Tavis and West Expose True Motives

                   Cornel West and Tavis Smilie Heckle and Jeckle: Two Trickster Crows

 Truth Crushed to Earth….Will Rise Again!

When I was a boy in Florida the old folks would say “Truth cometh in the morning.”  Well that was never truer than on this Saturday morning, as I awoke to the snarky voices of Tavis Smilie and Dr. Cornell West chattering away on my radio.  I had fallen asleep listening to the soulful blues infested voice of the late great Dinah Washington singing the Duke Ellington/ Juan Tizol tune “Caravan,” and awoke to a hear the dissonant sound of a sarcastic soliloquy fashioned in the fevered brain of Dr. Longhair, and pouring from his pie hole in a lava like flow of putrid bile.  He was joyfully engaging in his favorite sport: Obama bashing.

First, the fuzzy headed professor contemptuously ridiculed the President’s negotiating skills, trashing him for not being able to get the “Public Option” passed instead of congratulating him on the massive overhaul of the medical delivery system that he did manage to finess through Congress with consummate political skill.  This achievement is a major reason why a panel of presidential historians has already selected him as one of the top ten American Presidents.

Yet it was the Affordable Health Care Act – along with the president’s achievements in preventing the collapse of the world economy and ending the Depression at home; his diplomatic triumphs in signing a nuclear arms agreement with Russia that helped insure the survival of life on this planet in a very real way; plus ending two wars, etc – that prompted me to rate him even higher on the scale in the pantheon of American presidents. (See: The Real Barack Obama vs. The Reagan Myth” on this blog)

However what I personally find most galling about Cornel West’s criticism of President Obama is his smug assumption of moral and intellectual superiority.  Part of this of course can be attributed to the smug pretentions of academics that hold PhD’s from prestigious universities – a feeling that is enhanced if they hold professorships at such universities – but I remain at a lost to discover the source from whence the professor’s feeling of moral superiority over the President arises.

With the diligence of Diogenes in search of an honest man, I  perused the history of both men and found nothing in my interrogation of professor West’s record that would provide evidence to support his arrogant assumption of moral superiority over President Obama.  In Cornel West I see a talented intellectual who is well educated in his fields of religion and philosophy, and a gifted orator whose notoriety as a public intellectual is do more to his silver tongue and public relations skills that his intellectual gravitas.   He is a highbrow rapper who, like Little Wayne, has made a fortune playing to the cheap seats.

Conversely, Barack Obama is one of those rare special altruistic personalities who decide to spend their life in public service early on; addressing problems that will enhance the quality of life for their fellow citizens, and they purposely make choices about the type of education they will pursue guided by what they think they will need to become change agents through participation in the political process.

That’s why Barack chose the law, Constitutional law, because he thought it would best equip him to become an agent of change.  That’s also why his fellow Harvard man Dr. WEB DuBois chose the study of history, sociology and economics over a career as a philosopher, and was indifferent to the importuning of Harvard’s George Santayana, perhaps America’s most influential philosopher, to become his protégé – an opportunity West would have leaped at.

Dubois saw that those disciplines would better arm him in the fight to uplift his oppressed people.  And his educational choices led him to become one of the greatest Americans of the last century, and his ideas, scholarship and activism contributed mightily to the advancement of black people here and in Africa.  These are very special people; men like Barack and DuBois.  Indeed, Barack Obama has shown a consistent commitment to changing the plight of the poor and powerless throughout his adult life.

First there was his decision to take a job as a community organizer in the dangerous poverty pockets of Chicago – the people Harvard sociologist William J. Wilson calls “The Truly Disadvantaged” in his revelatory text by the same name.  Then we have Barack Obama’s legislative record in the Illinois State Assembly, and his record in the US Senate.  All of these records unambiguously demonstrate a consistent record concern for the least among us – the poor and the powerless. If you would like to examine President Obama’s legislative record in historical context, see the list at the end of my essay “Civilization or Savagery” on this blog.

Alas, Professor West and his doppelganger Tavis Silly inflicted a conversation on the audience about the looming budget sequester that was so lightweight it would be an act of generosity to call it simple-minded prattle.  Maybe it’s because these guys are in such demand they don’t have time to thoughtfully reflect on these complex issues…or maybe they are shameless charlatans and vulgar careerist who have entered into a Faustian bargain with Mammon and they will say or do anything that will help them achieve their true goal: making money.   I tend toward the former assumption; although it is clear that these guys are scrupulous about getting paid…and as much as possible. After all Cornel gets $30, 000 for a speech.

I see no record of self-less service and sacrifice on the part of West.  From all appearances he is doing just fine on Cloud Nine, spouting dangerous sophistry masquerading as political wisdom, while abdicating his proper role as intellectual  point man in the fight against the Religious Right; whose theology fuels much of the ideology of the contemporary Republican Party.  Instead he attacks what he thinks are President Obama’s moral failings; he even called the President a “war criminal” the other day- while simultaneously calling racist reactionary rednecks like Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich his “Dear Brothers.”

Transparent opportunist that he is, when Dr. West and sidekick Tavis Silly invited Paul Wykoff, Vietnam war combat veteran and head of an organization of Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, on the show to discuss the plight of veterans, they quickly tried to enlist the old soldier and political progressive into their persistent attack on the President and turn the conversation into a referendum against his leadership and policies.

Paul Reickoff

Paul-Rieckhoff - Iraq and Afghanistsn vets

 Spokesman for Iraq and Afghanictan Combat Veterans 

As West droned on in his annoying voice about the “Dronification of War,”using it to  continue his attack on President Obama, the conversation took an unfortunate for Dr. West and sidekick, exposing them for the lightweight blabbermouths that they are.     Rykoff first explained what it was like fighting on the front lines, since he is an ex-infantryman who saw combat.  He shocked them when he not only refused to denounce the use of drones – since he knows it will save American soldiers from risking life and limb to do the same job these robots do.

But the real kick in the head was when Wykoff said that President Obama was a very elightened leader on questions of war and peace.  He explained that the president had a sophisticated understanding of the technological options open to him as commander-In-Chief and were deploying them Solomonic wisdom .  He went on to say that more importantly President Obama has always pursued non-military options and prefers diplomacy to bombs because unlike many other people in Washington he understands that you cannot impose democracy in a country with bombs and bullets.

To hear Mr. Rykoff  tell it, President Obama is just about as enlightened and humane a leader as one could hope for in matters of war and peace.  Needless to say, I was on the edge of my seat with my ears cocked like a hound dog in anxious anticipation of the learned Dr. West’s response.  Would he acknowledge the possibility that he might have been wrong when he recently labeled the president a war criminal?   My wait proved to be in vain, as vain as Cornel West’s ego, for he  quickly changed the subject without comment.

West fared no better in trying to elicit Wykoff’s aid in painting an ominous portrait of the Africa Command’s mission on the African continent.   Wykoff saw nothing sinister in it, and only questioned whether we should be spending more money on developments at home.  After all, he was on the show to discuss the desperate plight of those who have bravely fought America’s foreign wars but are struggling at home.

I shall soon have more to say about what I think of drone warfare, and the Africa command.  But suffice it to say that in my view Dr. West’s position on drone warfare is neither intelligent nor morally superior to the Presidents; as he evidently thinks it is.  The more I hear from Cornel West the less convinced I am that he is a man of integrity, whose concern the poor and oppressed trumps his need for ego-gratification and the material rewards that accompany celebrity and intellectual notoriety in America.

Some of my colleagues have decided that he and Tavis are simply pimping off the misery of black people, the poor, the unemployed, and the economically distressed working and middle classes.  Since I once held Dr. West in high regard I don’t want to believe that he is that cold blooded.  I think Professor Bushy Bead is motivated by a combination of age old human failings of biblical proportions: Envy, Avarice, Ambition and revenge.  And these vices are fueled by combustible resentments of unrequited love.

If I had the ear of the President I would put a bug in his ear and hip him to how to handle this poot-butt professor; but since I don’t I’m forced to make a public plea: Please show this guy some love!  I would also tell him to consider President Lyndon Johnson’s strategy for handling that dangerous demagogue J. Edgar Hoover, who as head of the FBI, and thus had the capacity to create all kinds of problems for the President during a critical period of American history, when he was trying to do great things.

When Attorney General Robert Kennedy asked Johnson in exasperation, “Why don’t you just fire Hoover?”  To wit that wily old political player Lyndon Johnson responded: “Cause I’d rather have hoover inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in!”

Unrequited love is a Dangerous Thing
Cornel and Barack 
It leads to irrational destructive actions

 

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Playthell George Benjamin
Harlem New York
March 5, 2013 

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