Dr. Cornel West’s Courage Should Make You Proud

Dr. Cornel West

(Photo Credit: MTV)

Too many milquetoast Americans, especially Blacks, lack the courage to offer a substantive critique of President Obama.  With the national unemployment rate for Black people being 13.5%, one would think that more Blacks would be propounding their criticisms of President Obama’s poor record of creating jobs.  In many predominantly Black cities across the country, Black unemployment is twice as high as it is nationally.  Although one may not always agree with Dr. Cornel West, former distinguished professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and now Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary, one has to be proud of the courage he shows in his passionate criticisms of President Obama and his policies.

Dr. West’s accomplishments, brilliance, and academic work will forever make him one of the most important persons in American history.  He’s one of the greatest minds in world history.  Dr. West is one of the leading public intellectuals of our time.  As a responsible and effective public intellectual, Dr. Cornel West understands that he has a duty to speak truth to power.  He’s never been afraid to say and do things that might unsettle, unnerve, and unhouse people.

While many question the motivations of his vehement criticisms of Obama, the focus should be more on engaging in a discourse about the criticisms he proffers.  People who don’t want to enter into a conversation about his potent critiques of Obama simply desire to dismiss him as being bitter because Obama didn’t invite him to his first inauguration or first inaugural ball.  Well, after sponsoring and attending over 75 campaign events—many were located in brutally cold places—for President Obama, one would like to think that Dr. West would’ve received an invitation.  Dr. West has repeatedly stated that he’s not bothered by such an inane matter as not receiving an invitation.

One has to be proud of him for mustering the courage to take on some of the prominent liberals that have been given platforms by MSNBC to advocate for President Obama.  Dr. West asserts that MSNBC is a “rent-a-negro” network; that is, a liberal network that gives Black faces (e.g. Al Sharpton and Dr. Melissa Harris Perry) their own shows and/or allows them to make frequent appearances on other people’s shows in exchange for their puppy-dog loyalty to President Obama.  One person who is a stanch liberal and who has been friends with Dr. Cornel West is Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.  Dr. Dyson appears regularly on MSNBC and is a strong supporter and defender of Obama.  Dr. West contends that Dr. Dyson has “sold his soul for a mess of Obama pottage.”  Before Dr. Dyson became a frequent contributor on MSNBC, he was willing to critique Obama.  Now, he cannot find enough ways to praise Obama.

Dr. Cornel West’s record reflects a serious commitment to racial minorities, working people, and the poor.  He will not allow himself to be placed on the market for sale, as others have done for Obama.  West hasn’t let his black skin prevent him from criticizing President Obama appropriately.  Dr. West gives President Obama credit when he deserves it, but he’s never afraid to hold him accountable for horrible policy choices and his inattentiveness to the needs of poor and working people.

Dr. West has been on a “Poverty Tour” across the nation raising attention and support for the needs of the poor.  The poor is the only group in America without lobbyists in Washington, D.C.  West hopes to make the poor visible to President Obama and America.  His work to ameliorate the lives of poor people in America should be applauded and supported.

It’s not popular to be Black and say things in opposition to President Obama, but Dr. Cornel West isn’t willing to submit to the pressure of staying popular.  He’s working to hold President Obama, a man who has tremendous power, accountable to all Americans, especially the most vulnerable people in America: the poor.  For this, he should make us all proud.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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