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Excerpt: "Fitting in, in a neoliberal world, is to be well adjusted to injustice. I'll give you an example: Dear brother Ta-Nehisi Coates has just come out with a new book."

Professor Cornel West. (photo: VICE)
Professor Cornel West. (photo: VICE)


Cornel West: I Refused to Be a Darling of the Liberal Establishment

By Audie Cornish, The New York Times

09 December 17

 

fter nearly a year of the Trump presidency, do you regret your criticisms of Barack Obama? Oh, no. I told the truth. When I said drone strikes are crimes against humanity, when I said Obama bailed out Wall Street rather than Main Street — I shall forever support that. I was just speaking to the reality that people are hurting, and we have to do the same thing under Trump as we did under Obama.

Do you feel as if the black community punished you for that? I think most black people disagreed with me, but they didn’t call for my punishment. They just disagreed in terms of the timing and the intensity of it. But somebody’s got to tell that truth and be pushed to the margins no matter what — every generation has it, and I don’t mind being it.

In the original introduction to “Race Matters,” you wrote that there was a crisis of black leadership. Now we’re seeing this whole new generation of black activists: Black Lives Matter, or even N.F.L. athletes taking a knee during the national anthem. Do you still see this crisis? Well, I was talking about the crisis of black elite leadership. When it comes to black leaders, if the model is to be successful but not publicly attack white supremacy — well, then that’s really about success to fit in. Fitting in, in a neoliberal world, is to be well adjusted to injustice. I’ll give you an example: Dear brother Ta-Nehisi Coates has just come out with a new book.


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+32 # bread and butter 2017-12-09 14:03
Sorry. But there is no liberal establishment. There's a Democratic establishment, but it isn't even close to being liberal.

In America, by definition, "liberal" means NOT establishment.

Cornell West should know better than to equate the Democratic Party with liberalism.

We have president Trump, because the CONSERVATIVE establishment of the DNC refused to allow a level playing field for a liberal candidate to represent us, and who would have defeated Trump.
 
 
+6 # RLF 2017-12-10 06:03
And the Democrats are still cleansing the party...they're rid of All Franken now...a possible future Bernie type for president. Out of Schumer's way. Democratic party are no different than the Repubes.
 
 
+7 # librarian1984 2017-12-10 10:41
Franken was NOT a Bernie type. He was corporate. He was a superdelegate who voted for Hillary despite MNans delivering a victory for Sanders.

According to two Hill reporters on CSPAN recently there are approximately 40 ongoing investigations into Congressional misconduct. They did not specify party counts or charges.
 
 
-4 # ericlipps 2017-12-10 11:00
Quoting bread and butter:
Sorry. But there is no liberal establishment. There's a Democratic establishment, but it isn't even close to being liberal.

In America, by definition, "liberal" means NOT establishment.

Cornell West should know better than to equate the Democratic Party with liberalism.

We have president Trump, because the CONSERVATIVE establishment of the DNC refused to allow a level playing field for a liberal candidate to represent us, and who would have defeated Trump.

Hogwash.

(2) "By definition, 'liberal' means NOT establishment." What, then, DOES it mean? Its generally accepted meaning is that it IS part of the "establishment" but is seeking reform, as opposed to "radical," which means willing to tear the whole system up by the roots.

(2) Certainly the Republicans associate the Democratic Party--yes, even Hillary Clinton--with liberalism, which to them means anything not devoted to strengthening the power of the political right, including crank Christian fundamentalists who think evolution is "straight from the pit of Hell' and are eagerly awaiting the Apocalypse. (Think: Mike Pence.)

(3) Bernie Sanders doesn't call himself a liberal; he calls himself a socialist. If he had been the Democratic nominee, a terrified electorate would have fled to Donald Trump. Not everyone, but enough to give him the popular-vote landslide he claims he actually won.
 
 
+1 # bread and butter 2017-12-10 13:36
You waste too much time on semantic games.
 
 
+2 # PCPrincess 2017-12-11 22:40
On your point # (3) - Hogwash.

Bernie would BE our president now and the majority of us who now spend our days pursuing ways to alleviate our ever-increasing anxiety at the constant barrage of craptastic news stories about the Trump Administration, would instead be preparing for the holidays and filled with hope instead of trepidation.
 
 
+3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-12-10 13:10
B&B -- I agree with you. Liberalism is dead. There used to be a "liberal establishment" in the nation. It generally stood for the social welfare programs -- i.e., unemployment insurance, civil rights, anti-war, full employment, labor unions, strong public schools, environmental protections, healthcare for all, social security, and so on. Establishment liberalism in the US was the counterpart to the democratic socialism in Europe. It was powerful from the 1930s up to the 80s and the rise of the "third way" with Bill Clinton. Perhaps the best known in the liberal establishment was Robert F. Kennedy. He did not start this way but he grew into it.

I remember in the campaign between Daddy Bush and Bill clinton in 1991, Bush's big theme was "liberalism is dead." He kept calling Clinton a liberal. Clinton kept running away from that term and disavowing it. From that point on, "liberal" became a toxic term. No one would claim to be a liberal. They found other terms -- progressive, democrat, and so on but these really meant "I am not an establishment liberal."

There are some of these old style liberals still around. Sanders is one. There's a lot of attraction to it. But there is no formal movement or political party home for liberals. The republicans are hard right wingers. The democrats are less hard right wingers. the Greens are old style liberals but they are not a powerful political force.
 
 
+1 # kyzipster 2017-12-10 14:27
There are plenty of registered Democrats who are liberal, the votes for Sanders in the primary is a pretty good indication of percentages. The DNC is not liberal, Democrats in Congress are not a liberal majority, there are a handful of exceptions. I've seen evidence of quite a few liberals in local politics where we're seeing aspects of Sanders agenda gaining ground. A living wage passed easily at the local level around the country, even in my hopelessly red state, Trump country. A move towards universal healthcare in CA and it was on the ballot in CO where it failed. Largely because they provided no analysis of cost and benefit. Cheap or free college in SF and NYC I believe.

I think your take is a bit simplistic, we shouldn't define the whole party by focusing only on Obama, the Clintons, etc, but West could have clarified a bit.
 
 
+26 # LionMousePudding 2017-12-09 18:42
More. West is an extremely smart man and the kind of person I can be proud to say I share a nationality with. And honored.
 
 
+3 # librarian1984 2017-12-10 10:47
CSPAN is running a show called In Depth. This week features Dr. West and his longtime dear friend, Robert George, a conservative ethicist and professor.

The two of them together are adorable, leaning into each other and finishing each others' sentences.

If you don't catch it this week you can undoubtedly find it on their web site.
 
 
+19 # Margolicious 2017-12-09 19:27
I agree with you. The few good things that Obama did Trump is undoing. Bill Clinton continued Reagan's policies with NAFTA, getting rid of Glass-Steagall that caused 2008, cutting welfare and the safety net funds. Children are being born into poverty and starving thanks to Trump and Clinton. However, Trump is destroying this country with his tax scam bill and the criminals that he put in government posts that are polluting the environment, privatizing public education, eliminating net neutrality and low-income housing, taking away freedoms, eliminating jobs, robbing from the middle and poor, ruining the lives of immigrants,Musl ims, gays, and women and propagating and encouraging racism, provoking nuclear wars in the middle east and North Korea, etc. We need to resist, protest, and protest Trump and congressional Republicans that are passing laws that ruin us.!!!
 
 
+3 # kyzipster 2017-12-10 14:44
I think that people like Cornell West have a much bigger impact when Democrats are in power. When Republicans are in power we're so focused on fighting back against their extremism and destruction, little else is heard.

On a much larger scale, Occupy Wall Street was impactful because Obama was in the White House. It proved that it was non-partisan, or beyond partisanship. As much a critique of the Dem establishment as the GOP. It's seen as ineffective by many people, even on the left, because of the media coverage but I think it had a huge impact in ways that aren't easily measured. I think coverage of class warfare and income inequality became more pronounced in the media and it's a well established angle today. Very little prior to OWS. I think it may have paved the way for Sanders' message and he's still gaining ground, he's working very hard. Change can be slow.
 
 
0 # droth1952 2017-12-10 19:41
"Progressive Democrat" is an oxymoron.
 
 
-1 # LionMousePudding 2017-12-13 02:29
You disrespect every Progressive who has stayed in the Democratic party, for whatever reason. You have no standing and no right.
 
 
+1 # elkingo 2017-12-11 02:05
West makes so much sense it is hard to stand it. The final index is how people are made to feel (being droned ain't so nice) and no one else fixes so squarely on this. It is called uh, compassion. And Obomber, for all his charm, was part of the global fascist government culture. (Read capitalism).
 
 
+1 # elkingo 2017-12-11 02:14
Yeah, well change better be fast, before Trump and Co. kill the world. The OWS kids and the rising women against sexual abuse are the only visible currents to revise culture away from planetary suicide. Needs a planetary state and global socialism. The entire rest of "traditional" politics and economics are bullshit, and must be abandoned for the sake of survival,let alone decency.
 
 
0 # Caliban 2017-12-12 19:20
"Needs a planetary state and global socialism": No doubt, but MUCH easier said than done.
 

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