Sunday, September 24, 2023

Cornel West, President Obama who shall be silenced.

May 31, 2012 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( Michael Cottman at Black America Web wrote an interesting article about Cornel West and his on-going disagreement with the Obama Administration.   Cottman seems to feel that West is “obsessed” with President Obama, like a stalker baby’s mama seeking out another dollar of child support.   Cottman even goes as far as reducing West’s disagreement with Obama to a disappointment about inauguration tickets.  Says Cottman:

There was widespread speculation that West was upset because he didn’t get a ticket to the inauguration after campaigning hard for Obama in 2008. For West, it seems, Obama can’t do anything right: He’s not black enough. He isn’t doing enough or poor people. He lacks foreign policy experience. He doesn’t listen to black folks.  

What’s most interesting about Cottman’s “analysis” of Professor Cornel West is that he forgets that Cornel West’s so-called obsession with President Obama is only exceeded by the obsession of those willing to protect Obama, even when he’s wrong.  Professor Cornel West has a legitimate right to critique President Obama, largely because, among other things, he helped get him into office.  He  is also in the company of great men, like Martin Luther King Jr., whose “Poor People’s Campaign” was the last venture of his life.    Similar to King, Cornel West is the target of tremendous criticism from those who would prefer that poor people simply go away.  Obama, in fact, was the first Democratic President since Harry S. Truman not to mention poverty in the State of the Union Address. 

 There is nothing wrong with voting for President Obama, but to give support to a politician and then ask him for nothing is just an inch short of maniacal buffoonery.  It’s interesting that having voted for President Obama is not enough; some feel that you must be in love with him.   Protecting politicians like they are members of the family is simply bad politics, and makes you the laughing stock of those who understand how the game is really played. 

Rather than addressing the critiques that Professor West has brought to the table, Obama-ites (those who feel that no one has a right to openly challenge the president’s policies) focus on the fine print of Cornel West’s media campaign, the sentence where he mentions the inauguration tickets, thus using that comment to invalidate a long list of legitimate issues Cornel mentions.  This disingenuous way of evaluating Cornel West’s words is one of the many parlor tricks used by the African American attack dogs propped up by MSNBC to keep African Americans in line without actually giving them anything:  Why should I convince you to support me by offering you something, when I can discredit alternative viewpoints instead? 

I wonder if all of the liberals who’ve critiqued the president’s positions on gay marriage, women’s rights, immigration, etc are also considered to be “obsessed” with the president?  It seems that the Obama Administration becomes “obsessed” with the black community around election time (when they need us to show up to the polls), but doesn’t pay much attention to our key issues at any other time.  In a free society, should we not all be “obsessed” with pushing our political leaders (including President Obama) to do the job that we sent them to Washington to do?  This is especially true of any politician expecting exceptional loyalty from the African American community.  Speaking up and using your voice is one of the most important rights you possess in an allegedly free democracy, and we can’t give up these rights for anyone.

Would critics of Cornel West be happier if he simply remained silent and chose not to speak about poverty, the deaths of black teenagers, mass incarceration or black unemployment?   Obama remains silent on these issues, but speaks to the concerns of other communities, which has allowed him to be co-opted by Newsweek as “The First Gay President.”

Obama-ites, your decision to enforce silence in the face of meaningful critiques has caused you to be ridiculed, as your hero has been strong armed into appointing a  Harvard alum (Elena Kagan) to the Supreme Court without even considering a black woman for the job.  It has led to Obama boldly speaking on behalf of gay and immigrant communities, while your fathers, brothers and husbands remain products of the prison industrial complex.  White folks are experiencing an economic recovery, while black unemployment remains at levels that would never be acceptable to the rest of America.  All the while, your president says that “the rising tide will lift all boats” and you just smile and marvel at how beautiful Michelle looked at the Beyonce concert.

Do you believe, for one second, that Democracy is made stronger by shutting down all dissenting voices?  Perhaps you also believe in White Supremacy 101, which means that Bill Maher can criticize President Obama nearly every week, but Cornel West can’t do the same thing.  This week, Maher made the remark that President Obama “couldn’t be less threatening if he were Trayvon Martin.”  If Cornel West had said the same thing, the Obama-ites would be up in arms.   Only Colin Powell understands how to offer support for President Obama without being a relentless cheerleader; he knows that unconditional support only weakens your negotiating position, which is why he has what is arguably the most valuable individual endorsement in the United States.

Rather than trying to get Cornel West to stop talking about poverty, how about seeing if Obama is willing to do something about it? Rather than asking Dr. Cornel West not to mention mass incarceration and inadequate inner city schools, why not review the Obama Administration’s policies on the issues?  Killing the messenger doesn’t squash the validity of the message.  Also, West was fighting for the black community before Obama came on the scene, and he will be battling for African Americans long after Obama has left the White House and retired with the other Harvard alums to Martha’s vineyard.

The critical point here is that supporting President Obama is fine.  But if there is anything that Bill Maher, Andrew Carvill, Paul Krugman or Chris Matthews can say that Cornel West cannot, then you’re being every bit as racist as the liberals who control your thinking.   Every man and woman has the right to form their own opinion, even if it is an uncomfortable truth.

Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition. For more information, please visit


10 Responses to “Cornel West, President Obama who shall be silenced.”
  1. Leslie Karen Oser says:

    Thank you for honor and integrity. I am in total agreement with your position.
    I have heard that the Obama administration has a special unit that pays people to comb all media and respond to any negatives by upholding the Obama viewpoint. Immunique could be one of them. Interessting.

  2. nevadasmith says:

    This is going to be very tight Presidential race.It is Time to “Deal” when maximum political advantage can be taken. I did grow up in the sixties ,so I have seen it all.This Government supports Afghanistan’s President Karsai,his brother being the biggest Heroin Dealer in the world.The South American and Mexican Economies are doing just fine with all the Cocaine money they have made off the USA.In Miami,condos go briskly to South American buyers.Paul Krugman,Nobel Prize winning Economist and writer for The NYT,asserts in “Conscious of A Liberal”,that well paying Union Jobs were removed as soon as it was The Minorities turn to get those jobs.NAFTA,Jobs for Canadians and Mexicans.ETC,ETC.
    If The Incumbent President is not taken to task now–If not now when?-He is a power hungry,ambitious opportunist.He has given Goldman Sucks and George Soros
    what they wanted.It is Time to get Yours. Time To Get Real !

  3. nevadasmith says:

    The Next Presidential Election Cycle Will Be Too Late
    I am an admirer of Professor Cornel West.He speaks truth to power.There has to be a “quid pro quo”.Something has to be given back in return for your support.I have suggested,an appointment of Dr. Michelle Alexander “The New Jim Crow”.I have thrown my support to that “Older” Republican,why ? Because at least he has spoken out about the prejudicial application of The “War On Drugs” i.e.The “War On People”.I wonder how and why LBJ’s War On Poverty morphed into Nixon’s War on Drugs ?Besides ending The War/Holocaust on Drugs,a Restoration of Rights and an expungement of criminal records if not some reparations to the victims from the profiteers of the “spoils of war”.
    We have all been had ! Bamboozled! Time to take back and by Any and All means necessary. Next Presidential Election Cycle Will Be Too Late.
    We are way down the slippery slope now. Both Tavis Smiley and Professor Cornel West are Honorable Men.They Talk,I listen.

  4. James Davis says:


    We appreciate you voicing your opinion and I hope you extend the same courtesy to us. Being informed works for all of us. The proof however of whether the programs of this President are working is in the numbers. Unemployment increased to 8.2% from 8.1% today. Guess who got hit the hardest – you would be right if you said the brothers and the sisters. It is not that we don’t want to see this President re-elected, we simply want him to address some of our problems more directly. If we don’t ask, do you think anything will happen? By the way the American Jobs Act did very little to alleviate high unemployment. Go to

  5. Imunique says:

    Every time I read one of these articles I sit quietly and meditate on certain statements that are bodly made against the Black Conmunity for supporting our President. I loathe the fact that certain mouth pieces out there think that they can speak and think for the black community. I don’t need a voice to speak for me because I’m bold and intelligent enough to walk my own journey. You may not agree with my support of the President and I could care less but I take the time to measure a mans accomplishment. The American Jobs Act, read it, it includes the African American Families, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, read it, it again includes African Americans, I’m beginning to wonder whose really blind and just have complaints without research. The president has done a great job in making sure he supports all Americans during this recession. Most of us who supports him supports him by the effort he has put forth in addressing the issues we face. I understand that when you put things into action, su
    Sometimes that take roots and grow quickly and sometimes it struggles to take root and grow and during that slow growth, we may not see a tsunami effect right away but I personally do see results. Not because he is black but because of the action that he had taken to address the issues. I suggest that the voices like Cornel West and others realize this, I for one see the sickness in your statements to suggest that you are my savior and body guard for black America, please don’t insult me! You want to be my mouthpiece but want to trash the President because I support him! Listen up all the do call black leaders of yesterday, Looks like your Black America are smarter than you gave them credit for and you insulting their intellect for supporting our President is driving a deeper wedge between you and us! No one sees you guys as relevant with your constant berating and insulting our intelligence. One thing the bible says is that “a man he sets free is free indeed!” and that means Black America are free to think for themselves, always has been, so stop appointing a leader, we are our own responsibility!

  6. DG says:

    James, the solution to the Black incarceration rate has already been put forward for Obama. Eliminate the war on drugs. Focusing on that alone by the President would get him a pass from me.

  7. James Davis says:

    We All Hear You!!

    Solutions! Solutions! Solutions! When are we going to hear about some solutions. The gay movement may have had some success because they offered President Obama an option that appeared to him to be resaonable and could work in his best interest. He moved on it.(Whether it was right or wrong is a topic for another discussion.)Where are our solutions to long term job creation? Where are our solutions to the high prison incareration rates? We have a Black Caucus and advocate groups stuck in the 1960’s and 1970’s when it comes to solutions to addressing some of our most vexing problems. Their solutions are more federal spending without showing clear evidence programs of the kind they are advocating really work. If we at least put reasonable solutions on the table, we can than argue with some strenght, “Why is this President not putting these solutions in action.” We continually complain without coming forth with reasonable and doable answers. I personally would like to see more articles about Mr. Obama refusing to adopt reasonable solutions, put forth to problems vexing the black community. Now that will give us something concrete to fight with him about. If the solutions are reasonably doable, and he rejects them, we than see Mr. Obama for what he is. It then becomes clear to everyone, without anyone having to show us, what is his true character.

  8. Lonnie Radcliffe says:

    Dr. Watkins has brilliantly and correctly stated the valid position that President Obama should not be placed on some kind of imaginary pedestal above criticism. Similarly, it is amazing that black folks continue to hold fast to the mindless hero worship of a president who has failed to give his most loyal supporters- black people- even most minimum lip service. In short, President Obama continues to treat his most loyal supporters like a pimp treats his whores.

    KUDOS to Dr. Watkins for a brilliant commentary and presentation of the truth.

    Lonnie Radcliffe

  9. EMA says:

    Thank to those that continue to ask why should black people support a president who does nothing for them and a party that does nothing for them.

  10. DG says:


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