The fury of unrequited love?
Corny West’s MSNBC Attack is Sour Grapes
“Deep down in his soul I think he really does feel a fire, but he can’t allow that fire to in any way spill over toward the White House. Why? Because he’s still too tied, he’s too uncritical, he’s too deferential, he’s too subservient as it were and as long as that’s in place we’re going to find ourselves unable to tell the fundamental truth,” Corny West speaking about the Reverend Al Sharpton, to his sidekick Tavis Silly.
In the latest revelation of Dr. Corny West we are told that Rev. Al Sharpton, host of the increasingly popular and critically important nightly MSNBC television show “Politics Nation,” is but an obsequious slave on “the Obama plantation.” Like those two mischievous trickster crows Heckle and Jeckle, Tavis asks Corny a question regarding the Trayvon Martian murder, “What’s your sense of how the media, and not just Fox News but beyond that, your read as you’ve been watching this, how the media handled this case?” To wit Corny, the consummate media whore, tells his partner in crime: ““I think that it’s been decrepit though, brother. I mean, you get a focus on some of the upper middle class folk. I mean, what I call the ‘rent-a-negro’ phenomenon on MSNBC.”
I guess when you are a lower upper-class cultural icon that can command $40.000 a speech to spout incoherent jibber jabber to adoring albeit clueless white audiences, and live in suites ensconced in posh hotels – as he did during his Harvard years when he dwelled in the Four Seasons– it is fairly easy to be contemptuous of “upper middle class folk.”
Yet like most supreme egotist Dr. Corny ignores the warning: “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” For he is the ultimate “Rent A Negro!” What does this guy take us for? Does he really believe that anyone who has watched him kiss Newt Gingrich’s ass on television – affectionately referring to him as “Brother Newt” – don’t know that he has long ago sold his soul…that Faustian bargains are routine transactions to him? Is Corny so drunk on the wine of hubris that he thinks his true intentions are invisible to us; that we don’t know he would run over his mother with a semi-trailer if it would gain him the spot on MSNBC now occupied by Reverend Al?
Can no one rid us of this vicious, duplicitous, bushy headed, gapped tooth, forked tongue, motor mouth philosophe? Jamaicans have a folk expression that pegs him just right: “The bwai mout run like sick batty.” In other words: Corny is spouting shit! Of all the important things in the world to write about, I find myself compelled to write yet another essay addressing the vicious folly of Corny: A man driven mad by vanity and envy.
I can think of no one who has fallen so dramatically in my estimation. Once I had nothing but love and respect for this guy and more than once sang praises unto his name….but that was before I discovered he was an intellectual fraud, an amoral megalomaniac whose allegiances are dictated by expedience and thus would stoop to anything to gain and maintain an audience and the perks they provide – from public adulation to increasing his coin.
Although I hold no credentials as a behavioral scientist, I am a serious observer of human character, especially public figures who aspire to the role of leadership, and I have gained some understanding of what drives them from both literature and life. Alas Dr. West seems addicted to the intoxications of celebrity, and his ravenous outsized ego fuels the delusion that he is so wise and good he is compelled to act as moral arbiter of the nation. That’s the most charitable explanation I can conjure for his bizarre behavior. An alternative view is that he is just an egomaniac and bullshit artist.
From Shakespeare, to Robert Penn Warren, to Chinua Achebe we are provided powerful portraits of the havoc created by the duplicity of men driven by vanity, avarice, envy, malice and blind ambition. Having met these characters in the fictions and dramas of these masterful painters of human life and character, I recognize them when I encounter them in real life and understand the roles they are playing. If Shakespeare was right and “all the world is a stage and we are but players upon it,” the question of this historical moment is what role is Corny West playing? Is he fool or villain? Ignoramus or charlatan?
Well, based on the clearly observable facts – Harvard man, Doctor of Philosophy, learned theologian, author of several published texts, Professor at great universities, highly compensated public orator – it is safe to say he is neither an ignoramus or a fool: Which leaves the charlatan and villain. This conclusion does not require the wisdom of a Sigmund Freud, it is a matter of simple deduction – although I would love to know what Dr. Freud would make of this verbose pretender to the role of national moral scold. A self-reverential town crier who is false to his profession, false in his stated objectives, and hopelessly confused in his historically appointed role.
Either Corny does not know who the enemy of progress and justice is; or he is a traitor to the people for whom he vainly claims to speak, people who continue to be denied both. Nobody in a position of power in the US is trying harder to change their predicament than President Obama! And one of his staunchest allies in this fight is MSNBC! As Harold Cruse noted a half century ago, in the geopolitical circumstances of the US, mass media is more powerful than the military in the struggle to influence mass political behavior.
Even a cursory glance at the media landscape will easily demonstrate the towering importance of MSNBC, whose role is indispensable to achieving the liberal left agenda. They are the first line of defense against the aggressions of the rabid right. And it is an understatement to say that they understand their role in the fight against the Tea Party Right, far better than does Phony Corny. This is demonstrated by the high quality of the information and analysis they put out compared to the hysterical confused gibberish we routinely get from Corny West.
The worst show on MSNBC, Morning Joe, provides a superior political education to anything we are likely to hear from Dr. West. Yet he refuses to play the critical role he is best suited for, leading an assault on the blasphemous theology of the so-called “Christian Right,” those impassioned bible thumpers who have made Jesus Christ the God of the greedy who trample on the needy; the God of billionaires rather than the meek that Jesus Christ said shall inherit the earth. If this is not blasphemy then such a thing has never existed in the world.
However most of the broadcast day on MSNBC is spent attacking and debunking the political expression of the Christian Right’s theology. And their efforts are nothing less than heroic. I can envision no other media venue where one can get the kind of information that equips American citizens to make intelligent political decisions in defense of the progressive agenda for the working classes and oppressed minorities than the nightly line-up on MSNBC.
Beginning with Chris Matthews, a feisty New-Deal democrat who constantly preaches the virtues of large scale government projects which will alleviate mass unemployment by rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. This is the only means by which the President can immediately address the jobless recovery; it is the classic cure for the ravages of economic depression prescribed by Dr. John Maynard Keynes, the prescient British economist whose brilliant mathematical formulations and policy recommendations rescued the world economy from the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
However this time we are dealing with a new phenomenon which was not much in evidence during the Depression of the 1930’s, what Keynes called “technological unemployment” and contemporary economist call structural unemployment. He predicted that this category of the unemployed would grow in the future. Well now we are living that future and most commentators on the unemployment problem don’t understand this phenomenon; that’s why they mistakenly blame President Obama. However he has proposed policies to deal with the crisis of structural unemployment but they are constantly blocked by the Republican mad men that control the House. (See: Can President Obama Cure the Unemployment Crisis? On this blog)
Chris Matthews is followed by a succession of left of center hosts that are even more uncompromising defenders of the liberal legacy, rooted in the achievements of the New Deal entitlements of the 1930’s and their extension in the landmark Civil Rights legislation and Great Society programs of the 1960’s. Al Sharpton is a direct descendant of the Civil Rights leadership of the 60’s, groomed as he was by the legendary Harlem Congressman Adam Clayton, Powell Jr., and the great charismatic revivalism of the Reverend Jesse Jackson, an activist Baptist Preacher and close comrade of Dr. Martin Luther King.
Under the tutelage of these two masters of the game, Sharpton learned how to play politics from the inside and the outside: how to be a “tree shaker and a jelly maker” in the coinage of the Revered Jackson. The former being a guy who shakes thing s up through direct action, and the latter helps translate those demonstrations into legislation.
I believe that Corny’s attack on Reverend Sharpton in particular is motivated by a transparent envy that arises from the fact that Corny is an intellectual snob who believes his Ivy League education and professorships better qualifies him for such a high profile position of media advocacy. This must be especially galling for this brazen egotist since they are both on the same side of the fence so to speak. After all, the things that Dr. Advocates is barely distinguishable from the things Sharpton has been fighting for his entire adult life.
Yet in the eyes of the pompous Dr. West – who wouldn’t even consider spending a year or two at a historically Black university, despite a personal plea from the distinguished Afro-American journalist George Curry, when Harvard kicked his butt to the curb with good wishes on his budding hip hop career – Reverend Al is just a Jack Leg unlettered preacher who has somehow usurped a position that rightly belongs to him. I advance this view only as a suspicion, a theory of what motivates the behavior of the enigmatic Dr. West.
However, as in many other matters Corny is sadly deluded. Al Sharpton is far more effective in the role of television advocate/interviewer than Corny would be. The reasons why this is so are obvious: Al has mastered the art of the sound bite, which is essence of good television commentary, he is a longtime public advocate, and like the “old time black preachers” celebrated in James Weldon Johnson’s epic poems God’s Trombones, he has all the devices of eloquence at his command.
Reverend Al is followed in the line-up by Chris Hayes, a wonkish young journalist who gleefully assaults the most preposterous assertions of right/wing Republicans who have made a cottage industry of lying on President Obama. He is the newest member of the team, having replaced Big Ed, who moved his popular show to the weekends. Hayes is a well-informed and thoughtful advocate for the liberal left agenda whose erudition is matched by his passion. He is an excellent comrade in arms for anyone in the fight for progressive policies that address the plight of the working poor, middle class and full equality for everyone without regard to race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Dr. Rachel Maddow is a veritable fount of factual information. She has a crack research staff and every show is like a graduate seminar in public affairs. She is a powerful advocate for all the aforementioned issues and groups and is also the most powerful voice in the media regarding women’s issues and the struggles of the LBGT community.
She is a marvelous motor-mouth who can spew out weighty information at a machine gun pace, dropping science at the speed of thought while bewitching her audience with a devilish smile and infectious charm. There is no more able soldier in the struggle to defend liberal left values from the persistent attacks of the malicious ideologues on the right than Doc.
The Final Word from Laurence O’Donnell completes the lineup at ten O’clock, and the entire cycle begins again minus Al Sharpton’s “Politics Nation.” I must admit that I often wonder why this is the case, because when I miss the 6 o-clock broadcast I wish Sharpton was in the rotation so I could see the program later. Suffice it to say that in my view O’Donnell is the most interesting of all the television talking heads….and he may well be the smartest. A Harvard trained lawyer and writer, O’Donnell has also served as a congressional staffer.
Hence he brings an inside perspective to his analysis of the machinations in Congress that helps us to better understand how the political sausage is made. He is openly contemptuous of white racist arguments and does not suffer fools gladly. With an easy charm to match his easy erudition and wicked wit, Laurence O’Donnell is the kind of intellectual warrior I want to go to war with! The MSNBC lineup is a great way to end your day. There you will find an intellectual balm to heal the plague of ignorance that has infested the country and threatens paralyze the body politic and inflict lasting wounds on ourselves.
Despite Corny’s badmouthing this is the reality at MSNBC, and I invite anyone to challenge that assessment. I challenge Dr. West to address the question as to which network represents the greatest danger to Afro-Americans: MSNBC or Fox? And if he agrees with me – as he must – that it is FOX hands down, not even close, I’d like the learned Doctor to explain why he is not attacking FOX: whassup wit dat Corny? Now is not the time for shuckin and jiving Dog.
As I write MSNBC is having a series of discussions dissecting the multiple machinations of the Republican right to defund the Affordable Care Act, ass laws to stop Afro-Americans, Hispanics, et al from voting, nullify women’s reproductive rights, kill the Senate immigration bill, block important judicial appointments, examining the explanation of a juror in the Zimmerman case as to why she felt forced to vote for acquittal when in her heart she was convinced he was getting away with murder, etc. These people are doing the Lord’s work; they are a righteous crew, so why can’t our theologian recognize this?
We are in the heat of battle; the Supreme Court just gutted the Voting Rights Act and further crippled already hobbling Affirmative Action programs. The courts in Sanford Florida so interpreted the law the jurors felt forced to release a wanna-be redneck who hunted down and killed an unarmed black child – effectively declaring open season on black males in Florida – and this is all the evil work of Republicans.
The major advocates for these nefarious political forces is the FOX network; they are practically celebrating the release of the murderer, George Zimmerman, who told Sean Hannity that he felt killing Trayvon Martian was “God’s Will.” Why isn’t Dr. West, a learned Professor of religion, critiquing a Christian belief system that would lead to such a conclusion? Why is he not arguing that the slaughter of Trayvon is not God’s will but the work of the devil?
An even more pressing question is why is Dr. West aiming his guns at Reverend Sharpton and MSNBC, rather than Bill O ’Riley and FOX. A vulgar overbearing, megalomaniac and sexual harasser O’ Riley called everybody that protested the “not guilty” verdict in the Zimmerman case “a race hustler.” And he had the unmitigated gall to lecture the black community on our moral failings, demanding that we shut up about white racism and clean up our messy house. But the Sacramento motor mouth hasn’t said squat to these brazenly racist white boys. Rush Limbaugh has been going crazy spouting insulting racist drivel!
Nobody has pushed back on these verbal assaults from the racial arsonists on FOX like the commentators on MSNBC; even Joe Scarborough, a Florida Republican, has offered more potent critiques than Dr. West. The question is why; what accounts for this strange state of affairs? It is so bizarre the elements themselves seem out of kilter. Dr. West is behaving like a sheriff who rides into a town recently ravaged by cold blooded bandits…and orders his men to shoot the wounded!
Corny’s assault on MSNBC and Reverend Sharpton is a purposeful if puzzling act; far too clever and calculating to be mere happenstance or the work of a fool. As a witness to it all, observing the foibles and folly of this celebrated theologian, I cannot escape the feeling that we are witnessing not the incompetent bumbling of a hapless fool, although it often seems so, but the calculated deceptions of shameless charlatan and soulless villain. Driven by blind ambition fueled by envy, he might look and talk crazy…. But there is a method to Corny’s madness.
Is this Jigaboo Crazy or What?
He sure do look and talk crazy…but he just envious and evil!
Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
July 26, 2013