Is anyone black enough for Cornel West?
Not only is West criticizing President Barack Obama at every turn, but now, for reasons that are unclear, West has taken aim at MSNBC, calling it a “Rent-A-Negro” network and then criticizing Rev. Al Sharpton for being on the “Obama plantation.”
“I think that it’s been decrepit though, brother. I mean, you get a focus on some of the upper middle class folk. I mean, what I call the ‘rent-a-negro’ phenomenon on MSNBC…’” West told his sidekick, Tavis Smiley, this week on Smiley’s radio program.
So every black person who appears on MSNBC is not a legitimate African American? Melissa Harris-Perry is a Rent-a-Negro? Eugene Robinson is a Rent-a-Negro? Karen Finney is a Rent-a-Negro? Sharpton is a Rent-a-Negro?
West, a former Princeton University professor, also complained that Sharpton is on “the Obama plantation”, which keeps Sharpton from criticizing Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.
And why is West so obsessed with references to slavery? Why does every black person who disagrees with West have to be labeled as an Uncle Tom or somehow associated with a “plantation,” or a Stepin Fetchit mentality?
Why can’t a black person who disagrees with West offer a different opinion without being called a sell out?
“Deep down in his soul, I think he really does feel a fire, but he can’t allow that fire to in any way spill over toward the White House. Why? Because he’s still too tied, he’s too uncritical, he’s too deferential, he’s too subservient as it were and as long as that’s in place, we’re going to find ourselves unable to tell the fundamental truth,” West said about Obama.
Here’s how West criticized Obama in an interview in 2011: “I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men. It’s understandable. As a young brother who grows up in a white context, brilliant African father, he’s always had to fear being a white man with black skin. All he has known culturally is white…When he meets an independent black brother, it is frightening.”
West has the right to criticize Obama, but that’s not the problem: It’s the way West has attacked the president in such a hateful manner that has caused some black Americans to question West’s reasoning and his bizarre behavior.
West’s comments about MSNBC and Sharpton come one day after West called Obama a “global George Zimmerman” during a rambling critique where West accused Obama of being hypocritical in his response to the Travyon Martin killing and George Zimmerman’s acquittal.
“We know anybody who tries to rationalize the killing of innocent people is a criminal,” West said in an interview with Democracy Now. “George Zimmerman is a criminal. But, President Obama is a global George Zimmerman because he tries to rationalize the killing of innocent children, 221 so far, in the name of self-defense… Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen. So when he comes to talk about the killing of an innocent person, you say, well wait a minute, what kind of moral authority are you bringing?”
West, the outspoken former Princeton University professor, says the Obama administration refuses to speak out against an American justice system that has destroyed two generations of black men and has contributed to what West calls “re-niggerizing” the black professional class.
“Five years in office and can’t say a word about a new Jim Crow,” West said. “And at the same time I think we have to recognize that he has been able to hide and conceal that criminalizing of the black poor as what I call the “re-niggerizing of the black professional class.”
Responding to Obama’s comment last week, “Trayvon Martin could have me 35 years ago,” West said: “You got these black leaders on the Obama Plantation, won’t say a criminal word about the master in the big house. Will only try to tame the field folk so that they’re not critical of the master in the big house.”
West is continuing his assault on Obama. In January, during Obama’s second inaugural ceremony, West criticized Obama for using Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Bible, calling Obama a “war criminal.”
West’s anger can be traced back to Obama’s 2009 inauguration where West said he couldn’t get tickets for the inauguration. He was also upset that Obama never called him.
“He doesn’t have time, even two seconds, to say thank you or I’m glad you’re pulling for me and praying for me, but he’s calling these other people. I said, this is very interesting,” West said in 2011 interview. “And then as it turns out with the inauguration I couldn’t get a ticket with my mother and my brother. I said this is very strange.”
What’s strange is how quickly West and Smiley turned on America’s first black president in such a hateful way, a man they praised repeatedly when I watched them at Howard University when Obama was running for election in 2008.
Back then, West couldn’t get enough of Obama. He posed for photos with him, showed up at many of Obama’s events, and hailed him as America’s next great leader.
But today, West just seems hostile, petty and filled with hate. It’s no way for a scholar to behave and it sets a terrible example.