After perceived slights and political missteps by Barack Obama, scholar Cornel West has led an intractable one-man war against the president that has been punctuated by intraracial invectives, according to Michael Eric Dyson, the Georgetown University professor who recounts the end of his bromance with his friend and mentor in a trenchant piece at the New Republic.
As a result, West’s fulminating rage against Obama has hurled him from his once-vaunted position as one of the greatest intellectual thinkers and scholars of our time to a faded relic of himself, Dyson says, transforming him from knockout Mike Tyson into, well, biting Mike Tyson.
Dyson says the end of his friendship with West “is the collateral damage of his war on Obama.”
From the New Republic:
West’s aggressions brought me great sorrow. In his anger toward me I was forced, for the first time, to entertain seriously the wild accusations levied against him: that he was consumed with jealousy of Obama, that he simply couldn’t abide the rise of a figure who eclipsed most other black personalities for the time being and who, for many, even competed with King for recognition as the “greatest black man in American history.” I still don’t buy those theories, but I do think West’s deep loathing of Obama draws on some profoundly personal energy that is ultimately irrational—it’s a species of antipathy that no political difference could ever explain. It is sad to think that West aimed at me because my criticism failed to comport with his shrill and manic dispute with the president; our lost friendship is the collateral damage of his war on Obama.
West has sacrificed friendships and cut ties with former comrades because he insists that only outright denunciation of Obama will do. It is a colossal loss for such a gifted man to surrender to unheroic truculence: If a mind is a terrible thing to waste, then the loss of a brilliant black mind is more terrible, more wasteful. At precisely the moment when we could use the old West’s formidable analytical skills to grapple with the myriad polarities that glut the political horizon, the new West, already in the clutches of a fateful denouement, has instead sought the empty solace of emotional catharsis.
If West was once Tyson in his glory, he is Tyson, too, in his infamy. Once great, once dominant, once feared, he is now a faint echo of himself. Like Iron Mike, West is given to biting our ears with personal attacks rather than bending our minds with fresh and powerful scholarship.
Do you think it’s too late for Cornel West to change his course? And should Obama invite him to a beer summit? Sound off in the comments.
SOURCE: New Republic | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty