Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cornel West on "Obama's Deception"

Cornel West Shakes Obama's Hand in 2010

Professor Cornel West on Obama:
He is “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats. And now he has become head of the American killing machine and is proud of it.”
I must admit that I stopped listening to folks like Cornel West around the time they were carrying presidential candidate Barack Obama around like their political messiah, a black Jesus even.

West is an academic of no small repute and a fierce thinker who fell for the crap that Obama and his machine sold to war-weary and soon to be broke and unemployed Americans.

Why was West not paying attention when Obama walked all over his pastor and spiritual mentor, Pastor Jeremiah Wright?  West and many of his high-profile black intellectual cohorts were wrong on Wright.

You may disagree with the vapid race discourse that led to Obama's public walk-away from Wright and his black church but it should have signaled the Obama character underneath all that sh*t about a new day and its "Yes We Can" delusions.

A few of my friends and colleagues called my views on Obama racist.  I referred to him, and still do, as an Uncle Tom and a sell-out and that did not sit well with many, particularly the post-race theorists of the "can't we all get along" kind.

I had been watching him long before he was even a national figure.  I remember a day, in particular, when a white graduate student from Alabama came to my office to speak about Obama and the promise the then Junior Senator held.

She was gushing and telling of speeches he gave that were aimed at retrieving the lost American soul and its ideals of justice and equality and world peace.

Part of coming to see me was getting my adviser blessing to quit graduate school and her job and trek to Obama's land to stump for his presidency.

"What do you think of him," she asked in a small office decked with revolutionary posters of figures who knew the contours of struggle and were not defined by corporate machines and interests.

"I think he is a duplicitous, deceiving, and an ass-kissing Uncle Tom," I said with all sincere honesty.

The student was shocked.  "But you are a professor should you not have a deeper and more careful view?" she insisted.

"I do," I replied.  "And what is that?" she asked in anticipation.

"I already told you but I omitted a few expletives I normally include," I said with a straight face.

My view of Obama has not changed.  I never expected he could become president because I thought the white electorate would see him as a black threat to whiteness.  I was partially right on that count if one considers that he never won the majority of white votes.

In race terms Obama divided America even further and has dealt a death blow to black/brown/poor white struggle.

And for that reason corporate America and deluded and capitalized liberals anointed this fool to the presidency and in so doing he became exactly what those like West thought he would not be.

But why would West have got it so wrong?

If you read Chris Hedges article you may see a little glimmer of the reason why.  In great part it is because West like other progressive liberals did not have the foresight and political depth to know that a black liberal is a white liberal in political terms.

When black radicals bemoaned the fact that this Uncle Tom came from a blended family with primarily white values they were called reactionary racists.

When the same folks questioned his lack of connection to a slavery past they were dismissed and in so doing the very basis/foundation of what it means to be black in America was thrown out the window.

West should have known that a black man drawn from a white world cannot be tied to the ideals of revolutionary struggle in the way that Malcolm X or even Dr. Martin Luther King was.

In his last days before he was assassinated King was recalling that "promissory note" that white America owed to blacks and for that reason his movement that spurred the Civil Rights struggle was called into question and his life snuffed out under watchful government eyes.

Obama has laid waste to that "promissory note".  Black men are unemployed at greater numbers than their white counterparts across the educational divides and class lines.

The prisons are teeming with black and brown men serving time for victimless crimes.  Brown women are the fastest growing segment of the prison population while white women are still being employed as affirmative action candidates at numbers that dwarf those of black women.

In global terms this whiteness product will be remembered as the first black president to declare war on an African country and its people.

Is this the "Yes We Can" sh*t that sold Obama to the change-seekers?  How far is Obama from Bush in these terms.  At the very least even the beast Bush had an African foreign policy with some humanitarian dimensions.

We should welcome Cornel West home.  He will find that revolutionary black struggle is big enough to know that sometimes sons and daughters of the soil fall for the sh*t that the white/settler system sells as progressive change.

Obama is just like every other white president before him except for one growing distinction: He is the most conniving f*ck of them all.

This is my considered academic position minus the footnotes of course :0)

And we are not free.


Picture Credit


desert demons said...

Absolutely in agreement with you. It sickens me that now all the news channels are following him around like love-sick puppies since he murdered OBL.
I'm currently reading The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at home, war abroad by Tariq Ali and he argues pretty much what you've said in the post - that there isn't much difference between obama and any other american president before him. And as I said in one of my old posts: "Yes we can" f*#k up the world more!

P.S. Blogger is still being a bitch and my blog isn't working completely - let me know if you're able to view or comment since you're the only person who actually reads my rambles.

Ridwan said...

Thanks DD. I need to pick that book up too.

Obama is an absolute mess and it would mean nada to most of us if it weren't so tragic in consequence.

Blogger is driving me whack too. I hope your spot is not losing posts too.


Anonymous said...

Ridwan please let me be contrary once again, without again thinking I am hostile, because I'm not.

You paint a picture of yourself having been morally consistent throughout. This is of course a good thing to aspire to, but I can easily show that, like the rest of us, you are not.

When the wave of unrest reached Libya, you wrote of Ghadaffi that he is "the next despot to go". But when Libya was later attacked by the UK, US and France, you revised your estimation of him upwards, discovering a great anti-apartheid hero in him, and even hinting that the rebels were somehow wrong to seek their freedom.
I can only speculate about what kind of demons led you to be so inconsistent, but it was nonetheless disappointing to see, especially because it is entirely possible to be against war for regime change, and against the neocolonial way Anglo-American and French interests will benefit from this invation, without denying the evil role Ghadaffi has played in many African countries.

As for people like Cornel West, I think he must have given Obama a chance to do what is needed to get elected, because otherwise he would not have been able to do anything. Now that West acknowledges that Obama is disappointing, you write as if true black radicals should welcome West back - as if he had strayed somehow because he did not the power of prophecy. That makes no sense to me.

I think you should instead acknowledge that it is hard to be morally consistent in our politics, and that we can all get it wrong, even with the best intentions.

Ridwan said...

Alleman thank you for your comment. I do appreciate that you read here and comment too. I am being sincere.

I do not view your contribution as hostile but typically selective.

If you read me I have been consistent about Gaddafi. I am not seeking to be revisionist about him simply because the West (Nato) and its attachments have declared war on him.

I have written that he must be viewed as inconsistent and a despot as well as someone who supported liberation movements.

He is erratic at best and not representative of my politics (or values).

Nothing specifically moral about that stand or analysis. That you read it as such suggests to me that you think I would normally anti-West (perhaps white) and therefore "demons" have made me change my mind.

Which demons do you think I own or "aspire" to own?

I have not discovered Gaddafi or a "great hero" that is sensationalist baiting on your part.

You are right that one can be pro-democratic change in Libya and still protest the war by Nato on Libya.

That is where I stand. But he must go in a way that is consistent with international law and ethics.

Like him or despise him. He is still the sovereign leader of Libya and his people must decide via their processes and not the war of Obama and company.

I am curious whether you have read much of West's body of work?

His work was and is inconsistent with his buy-in on Obama.

A cursory reading of West will make it clear why you are confused.

I agree we get stuff wrong. I got Obama's election wrong and I voted for Mandela and if given a chance I would retract that vote today and do so with contempt for the movement that has grown around him.

Life is complex and I am not trying to play a game of morality here.

You are accusing me of that and that is another selective misrepresentation of my thinking.

So, really I don't expect that you can "easily show" me otherwise :0)

Nonetheless, thanks for stating your thoughts.