Cornel West: ‘Sharpton is the Bonafide House Negro of the Obama Plantation’
Dr. Cornel West once again called Rev. Al. Sharpton a “house negro,” and accused him and President Barack Obama of “sanitizing” the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the 50th anniversary of the March of Washington, reports Mediaite.com.
“Brother Martin himself, I think, would’ve been turning over in his grave,” West said of the event. “[King would have wanted] people to talk about Wall Street criminality, he wants people to talk about war crimes, or drones dropping bombs on innocent people,” he asserted.
“Instead,” he lamented, “we saw the coronation of the bonafide house negro of the Barack Obama plantation, our dear brother Al Sharpton.” West then declared that Sharpton’s decline was “supported by [MSNBC analyst] Michael Dyson and others who’ve prostituted themselves in a very ugly and vicious way.”
The animosity between West and Sharpton is not new.
During an interview with Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman, West had some choice words for Sharpton, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, who he claims have been bought and paid for by the “Rent-a-Negro” network MSNBC. While the aforementioned scholars have been extremely vocal in their support of the Obama Administration, Tavis Smiley, who was interviewed along with Dr. West, said their support comes at the expense of critical thinking and a legitimate push for a Black agenda:
“…Lincoln isn’t Lincoln if Frederick Douglass isn’t pushing him. FDR isn’t FDR if A. Philip Randolph and Eleanor Roosevelt aren’t pushing him. LBJ isn’t LBJ if MLK isn’t pushing him.
“We don’t believe in making excuses. We believe that if [Obama] is not pushed, he’s going to be a transactional president and not a transformational president. And we believe that the time is now for action and no longer accommodation. But that doesn’t happen unless you’re pushed.”
Dr. West said that Smiley was just being “very kind,” and gave his opinion to Goodman, straight no chaser:
I love Brother Mike Dyson… but we’re living in a society where everybody is up for sale. Everything is up for sale. And he and Brother Sharpton and Sister Melissa and others, they have sold their souls for a mess of Obama pottage. And we invite them back to the black prophetic tradition after Obama leaves. But at the moment, they want insider access, and they want to tell those kind of lies. They want to turn their back to poor and working people.
While some may disagree with West’s verbal assaults on Sharpton’s character, his assertion that the March on Washington didn’t tackle imperialism or drone warfare — and that that fact would have been displeasing to Dr. King — is not far off the mark. In the words of Dr. King himself from his April 30, 1967 speech “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam“:
“I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today—my own government.”
“Been a lot of applauding over the last few years. They applauded our total movement; they’ve applauded me. America and most of its newspapers applauded me in Montgomery. And I stood before thousands of Negroes getting ready to riot when my home was bombed and said, ‘We can’t do it this way.’ They applauded us in the sit-in movement–we non-violently decided to sit in at lunch counters. The applauded us on the Freedom Rides when we accepted blows without retaliation. They praised us in Albany and Birmingham and Selma, Alabama. Oh, the press was so noble in its applause, and so noble in its praise when I was saying, ‘Be non-violent toward Bull Connor;’ when I was saying, ‘Be non-violent toward [Selma, Alabama segregationist sheriff] Jim Clark.’ There’s something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that will praise you when you say, ‘Be non-violent toward Jim Clark,’ but will curse and damn you when you say, ‘Be non-violent toward little brown Vietnamese children.’ There’s something wrong with that press.”
Dr. King, in solidarity with clergy and others concerned with violence perpetuated by the U.S. government, said in his April 4, 1967 speech, “A Time to Break Silence,” that the ”time comes when silence is betrayal.”
So, while I am not always in agreement with Dr. West’s choice of words, or his questionable friendship with Smiley, who hasn’t met a corporate sponsor he didn’t like, I remain grateful that he has not betrayed Black America and the global community with silence.