*Although he still regards Cornel West as one of the most intelligent guys around, Michael Eric Dyson believes his mentor has let his personal feelings on President Barack Obama dominate his current mind state.
In his story, “The Ghost of Cornel West,” Dyson goes in on West, writing that their 35-year friendship ended as West’s personal attacks on Obama have damaged his credibility and caused him to become a parody of his old self.
“It is not only that West’s preoccupations with Obama’s perceived failures distracted him, though that is true; more accurate would be to say that the last several years revealed West’s paucity of serious and fresh intellectual work, a trend far longer in the making. West is still a Man of Ideas, but those ideas today are a vain and unimaginative repackaging of his earlier hits,” Dyson wrote
In an interview with The Root, Dyson explained his reasoning for the story. In his eyes, “Something irrational is going on” with West, whom he feels has “obscured the sometimes powerful and sometimes luminous and other times legitimate critique” he may have.
It was the nastiness of the tone. The unprincipled assault. There’s a difference between that and ad hominem,” Dyson said Sunday (April 19).
“But when you weight it down under the burden of extraordinary, personal bitterness, it just wipes away all the good stuff that you might say and makes us question what it is about the motivation for your criticism in the long run.”
Dyson’s remarks allude to critiques West has made of him as well as Melissa Harris-Perry, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Despite criticizing Obama at various times, the Root noted that West has labeled them as “traitors of sorts, liars and opportunists” for opting to tow “the Obama administration line” and not coming down on the president fully in light of their respect for the office and the high regard many African Americans have for Obama.
As a result, West described Dyson and co. as “false prophets” considers his voice to be the only one able to speak up against Obama.
While West has compared himself to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dyson mentioned that his former friend is exhibiting some very un-MLK-like qualities.
“Martin Luther King never talked about people he disagreed with in the way West has talked about me or Melissa or Jackson or Obama. Martin Luther King didn’t even call the white racists he disagreed with those kind of names,” Dyson said.
To HEAR Michael Eric Dyson’s interview with The Root, check out the player below: