:

    "In response, Des repeatedly doubled down, referring to slaves as "property" without any qualification whatsoever"

    The qualification was "US law at the time", very clearly stated about 100 times. If we talk about Saudi Arabia, we have to use Sharia law as one of our references. That's not saying we agree with Sharia law, simply noting what exists, what the government expects, what are the rules of the land. If we talk about Europe in 1300, we have to assume they didn't know America existed. I thought this common sense, but apparently was wrong.

    Bye, done.

    Ditto; you either don't want to, or are unable to get the point I'm trying to make to get a wider angle on the discussion, sooooo....bye.

    Should have added that I was in effect playing at apologizing to Q about opening things up again, though I did want to try to add another dimension that I thought might be more worthwhile than he said/she said about what he said/ sort of stuff. 

    I was wrong; bye again.

    Since West was giving an interview and not writing a straightforward essay, the flow of his overall logic is hard to pin down.  But I think a lot of people's responses, including mine, is based on conclusion that West was saying Obama's policy approach toward the poor and disenfranchised,  especially those of the black community, and his comfort with white (Jewish) corporate America is because of his deracination.  His fear of the free independent black man is evidence of a mindset that leads him to take policy approaches that benefit the white elite over the poor black communities, and the poor in general.

    As a consequence, West seems to make the assertion that to understand Obama and his policy approach / administrative personnel is based on one's understanding of whether Obama could be at peace with his racial identity.  For whites in this country, that makes it a difficult issue about which to have an "opinion" of merit for obvious reasons. That someone who is white would defer to someone who has had to truly struggle with their racial identity is understandable.

    There is also the issue of how do we deal with poverty in this country, and to what extent should policy approaches focus on poverty in general and to what extent racical considerations should be taken into consideration.  There is a good argument to be made that poverty is poverty, and should be addressed as a non-racial issue.  Yet, when one is implementing the programs and solutions on the ground in all of the neighborhoods across the country, the specific needs and "culture" of the neighborhood should be taken into consideration in order to adapt the solution to the neighborhood.  One of those considerations would be the racial and ethnic make-up of the neighborhood.  A program that works well in a poor rural white neighborhood is not necessarily going to be directly translatable to poor, urban neighborhood with a large population of Asian refugees. 

    This reason why West gives me a headache is that the manner of discourse leads to less clarity regarding the struggle to help those in poverty and keep those just above it from slipping down into it.  He has made the matter of dealing with poverty on a federal level a question of whether the person who is at the top position okay with his racical identity and reduced the discourse on race and this country back to simple binary assertions.

    This reason why West gives me a headache is that the manner of discourse leads to less clarity regarding the struggle to help those in poverty and keep those just above it from slipping down into it.  He has made the matter of dealing with poverty on a federal level a question of whether the person who is at the top position okay with his racical identity and reduced the discourse on race and this country back to simple binary assertions.

    Unfortunately Trope the psychology of this dopes have a baring on it because it will bias ones decisions. Either consciously or subconsciously.

    Wouldn't it be nice that one could make these types of decisions with out bias of that sort. I understand that even ZEN masters require 10 years or more of study to even come close.

    I am working from the assumption that West knew exactly what he saying (to the extent anyone can know exactly what it is we're saying) and how it would play out there in the blogosphere.  Part of me believes that he said what said in the way he said it because it would result in this much attention. 

    Now we all have our biases, and we should always struggle to be as much aware as possible of what they are and how they influence our conclusions and assertions.  Had West framed his discussion on Obama in this manner, I wouldn't have a problem with it.  But he didn't talk about his inaugration "dis" from this pov.  It was presented as evidence for his larger assertion. 

    In the end, knowing what he knows about race, politics and discourse in this country* - claiming Obama's approach to poor and the black community is a consequence of his deracination was irresponsible.

    *of course I am working on my assumptions (biases included) on what I think he knows about race, politics and discourse in this country.

    I have a feeling West will eventually retract, revise, or admend his words.


    For those who want to see Dr. Cornel West's appearance on Roland Martin's news program on TVOne this past Sunday, it is available as a free download on iTunes. You can go to iTunes and search for Roland Martin. There is an audio and video version of the show available. West's appearance begins about 2 minutes into the show. Draw your own conclusions on where West stands on his original statement.

    The video is not available on Roland Martin's own website yet, so I can't provide a direct link.

    Thought you might appreciate seeing this April 16, 2002 Timothy Noah piece that I ran across following some links, especially as you're speaking about academic games in your post.

    Also, Paul Devlin @ The Root asks a good question.

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