The Ghosts of Obama’s Victims: How Liberals’ Attacks on Cornel West Expose Their Political Bankruptcy

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By Ben Norton
19 April 2015

In her 1987 autobiography, Assata Shakur characterized liberalism as a politically and morally bankrupt ideology, writing

I have never really understood exactly what a ‘liberal’ is, since I have heard ‘liberals’ express every conceivable opinion on every conceivable subject. As far as I can tell, you have the extreme right, who are fascist racist capitalist dogs like Ronald Reagan, who come right out and let you know where they’re coming from. And on the opposite end, you have the left, who are supposed to be committed to justice, equality, and human rights. And somewhere between those two points is the liberal.

As far as I’m concerned, ‘liberal’ is the most meaningless word in the dictionary.

Liberals’ constant attacks on Cornel West—one of the most important leaders in the US anti-racist, anti-imperialist, and economic, social, and environmental justice movements of today—serve as a reminder as to just how accurate Assata was in her assessment, made almost three decades ago. The Democratic commentariat seem to take pleasure in heaping scorn on the principled iconoclast, never failing to include as a header image on their articles a photo of the professor scowling, in a cheap attempt to portray the amiable, peace-seeking public intellectual as angry and impetuous.

In the latest of such shameless attacks, MSNBC analyst and avowed Obama defender Michael Eric Dyson published a 9,600-word article excoriating Dr. West, or, rather, “The Ghost of Cornel West.” Instead of attacking white supremacy, the Georgetown University professor invested a great deal of time and energy in carrying out a public attack on a leading voice in today’s civil rights struggle. Misrepresenting Obama

In a parenthetical statement in the essay, Dyson recalls a private discussion he had with Obama in the White House. Later on, he writes that, “Throughout his presidency I have offered what I consider principled support and sustained criticism of Obama,” and states he has “expressed love for Obama and criticized him for not always loving us back.” A quick look at the White House visitor records helps paint a picture of this cozy relationship.

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