- Originally published, December 17, 10:30 am.
- December 17, 2:03 pm.
- Added commentary under Jerusalem.
I am sorry to see that this seems likely to turn ugly and fear that Cornel West will take the worst of this. I have revered both West and Ta-Nehisi Coates for their intelligence, their hearts, their passion, and their writing. But on the topic of Barack Obama, Cornel West, who initially praised Obama, has come around to my view. Coates clearly hasn’t and I have a serious grievance with those who are willing to address race or gender but remain silent on class and with those who are complicit with neoconservatism and its war crimes or with neoliberalism.
I notice also that at least here, West drops the honorific “Brother,” in referring to Coates. I don’t know what’s going on here. Maybe the Guardian wouldn’t permit it with its style requirements. But in the absence of that or a similarly anodyne explanation, I fear that this is more than a fundamental disagreement about the nature of power relations in the U.S. (where I would join Coates in pessimism). I fear that it is personal.
And I fear that it is about more than just the issues presented here. When West accuses Coates of a “preoccupation with white acceptance,” he alludes to ‘respectability,’ a movement exemplified by Bill Cosby among better off Blacks to assimilate into hegemonic white mainstream culture while blaming poorer Blacks for their own problems. Coates might do well to ask American Indians how assimilation worked out for them.
Cornel West, “Ta-Nehisi Coates is the neoliberal face of the black freedom struggle,” review of We Were Eight Years in Power, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Guardian, December 17, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/17/ta-nehisi-coates-neoliberal-black-struggle-cornel-west
The polite fiction that the U.S. would serve as an honest broker in the ‘dispute’ (much too mild a word) between Palestine and Israel is now, hopefully, dead. But with this comes a price.
The Trump administration, having allegedly anticipated the Palestinian response, now blames the Palestinians for the failure of the peace process, promises to continue to pursue it, but has a scapegoat for any failure of the process, and thus frees itself to pursue an even more pro-Israeli approach.
Dov Lieber, “Palestinians won’t meet with Kushner, Greenblatt or any US officials on peace,” Times of Israel, December 17, 2017, https://www.timesofisrael.com/abbas-aide-we-wont-meet-with-kushner-greenblatt-or-any-us-officials-on-peace/
- Cornel West, with David Ritz, Living and Loving Out Loud (Carlsbad, CA: Smiley, 2009).↩
- Democracy Now!, “Cornel West: Obama’s Response to Trayvon Martin Case Belies Failure to Challenge ‘New Jim Crow’,” July 22, 2013, http://www.democracynow.org/2013/7/22/cornel_west_obamas_response_to_trayvo; Democracy Now! “Cornel West: Unlike Bernie Sanders, I’m Not Convinced the Democratic Party Can Be Reformed,” December 1, 2016, https://www.democracynow.org/2016/12/1/cornel_west_bernie_sanders_is_wrong; Thomas Frank, “Cornel West: ‘He posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency’,” Salon, August 24, 2014, http://www.salon.com/2014/08/24/cornel_west_he_posed_as_a_progressive_and_turned_out_to_be_counterfeit_we_ended_up_with_a_wall_street_presidency_a_drone_presidency/; Ahiza Garcia, “Cornel West: Obama ‘Facilitates The Killing Of Innocent Palestinians’,” Talking Points Memo, August 4, 2014, http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/cornel-west-obama-war-criminal; Cornel West, “Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama,” Guardian, January 9, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/09/barack-obama-legacy-presidenc; Cornel West, “The Democrats delivered one thing in the past 100 days: disappointment,” Guardian, April 24, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/24/democrats-delivered-one-thing-100-days-disappointment; Cornel West, “Ta-Nehisi Coates is the neoliberal face of the black freedom struggle,” review of We Were Eight Years in Power, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Guardian, December 17, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/17/ta-nehisi-coates-neoliberal-black-struggle-cornel-west↩
- Associated Press, “Cosby berates blacks for abuse, failure as parents,” NBC News, July 2, 2004, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/5345290/ns/us_news-life/t/cosby-berates-blacks-abuse-failure-parents/; Jesse J. Holland, “Cosby’s criticisms of poor blacks come back to haunt him,” Grio, December 23, 2014, http://thegrio.com/2014/12/23/bill-cosby-black-community/↩
- Dov Lieber, “Palestinians won’t meet with Kushner, Greenblatt or any US officials on peace,” Times of Israel, December 17, 2017, https://www.timesofisrael.com/abbas-aide-we-wont-meet-with-kushner-greenblatt-or-any-us-officials-on-peace/↩