Wednesday, April 4, 2007

With All Due Respect...

There is something both liberating and defeating about having to criticize ones hero. This afternoon, while at work, a very close friend of mine sent me a YouTube clip titled, "Cornel West on Obama".

(Cornel on Obama:

For those of you who know how much I admire both Professor West (I started this blog is his honor) and Senator Obama, you can imagine how excited I was to finally hear my hero (West) opine on my vicarious mentor (Obama). What I expected to hear was my deep personal affection for and biased opinions on Obama affirmed and articulated by the master thinker and wordsmith, Cornel West. Instead, I was subjected to a disappointingly narrow-minded 3 minute diatribe on race loyalty and politics. At the end of the clip, I sat stunned and in complete silence at the ignorance of Professor West's comments. For some reason, I never imagined that my idol, Cornel West, was susceptible to the psychological pitfalls of race-think and intellectual hubris.

You see, Cornel West, to my great disappointment, appears to have temporarily forgotten the differences between a movement leader and a politician. The sort of courage, frankness and political assertiveness that he talks about in the clip can only be manifested in someone who does not have to build a national consensus to achieve their goal. Barack Obama is running for the highest office in the land and needs the vote of every American to succeed at his bid. Any pundit or moderately informed citizen could tell you that Obama cannot afford to pander to a particular demographic if he wants to win the presidency. As president, Obama will be called to represent ALL American's...not just those of the dark hues. How is it then that Professor West - author of the national bestseller "Democracy Matters" - failed to acknowledge this fact?

I love Professor Cornel West but I've got to call him out on his applause-seeking oversight. Professor West has been known to play to crowds in search of the spotlight and his comments on Obama at the State of the Black Union certainly reflect this tendency.

Professor West always encourages critical, independent thinking. So, forgive me Professor West, but with all do respect, I think you're dead wrong on Obama.