Michael Eric Dyson’s Hatchet Eulogy for Cornel West

west-dyson

As you probably know, sociology professor, radio host, MSNBC contributor and frequent visitor to the White House, Michael Eric Dyson, has seized the spotlight with a disgraceful hatchet job on Cornel West in The New Republic. Its title, The Ghost of Cornel West, gives its aim away. Dyson and, no doubt, a whole lot of others want West dead, at least in social and political terms, and Dyson’s screed draws quite a lot of blood.

In most respects, it’s very much a by-the-numbers smear, which credits West’s increasingly vocal antipathy to Obama to personal and professional decline, and the usual array of pathologies and character defects that prevent public figures from staying within the boundaries of permissible dissent: narcissism, envy, insincerity, hypocrisy, bitterness and grudges. Y’know, Ralph Nader syndrome.

Having situated West’s objections to Obama in pathology, Dyson feels no need to address them with any seriousness, while extolling Obama’s virtues at length. Dyson also deftly attempts to foreclose on redemption, by insisting that, on reflection, West was never all that much to begin with. “Exciting” but not much else. Kind of a spotlight-loving showman in the end. Dyson recites a catalog of Black scholars and public figures who, by Dyson’s lights, exceed West in every meaningful respect except “controversy,” the one area where West is  “a heavyweight champ.” TNR accompanies this with an illustration of the oft-smiling West looking uncharacteristically ranty as well as a number of shades darker than he actually is.

As hatchet jobs go, Dyson’s assassination cum eulogy is unique only in how overwrought it is. Clocking in at a hefty 9400+ words and richly festooned with concern troll anguish and “think piece” signifiers, Dyson’s essay provides cover for people who want to publicly drink West’s blood without looking like that’s what they’re doing. Dyson’s revolting performance on Twitter complements this perfectly, lightly salting giddiness with grief, as he rebroadcasts every compliment, less like the author of a conformist hit piece, than a man who has published the equivalent of War and Peace and taken his ailing father off life support on the same day.  This tweet sums up the mood.

It was a dirty job but someone had to do it, Dyson seems to be saying, and he is not wrong to see it that way, whatever his motives were. For all we know, Dyson may think he’s just working off a grudge West created when he took Dyson and other subservient Black careerists to the woodshed.  This is, after all, not the first time Dyson has taken a swing; nor is it the first time TNR has raked West over the coals. But a respected Black public figure declaring another one finished, metaphorically dead, via a widely touted think piece, is a different ball of wax altogether, one requiring a fair amount of sign-off from people with clout. Those who regard this as another salvo in a petty feud are really missing the point. A grudge doesn’t automatically get you 10,000 words in The New Republic, a mouthpiece of neoliberalism with a notoriously racist history. Dyson’s piece does not have the conventional timely hook. There is no evidence that West has recently hit some ostensible new low that provoked Dyson to get to work. So why now?

As I’ve said in the past, there are no accidents in mainstream media, which is nothing less than a one way conversation in which the ruling class does all the talking and doesn’t take chances. To answer “why now?” it’s important to understand that despite all of his public handwringing over Obama, West has been a good partisan soldier when it counted. He counseled people to vote for the president, not simply the first time around, but in 2012, a year after he’d concluded the president was “a Black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a Black puppet of corporate plutocrats.” Of course, anguished support is the bread and butter of the Democratic Party, without which it would cease to exist. So people like West, who qualify their tactical support with a blistering critique from the left, are uniquely useful to legitimizing the process and suckering the people most likely to sit out the election back into the booth.

The problem is, when they’re not acting as role models of irrational compliance, people like West are simply a pain in the ass and a risk, ungratefully injecting things like class, oligarchy, imperialism, capitalism and white supremacy into the insipid national “debate.” This is tolerable to the extent that they can be counted upon to perform compliance when circumstances require it, and to the extent that their popularity and exposure can be kept to suitable limits. As lefts that function like this go, West is much more of a wildcard than say, Chomsky, a quadrennial Punxsutawney Phil that emerges from his hole to always see the shadow of Republican calamity.

West, on the other hand, seems to be getting genuinely less compliant as the years go on  — signifying decline, as Dyson would have it — and if Obama could run for a third term, I wouldn’t hazard a guess about what West would do. I am even less confident that he’ll be anything but a wedge between Clinton and the leftier elements of the Black community. That West is more and more identified with Black Lives Matter — something that is surely giving people in high places hives — only adds to the risk he poses as a Black public figure potentially sitting out Hillary’s coronation. History shows that there is nothing more terrifying to the ruling class than resistance to racism tethered to left rather than liberal politics. From a ruling class perspective, Black Lives Matter goes from skin rash to cancer the moment liberals and libertarians lose control of it. The widely respected West challenges that control in ways that thoroughly marginalized ANSWER and RCP members don’t, especially given his unwillingness to overlook liberal opportunists on the grounds of solidarity.

If it seems I’m overthinking this, you really don’t understand how few risks the political establishment takes, the extent to which it fears Black radicalism, the importance it places on elections, nor the extent to which marginalizing genuine lefts is the primary function of liberal Democrats and the thing they do best.  Every presidential campaign cycle features at least one heavily signal-boosted attack on recalcitrant lefts that comes from an ostensible ally.  In 2012, Rebecca Solnit did the honors with her famous, and widely reproduced, Letter to My Dismal Allies of the US Left, which provided the talking points for hippie-punching that year. Dyson’s offal goes well beyond that, by viciously singling out a widely venerated individual for ostracism. Since this person happens to be Black, it is a twofer of ruthless political discipline, instruction to both the media establishment and the rank and file, that resistance from Black people and radicals must not be tolerated.

UPDATE (link to this update)

In a piece I wrote on Gary Webb I said, “pointedly even-handed, ‘both sides are wrong’, analyses…are as much a part of defamation campaigns as outright hatchet jobs.” Liberal sportswriter Dave Zirin helpfully demonstrates this in The Nation with respect to the Dyson/West dustup, deploying a kinder, gentler concern trolling.

Before at last getting around to noting that Dyson has, in a 10,000 word piece, addressed not one of West’s complaints against Obama, he commends Dyson for his “panoramic, painfully personal, deeply researched” essay ; helpfully summarizes Dyson’s view of West as a celebrity-obsessed, “faint shadow of himself”,  and “ear-biting sideshow;”  laments West’s “deeply hurtful”, “vicious” aspersions against Dyson and “Dr. [Melissa] Harris – Perry” which “anger [Zirin’s] blood”; and likens West to the “undeniably narcissistic”, Muhammad Ali, and his jabs at Black careerists to Ali’s “regrettable, and for many unforgivable, questioning of the blackness of the great Joe Frazier, comparing the proud fighter to an ugly gorilla, all in the name of hyping up fights and throwing Frazier off of his game.”

Later on, after Zirin has finally addressed West’s political objections, he returns to the comparison with Ali, noting that the boxer had “two careers” and in the second of these “he was slower but… possessing a new strategy: one where he chose to take punch after punch after punch to the chin, until he either fell down or his opponent tired from exhaustion.” This is West now, we’re to believe, and we’re to understand his jabs at Dyson not as genuine frustration with a thoroughly subservient Black political establishment, but as deliberate goading, a trap into which Dyson has fallen by taking to the pages of The New Republic.

This essay is far too flimsy and dull to take too seriously, but it is instructive from the standpoint of understanding the division of labor in smear campaigns and how their talking points get recapitulated in different wrappers. Apart from validating some of West’s complaints against Obama, Zirin clearly concurs with Dyson’s hit piece in broad strokes: that West is in decline and compensating for it; that he’s a narcissist; that his paltry few aspersions against the Dysons and Perrys are a really big deal; and that these aspersions are rooted in something other than political convictions.

That’s quite lot of concurring, don’t you think?, and all wrapped up in the compassion and even-handedness sorely missing from Dyson’s screed. But this is to be expected based on what Zirin candidly tells us up front: “Dyson wrote the intro to [his] book Game Over and has been a friend to [him] on numerous occasions.” Additionally, Zirin notes he has “benefitted from the kindness offered him” by Harris-Perry.  Zirin is also a Democrat writing in The Nation, which, of course, explains quite a lot, all by itself.

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56 Responses to Michael Eric Dyson’s Hatchet Eulogy for Cornel West

  1. Coldtype says:

    Timely and very well put, damn well put. I hadn’t thought of the Hillary angle at all for it’s all but a certainty that West will put a blow torch to her record during the upcoming campaign. I’d wager my paycheck that Dyson throws on his cape for Hillary in 2016.

    • Tarzie says:

      I’d wager my paycheck that Dyson throws on his cape for Hillary in 2016.

      Most definitely. I believe he already has. Only a strong primary challenge from someone more progressive would alter that course, and I think it would have to be damn strong challenge. He’s an unscrupulous climber through and through.

      I think you’ve called it right on West’s response to Hillary. Someone told me he went with Nader in 2000, a fact that certainly can’t be lost on the people trying to make Clinton’s coronation as seamless as possible.

      • b-psycho says:

        I figure you meant that idiot “Unite Blue” types were deliberately conflating support for Nader in 2000 with supporting Bush (because of course they’d make such a terrible argument), and not that West literally backed Bush.

        I should slap myself for even bothering to double check via search…

        But in my defense, I didn’t pay attention to West at the time & haven’t paid much up to now. Generally knew *of* him, just didn’t seek out his stuff. Guess I thought he could’ve been on some Heighten The Contradictions shit…?

      • Tarzie says:

        Doh! I meant to write Nader and have edited my comment accordingly. Glad you mentioned that. I appreciate the effort you obviously put into trying to make it make sense.

  2. robertmstahl says:

    Just beautiful, the whole piece! And, the ironic humor gets me. I might be soft, but I need a real liberal in “the conversation” as supposed politics becomes so important, as in chemistry for example, nuclear “vision” is all there is, everything the electron, or electricity, was meant to be, which might be the case for the general ignorance of taking “things” a step further instead of into the abyss. Ignorance has become such an Olympic Sport.

    “Dyson’s revolting performance on Twitter complements this perfectly, giddiness lightly salted with grief, less like the author of a conformist hit piece, than a man who has published the equivalent of War and Peace and taken his ailing father off life support on the same day.”

  3. I haven’t paid much attention to West recently, but I will admit that, flawed though he may be, I was relieved to realize that he hadn’t actually died once I got past your headline.

    The problem is, when they’re not acting as role models of irrational compliance, people like West are simply a pain in the ass and a risk, ungratefully injecting things like class, oligarchy, imperialism, capitalism and white supremacy into the insipid national “debate.”

    Plus he also seems to be fairly unafraid of caustically going after prominent liberals for being hypocritical shitheads serving power, which seems fairly rare.

    History shows that there is nothing more terrifying to the ruling class than resistance to racism tethered to left rather than liberal politics.

    Along those lines I think he’s one of the only black celebrity intellectuals who identifies as socialist, which makes him the kind of obstacle to neoliberal divide and conquer that people like Dyson and Harris-Perry will never be.

    I’m guessing you you didn’t go into detail on the pathologizing to keep your post focused, but I thought it was worth noting that the first line and last paragraph are working pretty hard at implying West’s reactions are a sign of mental illness and, somewhat more subtly, drawing on sexism to add weight to the takedown (those crazy scorned women!) while also leading the reader to infer that West’s “feminine” grudge is connected to West having problems with women.

    Also the whole weird prophet exegesis was really strange, but seemed to be doing the same thing as Perry’s 2011 takedown (http://www.thenation.com/blog/160725/cornel-west-v-barack-obama#) except, instead of drawing on their parallel academic positions alone, Dyson focused on the parallels between West’s and his own roles as pastors. Almost as if it was targeted at black churches in order to undermine West’s stature as a Christian. Although, TNR is kind of an odd publication to do this with.

    • Tarzie says:

      he also seems to be fairly unafraid of caustically going after prominent liberals for being hypocritical shitheads serving power, which seems fairly rare.

      Yes, true. I should have pointed that out. There’s a perfect storm here of political opportunism and genuine animus that really doesn’t bode well for him.

      Those are all great points about Dyson’s rhetorical techniques. I wondered about the woman scorned thing myself. I deliberately avoided parsing the text because in the end it’s just a shitty hatchet job and it’s really fucking long. Might be profitable to go a bit more into that, but that’s the kind of thing I’m just as happy to leave to my commenters. I think your insight about the similarity to Perry’s piece might have made my point about the calculated operation at work here a little stronger. Your analysis of the preacher angle sounds very feasible. As you say, TNR is an odd publication for that, but as one would expect, this is getting a lot of signal boosting across the spectrum, including in Black-centered media, something everyone involved certainly anticipated.

      It’s good to see you here.

      • Thanks, it’s good to be here. I’ve been cutting down on my internet contact for a few months, so I might have missed this issue if you hadn’t written about it. I think it’s turning out to be more important than the usual liberal smear piece.

        I deliberately avoided parsing the text because in the end it’s just a shitty hatchet job and it’s really fucking long.

        Yeah, I figured. I think you probably made the right decision. I think there is quite a bit that could be parsed and to do so completely would probably take a post as long as the original piece.

        I also think that some of the parsing would actually function as a distraction. For example, the fact that it’s untransparently motivated by Dyson feeling the same sense of betrayal that he attributes to West is true, but it’s also a way to trap criticism of Dyson in the personal dimension. And, as you rightfully highlight, the personal dimension to the conflict is far less important than the fact that it’s part of a campaign to discredit West by establishment liberals.

      • Tarzie says:

        I think it’s turning out to be more important than the usual liberal smear piece.

        Yeah, all the riff raff are giving it heavy rotation. Dyson’s everywhere shooting his mouth off. This is a major hit job. A Gary Webbing. Will be interesting to see what West comes back with. He seems to be waiting for it to blow over. He might realize that fighting it is probably futile.

  4. parink says:

    For what it’s worth you are not alone in pointing out this hack for what he is.

    • etrgtergrt says:

      thx, always read counterpunch and would have seen it eventually, this Dyson guy is oin WNYC Brian Lehrer (neo liberal extraordinaire) tomorrow 4-22 10am call in or comment, sad

  5. nicecore says:

    Can’t wait for #BiggestLiberalAsshole2016!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Didn’t know if I was going to read the whole thing, after seeing Zirin reply to someone on tweeter who linked to this, maybe you, I read the line:”You know Ralph Nader syndrome” in the second paragraph, chuckled and nodded to myself and kept going. Very astute, wry and to the point. The truth is out there if we want it. Thank you. It is fascinating the lengths that people on the dole of the power system will delude themselves with crumbs of fantasy and promises of some reward or position. I mean, come on, if one is on MSNBC it is easy to know how they roll no matter what gauze is presented. All that is losing it’s grip though thankfully, keep organizing.

  7. BL says:

    Good piece except for the undefended (and, I think, unfair) dig at Chomsky.

    • Tarzie says:

      Good piece except for the undefended (and, I think, unfair) dig at Chomsky.

      Funny you should say that. A lot of people think that’s the best line. I gave Chomsky’s quadrennial endorsement of rotten Democrats what it deserves.

  8. ohhhrly says:

    wonder if it was the letterman appearance that set the machinery in motion http://dailycaller.com/2015/03/17/cornel-west-goes-off-on-obama-we-live-in-an-age-of-the-sellout/

  9. thombrogan says:

    The psychologizing of West is my ‘favorite’ part in this smear campaign. The old “if he wasn’t crazy, he’d agree with Leader 100%” type of idea. It tears campaigns against stigmatizing the mentally ill to shreds in seconds and re-exposes psychiatry as a branch of power for punishing otherwise undetainable dissidents (with psychology being the “I-can’t-commit-you-but-will-testify-against-you” sibling in the shadows). Luckily, most people are too smart to believe such crazy talk and can uncritically accept such smear campaigns against narcissists with dignified humility.

  10. Ben Seattle says:

    Excellent article, as it explains that the attack on West took place to fulfill a class need. Puts the pieces of the puzzle (West, Dyson, Obama, etc) together. This kind of analysis is what the left needs–on everything.

  11. RUKidding says:

    Thanks, Tarzie, for your usual trenchant remarks. Like another commenter, I, at first, thought that I had somehow missed the for-real death of Cornell West. Geez, Dyson, really sinks low with that whole smear. At a passing first *glance,* my observation (fwiw) is that this hit piece is among the earlier salvo’s of Wannabe Empress Clinton’s much desired coronation. After all, hubby (in name only?) Bubba is crowned the “First Black POTUS.” Ergo, one may assume that West will not spare Le Clintons Royale from his blistering commentary (at least one hopes that West will continue in a similar vein).

    These people! Yes, they are on the “Left”wingnut welfare circuit, much as their sycophantic fellow travelers on the Rightwingnut welfare circuit are. Sucking up and kissing up to the 1% as much as possible in order to reap their “just rewards.”

    West is not perfect, but who the eff is?? West has been a breath of fresh air during the ObamaCo reign of error. It’s next to impossible – as a white person – to say anything remotely critical about Obama to my black friends. It’s been great to have West around to tell the truth. The truth hurts, clearly, so the dogs have been let loose to tear West apart.

    Thanks for drawing our attention to this hatchet job. Enjoyed many of the comments as well.

  12. lastwheel says:

    That’s fantastic artwork.

  13. wendyedavis says:

    As others have said, I, too, was relieved that you’d meant Dyson’s *pre-eulogy’ on Cornell West, not that he’d died and I hadn’t known. And thanks for dissecting it so that we don’t have to read.
    I love Brother Cornell, and once wrote (by default, I’m ashamed to admit) at a ‘liberal’ website (read: centrist at least) website at which one contributor’s every other post was attacking West and Tavis Smiley, using the starkest images of Brother Cornell extant. Now Smiley I don’t even know, but West, yes, I do.

    His most recent, or maybe one of the other centrist black Obot there called him out for being at one, count ’em ONE blackLivesMatter protest, and not being arrested. Not true, but yes, some of the Moral Mondays preachers get caught-and-released, but I’d imagine that’s more about optics than selling out.

    But if I understand correctly, it was West who’d organized the #ShutDownA14 in the city recently, and I’d want his ethical/moral convictions and actions on my side, any day.

    Yeah, imagine Dyson, Harris-Perry, and the msm blacks here, if you will. Right.

    https://twitter.com/hashtag/ShutDownA14?src=hash

    Oh, and I looked at his Twitter thing, and he has a post up at the New Yawk Times. Thanks, Tarzie..

  14. Pingback: Michael Eric Dyson V Cornel West | JN201: Print and Online Media

  15. 80 says:

    Considering, collectively, we — black folks — have not had the opportunity to experience freedom in the Western Hemisphere ever, its tragic — yet completely ancillary and obligatory to the goals capital, particularly in the United States, where blacks are marked from birth for captivity, torture, and destruction — to see these venal, privileged black celebrity academics still doing white supremacists’ dirty work.

    BTW, I saw a story about Henry Louis Gates and Ben Affleck, and their master, Sony, colluding to keep Affleck’s gussied-up “liberal” identity intact.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/32411242/ben-affleck-apologises-over-slavery-roots-documentary-cover-up?ocid=socialflow_twitter

    Vamp-Life

    Great work on this blog … You give me a lot hope with your writing.

    • Tarzie says:

      where blacks are marked from birth for captivity, torture, and destruction — to see these venal, privileged black celebrity academics still doing white supremacists’ dirty work.

      I was thinking about this today, wondering what’s the way around it. Black people have been given just enough access to be set against each other this way. However appalling it is, Dyson is making a perfectly rational choice. He’s a rising star. Whatever he does after this, he’ll be a rich man. Compare that to Cornel West, getting the lesson that everyone who steps out of line in a way that matters gets. That’s why it’s so wrong to call people like West narcissistic. Of course the guy has an ego, but he’s self-sacrificing in a way Dyson and his friends Sharpton and Harris-Perry will never be. If people want to fight this kind of thing, I can’t see any way around raising the social costs of renting yourself out. That’s why I think West’s aspersions against these opportunists are both warranted and tactically necessary, which is also why they’re so provocative.

      You give me a lot hope with your writing.

      What a nice thing to say. Not a typical reaction, though, even from my biggest fans.

  16. wendyedavis says:

    Via email, you’d asked “Why would they, if they don’t let nomad speak?”; but I can’t find it on the thread. But since I wrote an answer, I’d like to bring it.

    Only nomad can say for sure, but I’d taken him/her to mean not that they won’t let him speak, but that they can’t *hear* or accept criticisms of Obama. Is it the same for the rest of the ‘black misleadership’ members? It’s tough for many blacks to not be invested in the First Black President’s reign as some sort of litmus test of ‘blacks as ethically good, caring for ordinary people and blacks’, and so on. Their delusions about him, whether conscious or willful, require a sort of armoring against the truth of it all, and not just among the MSM ‘intelligentsia’, their black-identity matrices are so involved. The sad truth is, I see much the same among many of the Ferguson protestors, that, plus still railing against ‘Republicans’.

    A body-centered psychotherapist I trained with taught that there are two ways to breech a person’s defenses that bar self-knowledge and truth: either so gently that one can slide under them, or right between the eyes. And even with that approach, one has to be at least semi-willing to have one’s delusions shatter into pieces, but it does happen, can happen, as a person vacates their cognitive dissonance (yes, over-worked concept) and questions their former beliefs, and build new ones, even a step at a time.

    To me, the writers at BAR are take-no-prisoners truth-tellers, and have the advantage of not-being-nomad, but longtime social activist scholars and journalists whose words they might *hear* more clearly than their friend nomad’s. How nomad might cause them to aware of them is a whole ‘nother thing.

    (And thanks, nomad) (smile) Come by any time.

    • Tarzie says:

      Hi Wendy.

      You saw it in your email but not here because I’d deleted it after deciding it didn’t merit an answer. I’m glad you answered it anyway. Thanks.

    • nomad says:

      That’s funny. I was half joking, but I think I must have missed something. What I said is essentially true though. The reaction I get when criticizing Obama is the same as any white critic might receive. Except more so. More vehemence. I’ve learned to keep my feelings to myself among my black friends and relatives unless someone elicits my thoughts. True story. I was watching TV, minding my own business, watching RT. They were reporting on something or other critical of Obama. My sister passed by commenting “What are they blaming on Obama now?” evidently expecting me to sympathize with the beleaguered first black president (first bi-racial president actually). I simply said, as non confrontationally as possible, “Obama is not what he seems”. To which she responded “Yes he is”.
      (Chuckle).
      https://aislec.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/what-would-it-take-for-barack-obama-to-lose-your-support/

  17. nomad says:

    I don’t know. I hadn’t followed the discussion in a couple of days and a deletion was mentioned so I thought I might have missed something. Not being nomad I thought was funny. Blessed indeed are those that are not nomad. Yeah, I know what it’s like to be banned from a so-called black blog for criticizing Obama. Well, officially it was because I was insufficiently deferential to the host, but that was just the excuse he used. That SNL skit is the truth. After the track record of this imposter over nearly 7 years my people are still under his spell. Where the hell did the PTB develop such powerful mass mind control?

    • nomad says:

      oops this was a reply to
      wendyedavis says:

      April 24, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    • wendyedavis says:

      Clasisic divide and conquer identity politics, akin to the three Gs: Guns, God, and Gays. Race constructed identity was a late addition, but it has a whale of a lot of power. Obama is an extraorinary con man, with his pretty ‘populist’ and ‘wealth inequality’ words signifying absolutely nothing (see: his pulling out all the stops in aid of the TPP fast track and TAFTA).

      All Overton Windows in the political non-discourse go back to Edward Bernays.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Bernays

      The everlasting war on terror and the hegemonic Imperial designs via NATO, the New Cold War, ‘the pivots’, PNAC and Axes of Evil,, are just the most recent iterations of the same old, same old. But stir in the fact that four (?) corporations own all the MSM, and sure, Fox ain’t that different from MSNBC, really.

      • Tarzie says:

        I don’t think identity politics are inherently divide and conquer. West still has one foot in identity politics, but he hasn’t isolated them from economic inequality. This is why I find him compelling and why the political establishment finds him so provocative, the way he consolidates the two.

      • wendyedavis says:

        You may be right that they aren’t *inherenty* divide and conquer, but given that ‘the white race’ was a faux-scientific creation…and I’m sorry I can’t remember why or in aid of what, but in the late 18th century, and given that certain characteristics were implied, if not outright contended, yes, many times blacks, Latinos/Latinas, and so on, may unconsciously bought in those sterotypes, and refuse to name Obama as a corrupt Imperialist warmonger enslaved by Wall Street.

        As for Brother Cornell, remember that he kept hearkening back to class, and the disenfranchised, most of all, whether in this nation or around the globe.

        But is your thinking that the virtual assassination of Brother West full court press is somehow in aid of the coming Presidential election? If so, words fail.

      • Tarzie says:

        But is your thinking that the virtual assassination of Brother West full court press is somehow in aid of the coming Presidential election? If so, words fail.

        I think that’s definitely a factor. As I said in my first piece about this, they indulged him for a while because, so long as he remains a Democrat, if only an anguished, tactical Democrat, he’s useful. I don’t think they’re confident that he’s going to remain loyal for Hillary’s coronation, and his assault on class-free identity politics certainly plays hell with her plans, especially since the Black community may be far less inclined to close ranks around her, at least not as passionately. They need to discredit him now over Obama. The Democratic Party is critical to containing Black dissent. If they lose that control, it’s not just a crisis for the Democrats.

        I also think the attack on West may have something to do with Obama wanting to spruce up his legacy. It’s become clear that he wants to be remembered as a much more progressive President than he actually was. West’s carping really gets in the way.

        And, of course, Black Lives Matter is a problem in the making for the liberal establishment. They want to keep ownership of it and keep it contained by liberalism, and West is fly in that ointment also.

        Basically, there are all kinds of tactical reasons for getting rid of West, putting aside how much genuine animosity he’s generated with attacks on Obama and his “boot-lickers.”

      • wendyedavis says:

        I appreciate your spelling out those several possibilities, but you’ve also caused me to wonder that if his association with the BlackLivesMatter and the many character assassinations/concern trollings, might even signal that there may soon come some crushing blows to the movement, as during Occupy encampment days.

        Only one of the several reason for my Coincidence Theory is due to the fact that the first (as far as I know) BLM leaders was arrested in Pasadena recently and charged with terrorrism. That she was reported to have been released after paying her bail (it was oringinally $90 grand, but has dropped out of sight, makes me wonder.

        But seriously, I never knew the kind of power Brother Cornell represented to the Democrat gatekeepers. Toxic bunch of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

        I didn’t quite grasp all the commentry on Dix, RevCom.us, and all, but again, West didn’t seem to hide any of his associations with the #ShutDownA14 protests and civil disobedience. And good on him.

        https://twitter.com/hashtag/ShutDownA14?src=hash

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  20. bill wolfe says:

    Tarzie – I must say, your criticism is growing on me. This is an insightful piece of work, in some respects better than Glen Ford’s (I got here via Chris Floyd, who defers greatly to you, so that is a huge compliment). I’d say the “why now” has as much to do with derailing black rebellion as Hillary. Thanks.

  21. bill wolfe says:

    One more point – the attack grounded in individual pathology or character or behavior is sickening and you nailed that.

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  23. Interesting discussion here, but I’m a simpler person than other writers, it seems, with a simple question: would Cornell West be capable of leading a mass movement for change in this country? DEEP change for all those not ready to be enslaved — by anybody, including Obama, and certainly Hillary? Marches in the streets, more and more people crowding in?

    • Tarzie says:

      By himself, I would say no, but that’s all right. Black Lives Matter is deliberately not oriented around charismatic leadership.

      • Well, honest charisma won’t hurt anything . . . somebody, something’s gotta pull us all together. So thanks for your mental explorations. We’ll see what we’ll see.

      • Tarzie says:

        Charismatic leadership has its good side, but it also makes movements highly reliant on the continued involvement of the leader. I would like to see dissident culture get away from personality cults for all kinda reasons. Better to rally around principles than magic individuals.

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