Hypocrisy and double standards, thy name is Corny:
His attack on Jesse Jackson—a repetition of the tired trope that the civil rights leader is “addicted to the camera”—is not only lazy, but an exercise in the painful hilarity of irony. West’s back of the book biography states, “He appears frequently on Real Time with Bill Maher, The Colbert Report, Democracy Now, CNN, C-SPAN, and other national and international media.”
West’s own affection for the camera and applause leads him to obliviously betray a double standard in his judgments. Bill Maher, who for all his wit and charm, has almost none of the depth of Hitchens, is not a “sophomoric atheist,” but a “prophetic” one, because he, in the words of West, “has played such an important role in giving me tremendous exposure around the country and the world in his TV shows.”
Most public intellectuals have large egos, but West’s is seemingly so out of control that he has no shame in all but admitting that it is what motivates his evaluations. He treats Louis Farrakhan with an amazing sensitivity, because he has had “wonderful dialogues with my dear brother.” West claims to privately “push him” on his anti-Semitism, misogyny, and homophobia, but none of that comes out in the book. Instead West assures readers that Farrakhan “always pushes me in a powerful way.”
The “wonderful dialogue” is a reoccurring reference for West, who is constantly identifying famous people he has met. Throughout the entirety of Black Prophetic Fire, he seems to use his celebrity to make the amateur error of arguing by authority. He criticizes people without offering evidence, he praises people on the basis of knowing them personally, and he even uses his imagination to make wild speculations. There is a long passage in which he gives a fictional exchange that he believes would have taken place if Malcolm X and Martin Luther King had ever met and discussed the future of America.
Translation: Cornel West is a phony who no longer employs academic rigor in either his thinking or writing, substituting instead an outsized regard for his own self-importance while taking potshots at other blacks of accomplishment (in politics, academia, media and business) with whom he regularly finds fault for not being "authentic and true to their skin colour" while himself becoming a caricature and celebrity-drenched cartoon character who has lost whatever credibility he once held as an intellectual gadfly.
One wonders how much the internet itself has dulled West's mind while riling up his vulgar attack methodology which is employed exclusively against black "brothas" but never against white colleagues such as Bill Maher and (noted Obamabot) Paul Krugman.
#BLM, to which West has made recent symbolic attempts to attach himself, is refreshing and vital because it exists outside the black intellectual elite which is whitey funded and media mainstreamed. #BLM female members famously interrupted Bernie presentations and presciently caused the Bern pause to consider that they had a good point. These female interlocutors inarticulately and rudely exposed the great weakness of Bernie Sander's campaign: his lack of connection to the wider minourity electorate, which whatever you think about it, is necessary for the Bern to address and overcome if he wishes to win the Demotardic nomination.
Cornel West has now jumped headfirst into Sander's campaign in South Carolina, the first in a long string of primary/caucus states where minourity voters are key. He has become the warm-up act for the Bernie Sander's Show in the crucial SEC primary states where blacks make a large percentage of the Demotardic vote (fully half in SC).
The big question for me: why did Bernie go with West, a figure who has demeaned himself in recent years by first playing Obama's lapdog then becoming his harshest critic after it became apparent to West (rather belatedly and naively it seems to me for such a great intellectual) that the first black President was going to govern as the politician that he is rather than the Black Messiah of West's dream world or the progressive messiah of white middle class delusionality?
Will the average black voter respond to what appears to be this self-obsessed egomaniac's harsh negativity towards Obama while pimping for Sanders, who has spent fifty years in lily white Vermont effectively ignoring the problems of the black underclass because there isn't one to be represented in the Green Mountain state?
Ostensibly, Bernie turned to West because he couldn't connect with more relevant, current leaders of the street movement that woke him up from his dogmatic slumbers on teh campaign trail. Besides, #BLM is basically leaderless much like #OWS which it emulates in some respects. #OWS resisted party political activities and #BLM to date has done same.
Or maybe Bernie believes he needs celebrity endorsements rather than "real movement people" endorsements. If so, this implies an inconsistency between the reality of his campaign and his rhetoric. Obviously, lack of consistency is a fact of life in electoral politics. However, aren't the facts of political reality the precise cause of West's condemnation of Obama? Can we count that he someday will also turn on the Bern? Or will he give Sanders a pass much like he does Krugman?
Voting for presidit may in fact not matter to the Black Lives matter contingent. They seek justice which by necessity must first be worked out at the local level. And let's face facts, having the right to vote since 1965 hasn't achieved all that much in changing the grey matter behind the blue eyes of Amerikkka. One bit maybe, here or there. But the criminal justice and economic record speaks the real story for African America. With the few celebrity exceptions like West to prove the rule.
What does seem definite, West here sees an opportunity to keep himself relevant (IE, in front of cameras) "by any means necessary" in coming out for Sanders. And there is nothing wrong with that, except that West tied himself to Obama the same way in 2008 and now is busy burning every Obamabotic bridge that he can torch in the most vituperative, nasty way possible, making an udder fool of himself in the process.
This tainted clown, this sad sack minstrel show, this wealthy media celebrity, will now successfully open doors for Bernie Sanders into the black community, a community that still views Obama whatever his shortcomings as an example of outstanding achievement regardless of his failure to become what he never claimed to be, the Black Moses, instead of the actual herstorical accomplishment, becoming the first African-American president?
Yesterday, West opened for Sanders in S Carolina at a herstorically black college and two more stops. Notably, the audiences (beyond the HBC crowd) were largely white.
The good news: Bernie is getting more exposure and seems to be gaining ground, if the WaPo report accurately reflects the situation. Time and polling, especially post-Iowa and New Hampshire, will tell the story.
Tevin Spruill and Christopher Lewis, two students at Benedict College, said that they had not heard much about Sanders prior to his appearance Saturday but that they were leaving the gymnasium prepared to support him.
“Every single thing he said made complete sense,” said Lewis, 20, a junior majoring in social work.
Spruill said he wasn’t concerned about West’s criticism of Obama, saying it is different to criticize a sitting president than someone aspiring to the job. As for Obama, “he hasn’t done a perfect job, but he’s been a good president,” said Spruill, 21, a music major.
Hopefully, West has now grokked the difference between electoral politics and religious prophecy. Sanders needs champions in the minourity community. His message should resonate with the largely untapped youth movement of all colours (much as Obama succeeded in doing during his campaigns).
However, as the music majour astutely remarked in the blockquote above, there is a world of difference between a sitting president and someone aspiring to the job.
West, a professor emeritus at Princeton University, was once a popular thought leader among African Americans, but his standing has been questioned more recently because of his harsh tone in criticizing Obama.
Neither Black Moses nor Hebrew Moses need apply for the White House job. Different qualifications required. A great intellectual should know that. A smart pol definitely knows that.