The war of words between Cornel West and the pro-Obama black activists has heated up once again after West criticize President Obama, MSNBC anchors Rev. Al Sharpton and Melissa Harris-Perry and professor Michael Eric Dyson, implying that the later three are sell-outs for their uncritical support of the president.
West made his comments during an appearance with Tavis Smiley on “Democracy Now” hosted by Amy Goodman. The passionate criticism of Obama and his defenders are just the latest from West and Smiley, who have been leveling scathing attacks against Obama’s policies since the beginning of his presidency. Smiley and West have a syndicated radio show together on public radio.
During the course of the interview, West called Obama a “Rockefeller Republican in blackface” and “crypto-fascist” for his treatment of terrorism suspects and said the president was guilty of war crimes for killing innocent people with drones in the Middle East.
“I love Brother Mike Dyson, but we’re living in a society where everybody is up for sale,” West said. “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. And it’s a sad thing to see them as apologists for the Obama administration in that way, given the kind of critical background that all of them have had at some point.”
West has gotten into a television shouting match with Sharpton and a spat with Harris-Perry in print over the last two years because of their support of Obama. While Smiley and West, a former Princeton professor who is now teaching at Union Theological Seminary, where he began his career, have said their criticism of Obama is part of the progressive tradition and in particular they are trying to push him to address the rise of poverty in America, some observers have claimed the attacks are more personal in nature—namely, that West was miffed when he didn’t get an invitation to the inaugural in 2009 and Smiley was upset when Obama declined an invitation to one of his conferences.
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For his part, Sharpton declined to wade into another brawl with West, saying on his nationally syndicated radio show that he didn’t feel the need to respond to the comments of Smiley and West.
“I wish them well with whatever it is they are trying to do,” he said this afternoon.
West called Harris-Perry a “fake and a fraud” last year after she wrote a calling him a “self-aggrandizing” man who “offers thin criticism of President Obama and stunning insight into the delicate ego of the self-appointed black leadership class that has been largely supplanted in recent years.”