It's official. Dr. Cornel West has "stepped in it" with his controversial comments about President Barack Obama. West's "petty" lambasting of the president over his alleged racial allegiances and confirmed racial composition have resulted in a Twitter war among scholars, a viral video that literally went to every corner of the blogosphere and the complete demolition of West's character in op-eds around the country.
Google News is listing more than 100 stories about the controversy, meaning that instead of dying down, interest in the story is actually amping up. With West in one corner and Obama in the other, new and traditional media are lapping up the conflict between two of America's icons — both loved and loathed by a wide variety of people for pretty much the same reason. The simultaneous embrace and rejection of blacks with intellectual and cultural capital, which challenges and confirms America's complex history with African-American intellectuals, is playing out for the whole wide world.
The onslaught of critiques of the chief critic, West, continued today with several media outlets letting him have it over his mean-spirited comments about President Obama. Check out what is circulating on the Web below:
The Miami Herald: A New Standard of Racial Correctness
"Those birthers really had it wrong. Not only was President Obama not born in Kenya, he isn't even black. This startling truth was revealed last week by Cornel West, the renowned professor of African-American studies at Princeton, who told a reporter that Obama is 'a white man with black skin.' " —Glenn Garvin; read more at the Miami Herald.
Jack and Jill Politics: Cornel West: 'My Dear Brother Barack Obama Has a Certain Fear of Free Black Men'
"Wow — so I guess someone had to take up Bill Cosby's sunglasses-wearing, elderly black man who shakes his cane at those bad ass kids in the front yard. Or whatever. I mean, could Cornel West, respected African-American academic, be less helpful than say, Donald Trump, in attacking the President in an unnecessarily racialized manner?" —Cheryl Contee (Jill Tubman); read more at Jack and Jill Politics.
The Boston Globe Editorial: Cornel West: Summers Was Right
"Any 'prominent and provocative democratic intellectual,' as West describes himself, should be pleased that a service employee could snag a ticket that a famous Ivy League talking head couldn't. But West's windbaggery shows the same self-involvement that soured his reputation at Harvard. Summers should be proud that he sent Cornel West packing to Princeton." —Read more at the Boston Globe.
Black Star News: Bitterly Ever After: Cornel West's Personal Attacks Against President Obama
"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." — Eric L. Wattree; read more at Black Star News.
Cornel West Is an Expert Showman but Nothing More: The Lead Huxster of the Ivy League's Takedown
"Cornel West, the Princeton professor of African-American studies who recently made some crude statements about President Obama, has never been much more than a six-figure entertainer, ready to bite the hand that pays him even while reaching for his check. He has never seen a microphone or television camera that he did not like." —Stanley Crouch; read more at the Daily News.
The Washington Post: Cornel West on Obama Is No Better Than a Birther
"Anyone who knows me, and knows me well, knows that I have little patience for the 'Blacker than thou' crowd. These are the self-appointed guardians of what it means to be black — a decidedly limited and ignorant perspective that has more to do with the accuser's insecurities than the alleged transgressions of the accused. And the leader of the pack these days seems to be Dr. Cornel West." —Jonathan Capeheart; read more at the Washington Post.
Center for American Progress: Race and Beyond: Playing the Dozens: President Obama Ignores Schoolyard Taunts From Jealous Professor
"When you dig down to the nitty-gritty, there's not much new or substantial in the ongoing beef that Princeton University's public intellectual Cornel West picked with President Barack Obama. It's an old-school game of “playing the dozens,” albeit an erudite version for an Internet-savvy audience … A week ago, West played the dozens on President Obama. In an interview with Truthdig blogger Chris Hedges, the loquacious philosopher described a personal and political pique with the president. 'I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men,' he said. And, he called him 'a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats.' Did West cross that line? Perhaps he has, if the resulting reaction in the blogophere serves as the game's referee. But I'm a bit more charitable toward West. Sure, West's bottom-line complaint about the president's policies (or lack thereof) that specifically address the dire situations in many black communities is worthy of public debate. And, yes, the good professor went awry in linking his personal issues with his public critique." —Sam Fulwood III; read more at Center for American Progress.
Fullwood offers the most lighthearted read of West's comments, likening his words to the dozens gone awry in the blogosphere. West's "bloody lip" is being inflicted by the media, who has clearly had enough of his pontificating. Crouch reduces West to a six-figure entertainer, while Wattree says that West's mind is "undisciplined."
Isn't it interesting that black male commentators are using stereotypes ascribed to black males to critique West, and diminishing his intellectual contributions in the process? Instead of a "bloody lip," in the game of dozens when one goes too far, West's virtual "bloody lip" is the result of blogosphere gone awry.
America's growing fascination with the West-and-Obama dispute is a new-media version of an old-media narrative: black folks, even those who should, not getting along. Spectators sit ringside, poking, prodding and instigating in hopes of seeing a real smackdown between West and Obama. How interesting is it that West seems to have played into many of the stereotypes that assail African Americans: "crabs in a barrel," "inability to work together" and the "black brute" — by uttering those controversial words about President Obama? How interesting is it that Obama is being let off the hook for his lack of action on behalf of the poor by those who feign to know better?
This isn't an episode of the Bold, the Black and the Beautiful, so we know that a Hollywood ending, in which both men reconnect, forgive and move forward, is not coming. But we do hope that this plantation narrative that is spiraling out of control in the new-media space will right itself and become a discussion about something meaningful — explicit policies to protect the poor — as opposed to an abundance of attacks on a brother, even West, who admittedly was dead wrong. Bashing West the same way that he bashed Obama is hypocritical and is not moving the discussion, the intellectual community or this country forward.
Read more at the Root.
In other news: 'Real Housewives of the Bible' DVD Coming Soon, and More.