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During an interview on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, Dr. Cornel West made it plain that President Barack Obama does not belong on a t-shirt with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.


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Dr. West once again discussed President Obama’s war crimes and contrasted them with King’s legacy of anti-war, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist positions.

Standing firmly rooted in Black liberation theology, just as Dr. King before him, Dr. West takes every opportunity to disrupt the narrative that, outside of both being gifted orators, President Obama and King are at opposing ends of the spectrum—even if they both received Nobel Peace Prizes.

Gonzalez asked Dr. West to give his take on Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize speech remarks where he invoked the legacy of Dr. King, while maintaining that his position as President of the United States of America means that he has to show a willingness to use force against perceived enemies.

Read what Dr. West had to say below:

Barack Obama was talking about the centrality of political calculation tied to national security interests, usually the interests of big banks, big corporations and the military arms industry, whereas Brother Martin was a grand critic of empire in the name of the precious humanity of poor people and oppressed people. So you get a major clash. And in the end, it’s all about the actions. In the end, Barack Obama commits war crimes in Somalia and Yemen, commits war crimes in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And Martin Luther King Jr. tries to keep the spotlight on the war crimes, to keep track of the innocent children who were being killed, the innocent men and women who were being killed. So you get a major clash. And that’s why I tell my young brothers and sisters, when they walk around with this little sweater of Martin, Malcolm and Barack Obama, I say, “Please. That’s like Coltrane and Sarah Vaughan and Pat Boone.” He’s a very different tradition. We love Brother Pat, but he doesn’t belong on that shirt. And Barack Obama does not belong on that shirt. Let’s be clear. Let’s keep track of the prophetic fire of those on that shirt. Unbelievable sacrifice.

As previously reported by NewsOne, Dr. West has said that President Obama did not deserve to be sworn in using Dr. King’s Bible because the president’s actions are in direct contradiction with the principles and beliefs of Dr. King:

“Brother Martin Luther King, Jr., what you say about the New Jim Crow? What would say about the Prison Industrial Complex? What would you say about the invisibility of so many of our prisoners, so many of our incarcerated, especially when 62 percent of them are there for soft drugs and not one executive of a Wall Street bank gone to jail. Not one. Martin doesn’t like that. Not one wire-tapper, not one torturer under the Bush Administration — at all,” said West.

“Then what would he say about the drones on the precious brothers and sisters in Pakistan, and Somalia, and Yemen. Those are war crimes, just like war crimes in Vietnam, Martin Luther King, Jr., what would you say?”

Read and listen to full Democracy Now interview here.