In Defense of My stance Against Cornel West

Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree


In Defense of My Stance Against Cornel West


In response to my last column, Dr. Boyce Watkins Announces His Withdrawal from Cornel West Controversy , one reader said the following:


"Wattree – you should stop kissing President Obama’s ass without thinking about your political decisions. He hasn’t done anything for you, but you talk about him like you work for him."


Such comments are so typical of Cornel West supporters that they’ve become a mantra. They invariably accuse anyone who dares to point out that West’s blatant public slander of the President of the United States was counterproductive, unsubstantiated, and frankly, stupid, as only being interested in defending President Obama. They try to avoid the issue of West’s grossly unprofessional behavior by accusing his critics of being Obama cheerleaders. So let me dispose of that allegation at the outset.


As I’ve mentioned many times before, I’ve written several articles that are highly critical of President Obama - one, long before Obama was even sworn into office. In the article, A Journalist’s First Responsibility, written on July 8, 2008, I point out unequivocally that it’s not a journalist’s responsibility to try to protect a favored candidate:


"On June 20th Senator Barack Obama announced that he was supporting the current FISA bill before the senate. That bill gives retroactive immunity to all telecommunications companies against all private law suits for cooperating with the Bush administration's program of spying on the American people without a court order, as currently required by current law . . .


"I've been roundly criticized by fellow Obama supporters for bringing this issue out. They say that ‘I'm hurting our candidate’, and ‘I'm not seeing the big picture.’ But in response I suggest, when truth becomes a hindrance to a candidate's viability, it's not truth that's the problem–it's the candidate. And when the "greater good" involves journalists keeping the people in the dark, it becomes the nation's problem. Thus, it's not up to journalists to keep Obama's candidacy viable--it's up to Obama."


Thus, my strident criticism of Cornel West has nothing to do with trying to protect Obama. I’m speaking out against West’s unmitigated stupidity. Period.


Any Black person who doesn’t recognize the importance of, at the very least, respecting the first Black President of the United States is an idiot. While that doesn’t preclude one from criticizing Obama’s policies, just like with any other president, West criticized him as a Black man, which is an exercise in self-hatred, and betrays his true attitude toward Black people in general. So West didn’t merely make himself look stupid, he made the Black community look stupid as well. First, by clearly demonstrating that many of us don’t have any self-respect.  And secondly - since his high profile sends the false impression that he’s one of the best and brightest among Black people - his reckless and unprofessional assertions and behavior reinforces the racist belief that Black professionals are something less than their White counterparts.


To this day, there are many racists who claim that Black professionals are professionals in name only. They contend that due to Affirmative Action, Black professionals didn’t have to pay the dues to obtain their credentials that their White counterparts had to pay. Therefore, they’re less qualified. As a direct result of that attitude, many highly qualified Black professionals are being passed over for upward mobility in their chosen professions.


But Black professionals have been slowly proving that contention is a lie. People like Johnnie Cochran and Colin Powell have stepped up to the plate to demonstrate that they were not only as good as their White counterparts, but in many cases, much better. That accounts for why so many White folks hated O.J. Simpson. While many simply wanted to see justice prevail, there were others who hated O.J. for much more than the fact that they thought he was a murderer. The primary reason they hated O.J. so intensely was because he brought Johnnie Cochran to the world’s stage, and Johnnie proved beyond a doubt that the racist contention that Black professionals were inferior was, and is, a lie.


Think about it. At the very height of the affirmative action controversy Johnnie Cochran walked into the courtroom from, essentially, out of nowhere. He then told some of the most celebrated attorneys in the world to scoot over, and then proceeded to play the legal system like a fiddle. Thereafter, for the very first time, instead of racists saying that a Black man was inferior, they claimed that O.J. got away with murder because he could afford to hire the very best - Johnnie Cochran, a Black man.  And now, the very same is true of President Obama with respect to our political system, regardless to what you think of his politics. And it's no accident, that Cornel West, Tavis smiley, and many rabid conservatives also hate him - and, ironically, for the very same reason.


Thus, we were well on our way to proving our point regarding the competence and intellect of Black professionals. Then you get a jealous, self-serving idiot like Cornel West come along whose words and behavior essentially says, Naw, naw, White folks,  y’all right about this dude. He ain’t nothing but another Black pickaninny. I’m the genius!  I’m the one you should be listening to! I was at Harvard long before he was. He butted in line. It’s suppose to be my turn now!  "He’s just 'a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats." And further, "I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men" (The latter statement seems to have been designed to trigger a knee-jerk response from the few reactionary Black people in the community).


But that latter statement was also just enough for racists to point to as confirmation of their contention that Black "intellectuals" are inferior thinkers. As a scholar, West should have known better than anyone else that you should never make an assertion that you can’t substantiate in the very next sentence, or no later than the following paragraph. Yet, he states, among other things, that due to Barack Obama’s background, he has "a certain fear of free Black men." What evidence does he have of that? Absolutely none. So he’s guilty of reckless, unscholarly, and frankly, ridiculous thinking.


I mean, I could say that because Cornel West - this so-called passionate lover of Black people - married a White woman and never taught at a school that more than a lucky few Black people can even get into, that he’s afraid of free Black women and has no respect for Black scholarship. But unlike West, I wouldn’t dare make such an idiotic assertion. Why? Because I can’t crawl into his head to substantiate my facts.  In addition, I wouldn’t want to embarrass the Black community with such stupidity. And finally, because I - this unrepentant hood rat - understand the importance of disciplined thought.


Eric L. Wattree

Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.


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