In Defense of Cornel West: Is Barack Obama Right, or Has Michael Eric Dyson Lost His Mind?

"Cornel West 2008" by Esther - originally posted to Flickr as cornel west!!!. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Cornel West 2008” by Esther – originally posted to Flickr as cornel west!!!. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Carl Dix and Lenny Wolff write in Revolution Newspaper:

This Sunday, the New Republic posted a vicious attack on Cornel West, “The Ghost of Cornel West,” by Michael Eric Dyson. This attack is not an academic dispute; it is a hit job against a deeply principled intellectual who refused to put away his critical faculties when Obama took office, who has increasingly stepped out into the struggle against murders by police and mass incarceration, and who has done so in a way that condemns and exposes the crimes—and yes, they are crimes—of the Obama Administration. All the sound and fury of Dyson’s long rant cannot hide that essential, and shameful, fact.

On one level, Dyson’s attack is beneath contempt and barely merits reply. But because principle and intellectual rigor are currently so debased in this society, and because powerful forces seem intent on promoting Dyson’s takedown of Cornel West, reply we must.

Instead of making a reasoned critique of Cornel West’s actual positions, Dyson vacuums up a toxic brew of speculation on personal motives, rumors, criticisms from all kinds of quarters (some of which he says he doesn’t even agree with), and out-of-context bits and pieces from West’s personal life (taking special advantage of moments where Cornel made himself vulnerable by confiding personal regrets), and then he spews this all over his readers. Dyson has combined this brew with mis-readings of key concepts developed and/or worked on by West (the rise of nihilism in the Black community during the 80’s/90’s, the role of prophecy as a strand in Black leadership, the relevance of jazz to intellectual undertakings, etc.) that are as superficial as they are willful. All of this is designed to overwhelm people’s critical faculties and hide the actual substance of what Dyson is attacking and defending. This is what passes for intellectual criticism in the era of reality TV. Let’s look at what Dyson says.

Read the whole article here.

A round table discussion of Dyson’s piece will occur this Wednesday at Revolution Books in Manhattan.

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OddEdges

Eliott Edge of OddEdges is an international lecturer, multidisciplinary artist, and author of ‘3 Essays on Virtual Reality: Civilization, Overlords, and Escape.’ Edge describes his alter ego OddEdges as “A prolific noösphere squatter spreading Awareness Awareness.”
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