Opinion: Cornel West's 'petty potshots' are beneath him
February 13th, 2012
01:28 PM ET

Opinion: Cornel West's 'petty potshots' are beneath him

Editor's Note: Zerlina Maxwell is a political analyst and staff writer for Loop21.com, where she writes about national politics, candidates, and cultural issues. She writes frequently about domestic violence, sexual assault, victim blaming and gender inequality. Her writing has appeared in JET Magazine, The Huffington Post, TheRoot.com, Salon.com, and TheGrio.com.

By Zerlina Maxwell, Special to CNN

As if it were primed right on time for Black History Month, Professor Cornel West has yet again candidly expressed his true feelings on the first black president and his supporters. His target of ire this time: MSNBC host Professor Melissa Harris-Perry who Dr. West calls a “fraud.”

Dr. West’s dislike for President Obama and by extension those who support the administration is nothing new.  This time Dr. West shared his displeasure with Obama in an interview with Diverse magazine where he slammed the president yet again for what West sees as a failure to address the issue of poverty in America.

Over the past 3 years, Dr. West, once a vocal Obama supporter, has turned into one of the most vocal naysayers of not only the President’s policies but also who the president is.  Apparently unwilling to restrict his criticisms to the Obama administration, Dr. West recently singled out and implied that MSNBC hosts Reverend Al Sharpton and Dr. Harris-Perry were actually pawns of the liberal media establishment.

Last May, Professor Cornel West went “ballistic” in an interview with Truthdig.com and offered a scathing critique of President Obama calling him, a “black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats.” This description by Dr. West was intended to be a critique on the president’s economic policies and team, namely Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and former economic advisor Lawrence Summers.

At the time, the interview inspired a response in The Nation from Dr. Harris-Perry  which then resulted in a joint interview where the two academics appeared back to back, but not head to head, to share their distinct viewpoints and political analysis on President Obama’s tenure.  Unfortunately, Dr. West’s critiques neglected to include any process analysis, where the Republican filibuster, and not President Obama’s lack of backbone or disregard for the concerns for the poor are to blame for the slow pace of change.

Dr. West appears to have held onto some angst from that dust up and in this recent interview with Diverse, called Dr. Harris-Perry a “liar” saying that, “[s]he’s become the momentary darling of liberals, but I pray for her because she's in over her head.  She's a fake and a fraud.  I was so surprised how treacherous the sister was.”  Dr. Harris-Perry is a newly minted host on MSNBC.

In defense of Dr. Harris-Perry, her MSNBC colleague Rev. Al Sharpton told TheGrio.com, West’s comments were “arrogant” and “disingenuous,” saying that “[w]e are not arguing about issues here, we’re arguing about personality.”

With this personal attack on Dr. Harris-Perry, Dr. West has officially exited the arena of intellectual jousting that normally is focused on the merits of an argument and has entered into the realm of petty pot shots. A public intellectual of his stature should be above infantile insults.

Dr. West’s description of Dr. Harris-Perry’s work as not very “academic” and that the esteemed professor is nothing more than “just a lot of twittering” is another slight to Dr. Harris-Perry meant to belittle her publicly.  To describe her most recent book, Sister Citizen as “wild and out of control” is a description that might as well read “she is emotional” and “she’s erratic” which, at its core, is little more than a common attempt to marginalize a woman based on a socially engrained perception. If Dr. West isn’t a fan of Dr. Harris-Perry’s work he should be able to express that without diminishing her accomplishments.

Furthermore, it’s not clear what evidence Dr. West has to support these accusations.  At this point, the clearly personal history between the two former Princeton professors has negatively infected the public conversation.  Dr. West’s critique of Dr. Harris-Perry, heavily colored by gender and paternalism, is one that seems to leverage his own male privilege assuming that the masses that respect his past work, will listen to his current views unchallenged. With so few black public intellectuals and media figures, and even fewer that are black women, it’s mystifying that Dr. West has made the choice to use his earned public platform to harm an African American woman so directly.

Dr. West’s transition from thought provoking academic into a short-tempered bomb thrower settling personal scores is a tragedy.  If Dr. West cares so deeply about Americans living in poverty, then he should focus on that and leave out all of this other personal nonsense, which just makes him look like half the intellectual he once was.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Zerlina Maxwell.

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Filed under: Black in America • Politics • Race • What we think
soundoff (208 Responses)
  1. Jim Steadman

    Zerlina is just a typically moderate coward who thinks that the only good ideas are ones that no one gets excited about.

    February 15, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • crazypete

      Hey! Perfect example of the ad hominem logicalk fallacy. You didn't even dress it up in an attempt to pass it off as a coherent argument. Good for you!

      February 16, 2012 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
  2. BOBBY

    I have just had an epiphany. After 49 years i just discovered what the problem with West and many other people like him and like Newt Gingrich (what I am going to say will explain that one)

    There is really no connection between being "Educated" and being "Intelligent" The problem is is that nearly all "Educated" people are totally oblivious of this and thus think being "Educated" is the same as being "intelligent" which is simply not the case. This coupled with the fact that "Educated" people ALWAYS have a bigger voice than non educated people means....yup you guessed it...many stupid people are put in positions of power" Thats West. Obama is both "educated and intelligent"...like him or not, thats pretty clear.

    February 15, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  3. BOBBY

    The problem the general public has in assesing dissapointment with Obama is that the general public...including West, has NO IDEA what the complexities are in trying to build a consensus in this government and Nation! The only form of government in which a leader can get as much done as many think should have been done by Obama is a dictatorship.

    February 15, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  4. angryed

    Wow..I know there were high expectations for this admin.....but come on Dr West, did you really think they could fix education and repair all the social causes for poverty ??? I agree that Obama has been a huge dissapointment but I base that on their " kick the can down the road " approach to so many economic problems and their irresponsible deficit spending....but come on, Obama walked into a mess....he could have made much better decsions but one man can only do so much

    February 15, 2012 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
    • BOBBY

      Yes. The problem with West is he is an 'intellectual" and an "educated" man, in a position that allows his voice to be heard, but at the same time its pretty clear he is...well...stupid.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff

    Dr. West gets to play the overeducated socialist fool (“black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats") , Princeton gets to point to the token professor as proof of diversity. A convienient/lucrative arrangement for both. Neither worth paying attention too.

    February 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Funny how socialist fools tend to be "overeducated", and far-right-fascist fools have a tendency to be "undereducated". You are what you value.

      February 15, 2012 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
    • LISA C

      I love it!!!

      February 15, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. don canard

    if anything, this President has been working from the bottom up, putting measures in place to help the most disadvantaged. That our reactionary American Taliban oppose it, or that it's not realistic to demand an academician's socialist utopia, doesn't change that. And yes, African-American males have a serious choice to make, urgently: do they expect to replace white kings with black kings, and buy into "it's good to be da king", or will they finally figure out what women have had to conclude long ago, that it's time to stop needing, or wanting to be, kings.

    February 14, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kabro

    Pretend for a minute I was talking about Rush Limbaugh or another white personality, and I said, "With so few intellectuals and media figures who are white women, it’s mystifying that (Rush) has made the choice to use his earned public platform to harm a Caucasian woman so directly." How is this okay? Now replace "white" or "Caucasian" with "black" or "African-American." How is this any more acceptable?

    February 14, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doc Sinn

      I dont see a problem one way or the other

      February 14, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • bigGmanrainingboom

      not enough to throw a stick at.

      February 15, 2012 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. got thin skin?

    Thank goodness for Doc West, Tavis, and Boyce Watkins that continue to hold "all" politicians' feet to the the fire (no matter what party they are) on behalf of the middle class, working class, working poor, poor, black, and brown people. This so-called 'political analyst' elitist Zerlina Maxwell worked for the Obama campaign so she incapable of being objective and is just another thin-skinned liberal that would call a non-black person a racist if they so as much as hinted that they didn't like Pres Obama's tie let alone a policy. Ms Maxwell, open your eyes! The rich have gotten richer under this administration and the middle class and working poor continue to see their Amercican dreams move further out of reach. Roland Martin and Maxwell are just puppets with thin skin.

    February 14, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lean6

      Here's a repeat of a separate post. Just one area that illustrates the agendas that blind Cornell West, Tavis Smiley and the like. Have a look. This is a cut-and-paste from 10 seconds worth of Google. Feel free to do your own research if you care to:

      "Still believe in post-racial politics? Read the health care bill. It's affirmative action on steroids, deciding everything from who becomes a doctor to who gets treatment on the basis of skin color. President Obama is on the record as being officially opposed to reparations for slavery. But as with other issues, you have to sift through his eloquent rhetoric and go beyond the teleprompter to get at what he really means. His opposition to reparations is based on the fact they don't go far enough."

      Meanwhile you've got West and Smiley shooting their mouths off about what President Obama isn't doing for the "poor"?! Funny how the wannabe rich can see what he's doing for the "poor", but the wannabe Leaders of the "poor" cannot.

      February 14, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      If Ms. Maxwell has worked for Obama's campaign in the past she should definitely disclose that in her "article".

      Shame on you, Ms. Maxwell.

      February 15, 2012 at 2:13 am | Report abuse |
    • BOBBY

      You have no idea what she is "capable" of.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  9. rockytony

    Do you think this incendiary, vitriolic, inflammatory person who now sees Obama exposed for the poor leader he really is, would possibly vote for a Republican this time around?

    February 14, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • fineart


      February 14, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Well, let's see, Dr. West is essentially complaining that Obama doesn't really care about the poor, and is a "mascot" for Wall Street, and you're asking if Dr. West will "vote Republican" next time? Your question makes perfect sense! L-M-A-O

      February 15, 2012 at 2:22 am | Report abuse |
  10. dinak

    Dr. West is spot-on. It's true that there are more in poverty for a longer period of time under Obama's presidency. The unemployment rate for young black men is higher than in any other category, and more people have to rely on food stamps instead of work wages. Obama had a filibuster-proof majority in both houses of Congress for the first two years, so this article's author has not done her homework. Obama has spent more than any other president with promises to address the above-mentioned economic/social issues, but the money went to big union chiefs and their fat pensions and their unions' pensions instead of into freeing up companies to build infrastructure and factories that require hiring! Obama paid off the banks and unions and left everyone else in the dust. He even gave billions of U.S. dollars to Brazil so they could drill for oil in their waters and employ their people, but he decries doing that in the U.S., where many black men and women could have found work. Obama is a fraud; Dr. West is correct. Obama's promises and then the actual results and facts are clear. Dr. West doesn't care about the color of Obama's skin – he cares about integrity and work ethic – both of which Obama is lacking.

    February 14, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • HPNIII

      West is a black Rush Limbaugh, very entertaining, as a white person I enjoy listening to him because you never know what he is going to come out with.

      February 14, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
      • LISA C

        I agree with you and I'm Black!!!!!!

        February 15, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarge

      How dare you blame the inequities or short comings of young blacks on OBAMA!!!! You obviously have the same thought process as West!!!!! Educated IDIOT!!!!

      February 15, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. noodlez




    OBAMA 2012!

    February 14, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • shamus

      Sounds like you are the one with your seat at Obama's balls.

      February 14, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dave

    Why can't the poor uplift themselves by making better choices and getting an education? We are the blame everybody else society.

    February 14, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • DMM

      With what? Education costs money, and Bush decreased Pell Grants, making it even harder for the needy to get money for education. Incomes for the poor and middle class have remained, essentially, neutral, while the rich's incomes have dramatically increased. Prices have not stayed neutral, they have increased. So guess what, it gets even harder for the poor to climb out of poverty. The rich are not job creators, it's middle class small businesses that create the most jobs, and small businesses, like the middle class, are getting squeezed while rich corporations get unneeded handouts (corporate welfare for the wealthy, doesn't make any sense). The middle class pays more taxes, as a percentage of their income, than the wealthy. Less money for education. Poor get some help there, but again, cost of living goes up, cost of education goes up, cost of educational expenses (books, i.e.) go up...

      Plus, jobs are not in abundance. If the rich are getting richer (they are) and if they really are job creators, then were are all the jobs? Easy to say – get a job – but if they can't afford education, then they don't qualify for many of the few jobs that are available, thus get very low paying jobs, which do not allow them to afford education – trapped.

      February 14, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      Poor education, lack of role models and very little opportunity equals a continuing cycle of poverty.

      February 15, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Sarge

      Dave, I agree. I am a person who grew up in the Ohio Valley in STEEL Country!!! I left, made a choice to go into the military and endure the process of DICIPLINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Dammit!!! I, for one am tired of hearing that we have to do something for the YOUNG BLACKS. When you want a paycheck and don't want to work legally for it, I have no sympathy or respect for you. I believe in tough love. Re-form yourself from poverty and sacrifice something to get something. I spent 25 years in the military and have a retirement from two jobs. STOP crying!!!!!

      February 15, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
      • LISA C

        Who said anything about the poor only being BLACK!!!! So are you telling me that there are NO poor white people!! I guess you never been to West Virginia!!!!!!

        February 15, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. christy in okc


    February 14, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • DMM

      Obama tries too, but there's this legislative thing called Congress – the GOP keeps blocking him because they want him to fail -they rather hurt the country if it means a chance at getting some power (both sides are guilty of this, unfortunately).

      February 14, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
      • shamus

        Sort of like the DIMs whe Bush was President??

        February 14, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      Clinton had a booming economy with which to work with. The past 3 years has been a battle just to keep the economy from completely tanking, much less reducing poverty. Keeping poverty from overtaking the majority IS fighting poverty.

      February 15, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. BOBBY111

    "Dr", term used loosely, is a self-righteous blowhard on the order, in opposite, of Newt Gingrich. His simplistic views are that of a teenager who somehow thinks that all decisions in this world are unilaterally made and will be uncontested. Like the GOP he thinks that “it’s all taking too long” and that Obama “should be doing more” as if that was even possible. “Dr”? He is a pretentious self-absorbed idealist with delusions of grandeur. He is proof positive that people who don’t deserve too, can end up at Harvard. “Union Theological College” “Professor” He is the “Ken lay” of educators and needs to see an orthodontist and keep is pie hole closed….in a word he is…stupid.

    February 14, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • icunme

      Agree 100%!

      February 14, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Christine

    While I don't agree at all with how Dr. West attacked Melissa Harris-Perry and Al Sharpton personally, I do think he is correct. He's just being excessively emotional about the issues... and honestly, with the poverty in this country amongst many (not just African Americans), we all should be emotional. That old saying of "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention" is correct. I appreciate Dr. Harris-Perry, Al Sharpton and President Obama... BUT... they are not doing enough for the poor - it's that simple and Dr. West sees that. He's calling people out and saying the emperor has no clothes on... as we all should.

    February 14, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOBBY111

      And just what are three people, president or not, going to do on their own to solve the problems of this country. This mans reactive response to HIS dissatisfaction with whats happening it like a teenager throwing a fit because she didn't get what she wanted for her birthday...he is a joke and so is the "college" he "teaches" at....a complete joke.

      February 14, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
      • icunme

        Kudos to U, Bobby!

        February 14, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
      • Guest

        "Bobby", you're saying someone being outraged about poverty in our country is, "like a teenager" being upset they didn't get what they want for their birthday? Are you serious, "Bobby"?

        February 15, 2012 at 2:31 am | Report abuse |
      • BOBBY

        "Guest" you are confusing the "gift" with the reaction to not getting it. Yes the elimination of poverty is good, but to be dissapointed to the point that West is, and to dismiss all that has and will be done because poverty is not eliminated is simplistic and infintile...i.e. West.

        February 15, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Lean6

      West is playing racial, civil, and social politics. That's all there is to it. Either that or he is absolutely blind to the struggle that President Obama has faced with Republicans...and some corporate entrenched Democrats. Is anybody ignorant to the rhetoric regarding Universal Healthcare? Do you not know that the opposition has characterized it as backdoor reparations for blacks? To see the motivations behind West and his kind at work hurts me deeply...I could only imagine what the President must feel.

      February 14, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
      • BOBBY111

        I could not have said it better myself, well done.

        February 14, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kelly

        Again, you make statements with no supporting evidence.. I googled the debate on Universal Heathcare but could not locate anyone claiming that it was backdoor reparation for Blacks. If you have a source could you post it..

        February 14, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lean6

        Kelly, I'm referring to the rhetoric in forums much like these and verbal exchanges-debates where you REALLY get to see what's being said and how people feel...as well as the conservative personalities that have said such things. Keep looking if you really care to find it. I gain nothing by telling such an untruth, and I'm not the one that needs to see it again. President Obama has a centrist record, but malcontents on both sides want to claim he's too liberal or too conservative. It's not rocket science.

        February 14, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lean6

        By the way, Kelly...you might want to search for "Obamacare...reparations" and not Universal Healthcare. I couldn't resist spending the 10 seconds performing a Google search that you apparently did not. Just a simple cut-and-paste from an exchange:

        "Still believe in post-racial politics? Read the health care bill. It's affirmative action on steroids, deciding everything from who becomes a doctor to who gets treatment on the basis of skin color. President Obama is on the record as being officially opposed to reparations for slavery. But as with other issues, you have to sift through his eloquent rhetoric and go beyond the teleprompter to get at what he really means. His opposition to reparations is based on the fact they don't go far enough."

        Meanwhile you've got West and Smiley shooting their mouths off about what President Obama isn't doing for the "poor"?! Funny how the wannabe rich can see what he's doing for the "poor", but the wannabe Leaders of the "poor" cannot.

        February 14, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kelly

        Lean6, I had assumed that you were referring to an actual source, such as a news story or an editorial.. I see now that you think what someone posts in these comment sections is an actual "source." That is sad. These comment sections bring out the extremists on any issue and are not something you should be quoting as a source. Most will not use their real names, will not quote sources for exagerated claims, and frequently change their monikers in order to agree with themselves.. Evidently you don't know how to defend your position..

        February 14, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lean6

        Kelly, I don't need to read much more from you to guess that you hear what you want to hear, see what you want to see, and believe what you want to believe. West and Smiley can dress it up and hide behind supposed intellect and/or education as much as they want, but it's just the same crab mentality that has come to be expected whenever Blacks have ascended to heights of achievement and/or power. We used to hear names like "Oreo" coming out of his kind at around this point...before we became so civilized and evolved. Now Mr. "Baines" West simply refers to President Obama as a black puppet and masquerades behind economic terms. It's the same pattern of taking down black leaders...if you want to take it there.

        February 14, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lean6

        Oh...in case you ever decide to really look up the intra-racial poison that West spews at President Obama, start here:

        "I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men,” West said. “It’s understandable. As a young brother who grows up in a white context, brilliant African father, he’s always had to fear being a white man with black skin. All he has known culturally is white…When he meets an independent black brother, it is frightening.”

        Ummmmm...translation – Mr. "Baines" West just called your President an Oreo.

        February 14, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lean6

        At LEAST I can say that the Rev. Al Sharpton has been fair. I have lost all respect for West:

        "West’s comments, which continued in a Tuesday night interview on MSNBC, intensified the criticism of Obama that began after the election. During the 2008 campaign, West said, he traveled to 65 campaign events for the presidential candidate. But West complains that he was not given inauguration tickets for his brother and mother and that Obama did not return his phone calls.

        In 2009, West told the New Yorker magazine that he was displeased with Obama’s well-received speech on race, which, in part, compared racial anger in the black community to that in the white community.

        According to West, his relationship with Obama hit a low following a speech the president gave in July 2010 at the National Urban League’s centennial conference. West said Obama made a beeline to him after the speech and “cussed” him out, saying that West ought to be ashamed for saying Obama is not a progressive. White House aides did not dispute that Obama had scolded West.

        The Rev. Al Sharpton, a close Obama ally who has sparred with West over the president, said Tuesday that the issue comes down to a misunderstanding of Obama’s role. “This is the first time in this country that we have an African American president. He is not the president of African Americans,” Sharpton said. “The problem we’re seeing with too many older-minded people is you don’t want the next generation. You want clones. And people don’t have to be your clone to validate your sacrifice.”

        February 14, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lean6

        Kelly, Brother Baines (Google if you're lost) is trying to take down your President because he "dissed" him over some inauguration tickets. Really....

        February 14, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kelly

        Lean6, all I had asked you was to site sources for this statement "Do you not know that the opposition has characterized it as backdoor reparations for blacks? You then go into some tirade about Mr. West and Al Sharpton not getting along.. Who the heck cares?? I asked you to site sources because if what you claim was true I wanted to read the article, or editorial, and post a comment about my disagreement. Again, you probably have no source and that is why you refuse to site it. Sorry I hit such a hot button with that you felt compelled to write so much in response while still not answering the question.. Facts are the downfall of many who consider themselves intellectuals ..

        February 15, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lean6

        Kelly, that is absolutely pathetic passive aggression. Here's a cut-and-paste of your comment that prompted the history about West and Obama. West's petty behavior is the subject of the article. If you can't accept being wrong in a forum, you probably shouldn't post, and you definitely shouldn't be confrontational.

        "You make many statements, but list no facts. Can you give us some examples of President Obama's accomplishments, and some of the "blatantly" obvious racial attacks."

        February 15, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kelly

        How pathetic, you still refuse to answer the question.. Instead you cut an paste a comment I made on a different post. It's ok to admit that you made a mistake and have no source for your claim.. We all make mistakes, even me.. I frequently use "your," when I actually meant you're" as someone was gracious enough to point out. All I asked for was your source, evidently that is a touchy issue with you.

        February 15, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lean6

        Kelly, face it...you're just another person in a long list of people around here who likes to talk but has little to say.

        February 16, 2012 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  16. MasterWooten


    I understand the whole poverty issue and the fact that America has a few of them and that tis financial crisis has exacerbtaed the problem. The question for people like Tavis Smiley, and Cornel West and some of you on this post is what do we do about it? Don't kid yourselves, we have ALWAYS had poverty as has EVERY society on earth and that will NEVER change.

    The fact is this, we can abandon the marketplace which has been proven to be the most efficient producer of wealth on a global scale and end up like Greece, (yes turn on your TVs and see what state run economies have done to Europe) OR we can realise that even though there was some foul play in our markets, ONLY markets can get us out of this funk as they did everytime we had an economic downturn.

    Nobody in government including President Obama can drag the country's poor out of poverty. They can sink more people into the ranks of poverty but then what'll that do? Fact is the poor are where they are and are gonna stay there for the forseeable future. Question is how do we get them "movin' on up" in the quickest most efficient manner? By bellyaching for Obama and government to "wave a magic wand" to make them "unpoor" or by allowing the market to do its thing and correct the problem?

    The only governments I know that had the ability to "eliminate poverty" were those run by Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and Mao!

    February 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOBBY111

      Absolutely irrefutably totally correct

      February 14, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris R

      So we've seen from history that an unfettered marketplace doesn't do that much to help the poor. Look at America or England around 1900 (around a 40% poverty rate). There was a much larger body of poor people then. It wasn't until specific government programs targeted at relieving poverty and restricting abusive business practices did we see the level of poverty decrease. It's a long term process though – no one can wave a magic wand and lift everyone out of poverty. However, we can have programs that help prevent people from falling into poverty (which is actually cheaper than letting them become poor in the first place) and we can provide the resources (education, health care, etc) to help the poor lift themselves out of poverty over time.

      The market qua market has no overriding interest in lifting people out of poverty as there is little profit in it. So leaving this to market forces alone doesn't seem to be an effective strategy based on numerous historical precedents.

      February 14, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
      • shamus

        You are correct, it is not the job of the market to pull the poor out of poverty. It is the job of the poor to better themselves and achieve more than the next handout. Making life easy will only indoctrinate another generation of welfare addicts.

        February 14, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
      • Guest

        What "Shamus" is saying is an old and tired far-right view that it's not society's "job" to help the poor better themselves, it's strictly up to themselves, and let's get rid of any and ALL safety nets while we're at it! This view has been parroted by the far-right for ever really. Problem is many people just don't agree with it, LOL.

        February 15, 2012 at 2:47 am | Report abuse |
      • Lean6

        Shamus, the truth of the matter is that we're eating out of the same trough. The 99 percent and...more to the point..the poor are the runts of the litter getting scraps, while the big hog 1 percent is growing too fat to move and too fat to care. There's an answer short of performing liposuction on the pig and feeding its fat to the runts...keep him from hogging the bowl and he'll soon drop a few pounds through natural means. The minions of the rich...who are actually part of the 99 percent, incredulously portray every effort to move the pig away from the trough as liposuction...because they think that they'll one day grow up to be the top hog. I'll never understand that naive logic. The only way that happens the way things are is for the hog to one day perish. Because as the hog eats faster and faster, more and more, eventually he eats the runts.

        February 15, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  17. Lean6

    Cornell West is just another man with an opinion who happens to also be an African American. I've nearly kicked my computer off its perch many times when he and others like him have arrogantly grabbed center stage and presumed to speak for and respresent some monolithic race of people...usually with total disregard for the big picture of things in America. If he hadn't gone off-script, he would still be allowed to do so without challenge. There are a lot of people in this country who should be ashamed of themselves with regard to the past three years under President Obama. Complete ignorance, and often blatantly racist arguments from some of these people have done serious damage...or at least has not helped anybody's causes.

    President Obama's record will and already is speaking for itself...louder than any of the lies and rhetoric painting pictures in contrast to his growing list of accomplishments. Cornell West is a disgrace. Time for him to find a new way to make money. I could say so much more, but I unlike Mr. West will choose to be more responsible with my words and emotions.

    February 14, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kelly

      You make many statements, but list no facts.. Can you give us some examples of President Obama's accomplishments, and some of the "blatantly" obvious racial attacks..

      February 14, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lean6

        Kelly, when I see such posts I immediately think i'm dealing with someone who is disingenuous or completely ignorant. It's extremely easy to even Google "President Obama's accomplishments", so I refuse to even waste time on that one. As for the civil, social, and racial politics from the likes of Mr. West, merely listen to his arguments and rhetoric and compare them to the reality of what's going on, what the President has ACTUALLY accomplished, and the likelihood that there ever will be such a President or system of government that would appease Mr. West. He does nothing more than habitually fire up and string along the ignorant down a path to nowhere.

        February 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
      • shamus

        Lean, when I read posts from people that refuse to back up their "facts", I know that I am dealing with someone disingenuous and ignorant.

        February 14, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lean6

        Shows how little you know. Do your own research...or just open your eyes.

        February 14, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • icunme

      Truth and the record of President Obama speak for themselves. Those with their own ignorant agenda will continue to ignore and bad-mouth. Too bad!

      February 14, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kelly

      Lean6, you seem to think that because you can find what you want by googling it that it becomes fact. You should know that I could google most anything from alien visitors to Big Foot and find sites that will tell me those are real. What I asked you was to site your sources.. Your making the claims, you must have gotten the information from somewhere. If it convinced you it might just convince me, but you refuse to site your sources.. I saw a post recently that said something about how liberals hate being confronted with facts. You are trying your best to prove that post correct by refusing to name your sources, or maybe you just don't have any sources??

      February 14, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
      • icunme

        Here is a short list:

        BTW there is a difference between "your" (possessive" and "you're" (you are)

        February 14, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kelly

        Icunme, thanks for the link.. Evidently the compiler of the list isn't quit sure how our goverment works though. It lists many things that the President has little or no control over. And thanks again for correcting me on my usage of 'your." You must be kept pretty busy correcting everyone's spelling, grammer and puncuation..

        February 15, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
      • icunme

        I am a professional writer/editor – THAT keeps me busy! lol

        February 15, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  18. brandonj

    The authors first few lines told me all I need to know about her bias against Dr. West. I do not know who Dr. Harris-Perry is and I have not heard the interviews with Dr. West to which Ms. Maxwell is referring so I will not comment on them. However, Ms. Maxwell is clearly perturbed that Dr. West has been critical of the president. Why? His criticisms aren't valid? This president has consistently caved and has not done much for the poor and working class in this country, which is Dr. West's main concern. The President's policies have done much to bolster corporate interests and he has done little to hold those responsible for the financial crisis accountable. To be fair, previous presidents have not done any better and congress does tie the president's hands in many cases. But it does appear that the president is quick to abandon his principles in order to "compromise" and that the compromises are doing little if anything for the poor and the working middle class which is raplidly slipping downward into the ranks of the poor. I thank God for people like Dr. West and Tavis Smiley who have the courage and conviction to stand up for their beliefs and to call the president to account for his failure to live up to the promis of hope an change so often bantered about in 2008. They are capable of calling the president on his failures without being blinded by the fact that he's the nation's first black president. Blindly supporting the president on the basis of race and getting angry at those who are critical of him (especially those african-americans who dare criticize him) is to turn one's back on the country and on the "least of these" in our society-the poor and working class. Apparently, Ms. Maxwell wouldn't be happy unless Dr. West just supported "our black president" as many call him, without question. Sorry, Ms. Maxwell, but that will never happen and I thank God for it!

    February 14, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      Nicely put, brandonj. I suppose it depends on whose ox is being gored. That there is still a single intelligent black person supporting this failed president and his nouveau-riche wife is the real mystery, not that genuine scholars like Professor West are outraged by them. I'm so sick of this new transparent re-election ruse trotting the First Lady around showing how fun and 'real' she is after we all got a belly full of her excessive vacations and expenditures at taxpayers' expense. And her husband, the peace prize winning warmonger. So go, Cornel, say it like it is! A prophet is never accepted among his own people.

      February 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
      • MasterWooten

        And by "failed president" you mean because he hasn't governed like Francois Mitterand or because his policies weren't closer to those of Margret Thatcher?

        February 14, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Thank you for your post, brandonj! Dr. West is standing on principle, and Ms. Maxwell is just a mouthpiece who's worked on the Obama campaign in the past and can tolerate no criticism.

      February 15, 2012 at 2:57 am | Report abuse |
  19. Ken Brock

    If memory serves, both Cornell West and Tavis Smiley took issue with Bill Cosby's comments on inner city struggles. Not that Bill Cosby was incorrect, they just didn't like the fact that he said it.

    Cornell and Tavis have proven themselves to be fools who don't see the world realistically. Their only audience comes from a fraction of the black race who perpetually see themselves as victims who are incapable and not responsible of helping themselves . West and Smiley could NEVER achieve the same levels of success as President Obama or Bill Cosby, so they just sit on the sidelines and criticize, while offering NO REAL SOLUTIONS

    Neither of these clowns should everbe taken seriously.

    February 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • brandonj

      How often have you listened to Tavis and Dr. West? They have repeatedly offered solutions. Their criticisms of Dr. Cosby as I understand them, center around his failure to fully appreciate the problems that surround the poor in this day and age. I have great respect for Bill Cosby and agree with him on many points, but he is nearly 80 years old, is worth hundreds of millions of dollars (and has been for DECADES) and is no longer in touch with youth in poverty. The fact is Tyrone and Letisha living in the Southside of Chicago or in Compton aren't going to become rich and sucessful like Dr. Cosby-they'll never even have the opportunity. In fact, most poor kids, regardless of race will never have such opportunities. Dr. Cosby worked hard, but let's face it, he is also somewhat of a rarity. Luck, devine favor, whatever you want to call it smiled upon him. But his success is even less likely than winning the lottery and even moderate sucess is only remotely possible for poor children whose parents are often absent and whose schools are inadequate and underfunded. Personal responsibility is important, and both Tavis and Dr West do recognize that, but at the same time they do recognize how so often the odds are so heavily stacked against the poor and working class in this country, especially those of a minority persuasion. I say with true Christian love Ken, that it is apparent that you don't know the first thing about Tavis and Dr. West. Rather you have formed opinions based on the opinions of others or snippets from TV, radio appearances and print media. Read some of Dr. Wests books in their entirety, listen to Smiley and West on PRI, then write an informed opinion if you want to be taken seriously. Simply calling them names and dismissing them indicates a real hostility that is rooted in ignorance.

      February 14, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
      • A Man

        The answer isn't always more job training, more community centers, more spending on schools. People have to take responsibility for their own lives. It's a rare day when the cards are so stacked against you that it's impossible to make a better life. I know that those stories exist, but bad schools and high crime don't have to doom you to a life of poverty. There are many stories of kids living in poor families making something better of themselves, even if that means working in the day and going to school at night. No one is coming to save you, you have to save yourself (in an earthly sense). Stop waiting for society to lift you up, lift yourself up. That's the point of people like Bill Cosby.

        February 14, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  20. MasterWooten

    Cornel West thinks that the US should follow Europe's particularly Greece's example of how to manage (mismanage) an economy.

    Black intellectual? Black president? People need to stop getting hung up on the "black" label like this author does and start getting hung up on competence.

    The questions to be asked are the following;

    "Is this intellectual making an intelligent argument"?
    'Is this president doing an effective job"?

    My fear for black people is that they put so much stock into race and so little in effciency and embrace black people always at the expense of efficiency that soon enough people are going to start equating "black" with inefficiency as black people go to great lengths to defend the indefensible simply because he/she is black.

    February 14, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      I'd have to agree. A good number of people voted for Obama for the single reason that he is black. Of course there are plenty of other idiots who didnt' vote for him because he is black but the point is, as long as "black" or "white" come into the decision making process, we lose focus on the competency and qualifications. I didn't vote for Obame because I don't believe he has the leadership background to be president. Not becuase he is black. I don't care what race he belongs to. It's ironic that the very people who profess to be working to eliminate racism, end up perpetuating it by keeping it a focal point.

      February 14, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
      • PoBoy

        If that were true, than Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would have received the majority of the Black American vote when he ran for President, or Black America would have stood behind Herman Cain and/or Clarence Thomas. We don't vote for someone because their black, we vote because their we believe they both share our values and are competent to hold the office to which they aspire. That President Obama got over 90% of our vote, not just because he was black.

        February 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Dave

    truth hurts, doesn't it Ms. Maxwell?!?!?

    February 14, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Alan

    We need more Cornel Wests, not fewer.

    February 14, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • brandonj


      February 14, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Greg

    How come the radical elements on both sides of the political spectrum resort to name calling and hysterics when they don't see things going their way? I'm not a supporter of the president but I am also not in agreement with how Congress conducts business either. Neither side appears to want to conduct any real dialog on what is best for this country as a whole. Instead they focus and hold ground on a position that only their vocal supporters want. Here is a novel idea, how about coming to a middle ground and deciding on what is best for the majority of this nation rather than for the far right conservative sector or far left liberal sector?

    February 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • globalone

      Thanks for your ability to reason. This makes the most sense.

      February 14, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  24. GowestorEast

    West had a lot of good insights in the past. I did see tiny bits of subjective paranoia. This has gotten amplified recently?

    February 14, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  25. bee gee

    I appreciate and respect Cornell West efforts to address poverty, but I think he can do this w/o always talking about the President. Just as there are folks who do not support Pres Obama, there are folks that do support him. Name calling is not necessary and it always dilute the message.

    February 14, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  26. PoBoy

    I used to be a Dr West fan. Now I think he is a victim of his own successes..too smart for his own good. Dr West, go take your meds and sit down. You're engaging in the very act of character assassination and male chauvinism that you once despised! Shame on you.

    February 14, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      This is the ultimate end result of a racist and hate-filled worldview of the man. There is nothing to respect about the man except that he is tenacious but unfortunately not utilized in a good way.

      He isn't "too smart for his own good." He is too smart by 1/4. Even more unfortunately, there are people who think this guy is smart and worthy of listening to. He is nothing but a David Duke with a different melanin level.

      February 14, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
      • icunme

        Agreed – 100%

        February 14, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
      • Notalida

        Actually, David Duke also has some thought provoking things to say. You should probably listen to one of his latest Youtube vids. Just sayin.

        February 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
      • Goldy

        Cornell West was always less brain than mouth. I suspect he bullied his way through life and is an embarrassment to his academic employer. He's a black Newt Gingrich who uses attacks and retorts to misdirect those waiting for responses to reasoned arguments.

        February 14, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
      • PoBoy

        Wow, comparing Cornel West to David Duke. Have you actually read and/or listened for comprehension to either of them? I think if you had, you would come to a very different conclusion.

        February 14, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nathan

      It's a dead-end road for us when we start calling intellectuals too smart. West may have acted without good practical judgment in a few cases, and he may have acted egoistically in many more (don't we all?), but the problem is not that he is too smart. The problem is that he is a human being and that he will fail, like all of us. We need more smart people and not fewer. And we need to be more smart ourselves, not less. The alternative would be bleak indeed.

      February 14, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Geoff

    I very deeply respect Dr. West's long-held values. But I agree with the article ... he's lost his cool and lost a lot of respect because of it. I understand much of his frustration but his reactions to that frustration have definitely gone over the line where they are now counter-productive.

    February 14, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  28. John

    I quit reading when Sharpton's name appeared.

    February 14, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  29. Patrick

    President Obama has not address poverty, because America doesn't care. At least he is trying to gain somtraction for the middle class.

    Cornell West is not one of my favorite people, but he has his opinion, and he's right on Obama's failure to address poverty.

    February 14, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Arlington

      What it seems Cornel has forgotton, is that in a battle, to do what is best for all, you must sacrifice some. To focus, on proverty, as Dr. West would suggest, would be to lose focus on the infrastructure. Rebuilding America's failing infrastructure, will put more Americans back to work locally. Added benefit, the crime rate goes down in neighborhoods where people work, and live.

      February 14, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  30. marv

    West is a loudmouth blowhard d-bag. He's actually harmful to tyhe people he supposedly fights for...what a tool

    February 14, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  31. babs

    It is sad and unfortunate that Dr. West has become a caricature of a black intellectual, straight from central casting.

    February 14, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • GailScott

      True that.

      February 14, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  32. Bippidy Boppidy Boop

    O0o0o Black on Black Crime.......Nice

    February 14, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  33. Readdy

    Many refer to West as racist however a more accurate description would be Black Anglosaxon.

    February 14, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  34. daveinla

    west is a kook and the fact that Al Sharpton has his own TV program is a joke.

    February 14, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  35. icunme

    Dr. West has, for some years, been infected by the notion that what he says is accepted as dogma. A symptom of his illusion of grandeur. Kudos to you, Zerlina, for exposing his petty decent.

    February 14, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Prove Him Wrong

      You can't. That's why you resort to labeling.

      February 14, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  36. GailScott

    I gave West a pass when he insulted Harris-Perry the last time because I thought he was just hot under the collar. But, he's doing it again. No more passes from me and that's that. I like Dr. Harris-Perry because she's smart and sensible. West used to be smart and sensible, too, until he got a Black President that he couldn't control. I wish Al Sharpton would go off on West and tell him to sit down and shut up.

    February 14, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • icunme

      Agreed! The decent of Dr. West will continue. For too many years he fancied himself the sole intellectual voice of black America. A sham and a shame. Too bad there is no process to annul his credentials – defrock this pompous fraud.

      February 14, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • janetperry


      February 14, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  37. Dizzyblonde

    One word I hope gets passe is "hater", its sophmoric. That said, who are the poor? Criminals? Welfare recipients? Does he mean, the working poor? Or does West mean more community organizers? Federal monies for the ever expanding ratholes of education? Obama is the poster child of special interest groups, maybe he could arrange another beer summit, with Biden and Barry and their rolled up sleeves! I'll take a Corona!

    February 14, 2012 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • BR

      I'll take a poster child for groups that actually help mainstream citizens over big business and oil any day.

      February 14, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • tenfour

      well spoken

      February 14, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  38. nondicta

    A token entry for Black History month, trying to apologize for West. His comments are not beneath his stature, they are what he is, a bomb-throwing racist. She's just mad at him because he isn't vocally supporting Obama for not being the racist he is.

    February 14, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |


    February 14, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
    • larryag

      I agree with both of them and they are both right , Obama has done everything he can to keep black people at arm's length until he wants our vote , but hide in the basement so whites won't notice I'm black until it is time to vote

      February 14, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  40. Joe

    Zerlina Maxwell, I have never read your work before but I must say this is an EXCELLENT article. I agree wholeheartedly and appreciate your insights.

    February 14, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  41. jfk1971

    You don't have to be white to be a racist. West is a racist, pure and simple. With any racist, as with any socialist, motive makes anything they say or do suspect.

    February 14, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
    • minnie

      The argument that "motive" makes what ANYONE says or does suspect is another version of the "ad hominem" argument that Dr. West makes, and that this article rightly condemns. And it's useless as an argument, because it can be applied to capitalists, communists, anarchists, right wing Christians, etc. etc. etc. C.S. Lewis long ago pointed out that there is no statement to which someone can't reply "but you only say that because you're a ________."

      February 14, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
      • jfk1971

        Well put. Nonetheless, some people are what they are, and do what they do, because of it.

        You may as well argue that everything someone says, that everything someone does, should be considered within a complete vacuum, with no correlation to anything, by using that argument.

        February 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • jdean

      Don't know much about history, don't know much about biology. Go listen to song again for a personal analysis.

      February 14, 2012 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
      • Brad

        Interesting. Racist. Is it because the man does not agree with your view point or is it because he is critisizing Obama that makes him a racist?

        February 14, 2012 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  42. Conrad Shull

    West is and always has been an a**clown in a bad suit taking up space in a job someone else deserves more.

    February 14, 2012 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
    • larryag

      Dr West has done more for black folks than you c an even think of doing and was doing it when Obama was in diapers

      he has more intelligence in baby finger than your whole head

      February 14, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
      • Guest

        Thank you for reminding people of that!

        February 15, 2012 at 3:15 am | Report abuse |
  43. texasgoat

    Generally, I turn off Dr West when he appears in the media....thanks to this article, I will pay more attention to him.

    February 14, 2012 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
    • tenfour

      I agree with you.

      February 14, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  44. Matte Trygg

    Its very easy to critisize anyone. Even a president of your own race. How about becoming a member of the human race and stop all the seperatists views. If you think you can do a better job than go for it. this country needs to change its the same old politics that dont work that drags people down. time to move in a new direction is here now go and change it.

    February 14, 2012 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  45. Steve

    Mr. West has repeatedly shown himself to be be a chameleon-esque turd that puts on a pseudo-intelligent display one minute (to say 'Hey, I'm a smart man. Listen to me'), then when in the presence of 'common (black) folk' adopts a "Lan' sakes y'all! Sho ' 'nuff a beautiful day, ain't it?" persona. I saw a segment where Mr. West accompanied a TV show host (I think it may have been Tavis Smiley) to (I believe) the lower 9th ward of New Orleans to examine the resiliency of the people there. His down-homey, Song of the South display there was ridiculously contrived and it makes me wonder why people pay attention to him. Let's face it. He's a character. An act. He's made a life/career of being that act.

    February 14, 2012 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      For your consideration... Just made me smile... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70muP8IVJjQ&feature=related

      February 14, 2012 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
  46. Fonzie

    Dr. West is just keepin' it real, yo.

    February 14, 2012 at 7:13 am | Report abuse |
    • .

      He laughs at you.

      February 14, 2012 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |
  47. .

    Cornell West is a caricature.

    February 14, 2012 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
    • minnie

      Of what?

      February 14, 2012 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  48. peekandseek

    I respect Professor Cornel West. He goes deep. ALL LOVE TO him. Keep it moving!

    February 14, 2012 at 6:41 am | Report abuse |
    • .

      Yes, he keeps it true. He makes a lot of money, he owns a huge house, drives a fancy car and eats at the best restaurants.

      Do you think he'd give any of that up for you while you're laying on the sidewalk in the filth to support his occutard ideology?

      He would go back to his gated community in his Infinity Coupe. And laugh his butt off. At YOU.

      February 14, 2012 at 7:14 am | Report abuse |
  49. Billy

    Quick, somebody get that man a dentist!!

    February 14, 2012 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
    • .

      Better yet, get the people who think he makes any sense a brain!

      February 14, 2012 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
      • jdean

        Give them yours you aren't using it.

        February 14, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  50. Nate

    Hang in there Dr. Harris-Perry!!! You'll be the best liberal propagandist yet! Remember the rallying cry of Reverend Al if you are feeling blue,

    "But resist, we much. We must, and we will much, about that be committed "
    -Al not-so-Sharpton

    February 14, 2012 at 4:04 am | Report abuse |
    • CTYank

      Plenty of sour grapes to go around for you folk? Can we address ideas and not get stupidly personal like this? It's very childish.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Al Sharpton has more nuts than most of the so called Occupy crowd will ever have. He faced REAL life threatening opposition in the civil rights movement so that these the clowns in America today can cry over NOTHING!

      February 14, 2012 at 5:38 am | Report abuse |
      • jdean

        How about the Amerikan SS police forces now deployed around the nation. Wake up you are witnessing the early days of an historical repeat. Sieg heil.

        February 14, 2012 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  51. tailor

    he's just another that has discovered that the emperors new clothes are an illusion, and has the honesty to say "But he isn't wearing anything at all!"

    February 14, 2012 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  52. scott

    Sounds like the petty poshots are coming from the writer of this article. And futhered by the comments of those who have been brainwashed that the annoited one can do no wrong.

    February 13, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Dean

    "it’s mystifying that Dr. West has made the choice to use his earned public platform to harm an African American woman so directly."

    Ms. Maxwell quite transparently means Dr. West should limit his ad hominem attacks to white men.

    February 13, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • KanaholicSarah

      On the contrary, her implication simply acknowledges the fact that he so often *does.*

      February 14, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  54. skchgo

    Let's just say this is personal, isn't everything personal? How can Cornel West not take it personal that in his own black community there's an unemployment rate of approximately 18% and this is after the surge of job growth. After all they've been through ESPECIALLY after having the first black president in the United States how can Cornel West not take what's happening in this country and to the people he has tried to fight for his whole life.

    It wasn't too long ago that he got arrested twice (1 – In NYC he got arrested for the stop and frisk policy which have affected african-american and latinos the most) and then 2- in Washington, D.C. to help take money out of politics) so don't even have the audacity to say what has he done for the black community, poor and working people lately because I can go on.

    Also for those who say "oh he's just in it to make money" well why then is he leaving Princeton University to go back to working for Union Theological Seminary which is where he began his career.

    I am so sick and tired of people criticizing Cornel West and making this only a personal thing. This is personal but not for the reasons you think, you forget to mention the issues. President Obama has never mentioned the high unemployment rate in this country, never mentions the poor (does he feel the same way Mitt Romney does, "I don't care about poor people"?)

    So let's stop having to defend Melissa Harris-Perry and/or Al Sharpton and start talking about the issues that we face in this country that are just as important as they've ever been and ironically the same issues Martin Luther King Jr always fought for as well.

    Don't forget the issues.

    February 13, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • peekandseek

      Kudos! totally agree. I am sick of them as well. Professor West has given so much. Information is power!

      February 14, 2012 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |
  55. VDavis

    Another apologist.

    February 13, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  56. fedupwu

    Please get your teeth fixed and a hair cut and retire in a quiet out of the way place like Dakota, North or South really don't care.

    February 13, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sensibility

      Really don't know proper grammar either.

      February 13, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Timmy

      Hmmm sucks- "Black unemployment surged to 16.7% in August, its highest level since 1984, while the unemployment rate for whites fell slightly to 8%, the Labor Department reported." Sucks when an African American doesn't buy into the Democrats mantra of- 'ignore the black voters, they'll always vote for our party'. Someone that actually expect results from a president they voted for, go figure and thank you CNN for providing such great excuses for the current administration!

      February 13, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • skchgo

      What the F does that have anything to do with what's being discussed here, if you don't have anything intelligent to say please don't speak at all your just embarrassing yourself.

      February 14, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  57. Ami0

    I do not believe that there is a systematic conspiratorical effort underway against the intrests of poor people. I do believe that the needs of the poor are largely addressed in inadequate ways; the information for which is based in assumption for the most part. These two men articulated an intention to bring poverty, as an item, as an issue, to the forefront in the discussion of the health and direction of America (see podcasts). That is where these two began. Somehow they ended up cast as out of control egos who sought to gain personal fame through becoming critics of the President... and guess who immediately came to the Presidents defense? ... every brown skinned person in America. The 'poverty' tour was cast as just a means for aggrandizement through attacking the president. The criticisum was attributed to personal resentment, jelousy, anger, depending upon who is writing. It's funny (Listen to Steves version of things). But it is also very sad. The issue of poverty never got to become the 'topic'.

    February 13, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  58. Sensibility

    "Furthermore, it’s not clear what evidence Dr. West has to support these accusations." Maxwell then states that Dr. West's comments are,"heavily colored by gender and paternalism, is one that seems to leverage his own male privilege assuming that the masses that respect his past work, will listen to his current views unchallenged."
    After reading Dr. West's comments I failed to see anything specific that seems leveraged by any "male privilege".
    But I guess when your a black women and a public figure in America you should not be challenged and when your a writer you don't have to provide evidence "to support these accusations," as Maxwell accused Dr. West of doing yet failed to provide herself.
    It seems as if Maxwell wants to make Dr. West into some type of privileged male intellectual tyrant who wants to "harm an African American woman so directly."
    If calling the President out first, then other media public media figures and entire networks, and lastly Dr. Harris-Perry is some how an attempt to harm African-American women (but only to Maxwell) – then she needs to see another doctor called Dr. Phil and leave academia and politics alone.
    This is America and if you can't give and take criticism when it's given out unbiasedly,without cowardly attempting to falsely label someone a "harm" to women without merit as they attempt to raise important issues as protected by the 1st Amendment for people unrepresented by you and the rest of the " pawns of the liberal media establishment" then please don't attempt to make others out to be what's the real "harm" to women and other unrepresented people in this country.
    But this is the new CNN and that's how chess is played now.

    February 13, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  59. Rich

    "....at it's core". "It's" is a contraction for it is. It has nothing to do with possession. Fifth grade error.

    February 13, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  60. Ginnette Powell @caffeinehusky

    Dr. West's train has jumped the track he sounds like a bitter old misogynist and head crab in the barrel...

    February 13, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anya Khan

      Best post of the discussion

      February 14, 2012 at 5:36 am | Report abuse |
  61. HamiltonAZ

    To borrow from Dr. West's playbook, "...and what meds did the good p.h.d. come off of?"

    February 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  62. Sam lowe

    Feel sad for people who think President Obama is the president of black people. He is the president of all Americans. In order for him to be able to tackle poverty he has to tackle wall street and the millions of people who are unemployed. In other words bring the country to economic stability. Poverty is the direct result of economic instability and no all the way around. I have read Professor West throghout the years and have always respected, no necessarily agreed , his work. But something funny happened when he teamed up with Tavis Smiley. I believe they both thought they deserved to be walking up and down the corridors of the White House and the Capitol, next to president Obama, holding a cup of coffee and formulating policy for "black America ". Gentlemen stop putting the President down, get together with fifty intellectuals like yourselves and come out with solutions to the current crisis we are experiencing. Your personal attacks and deep seated thirst for personal revenge is not doing anything for our country, regardless of race. Don't let your highly educated mind forget a simple adage: if you are no part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

    February 13, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Decent American

      Obama is the President for Wall Street, Investment Banks, Insurance Companies and Big Oil. He doesn't give a damn about real Americans

      February 13, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Butch Griffin

      My thoughts exactly....my only question is what is Dr.West smoking!

      February 13, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • smw

      100% correct

      February 14, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  63. Rebecca

    It is amazing how little accountability anyone has in regards to the culture we have all supported that has systematically kept the poor and their needs unattended. But now so called Americans want to blame the President for what they themselves have done nothing to correct and that includes Cornel West. It's because of aged idiots like him speaking for the poor that nothing will ever be done. If there weren't so many newly poor coming from the middle class do you really think so many people would be so upset? Poverty has always been here so where has all the outrage been? America is full of hypocrites!

    February 13, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  64. Ami0

    According to the Census Department, the number of Children living below the poverty level in America increased by One Million in the year 2010...someone mentions this out loud, directed to the man in charge, and we proceed to engage in a discussion about that man's social standing, social acceptability and most important of all we focus soley on the nappy heads connected to said event. Plain trying to get the 'one-uppitier', played to an audience for whom none of you have any real respect. That includes Steve, whos' comments were the uppiti-erest on this contrived nonsense. Get it? The point is the welfare of the disadvantaged here. Where, and at what point will you write something meaningful on that particular subject matter? Amiel.

    February 13, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • EnoughIsEnough

      I've been listening to Cornel for 35 years. What has he done to uplift anyone in poverty from his ivory tower? Why doesn't he EVER mention the President's increase in funding to Historically Black Colleges & Universities; increase in Pell grants that many blacks and others avail themselves; urban development especially supermarkets where there are none; 3 million additional children (many black) now covered by health care; funding community health centers; creating 3 million jobs despite the Republican obstruction; extension of unemployment compensation, and on and on. But here's the real problem with Cornel West and his cohort Tavis Smilely. Why do they NEVER say anything about the Republican obstruction to the President's initiatives, e.g. the Jobs Bill? Why don't they talk about the Republicans holding the American people hostage over the made-up debt ceiling crisis; their willingness to bring the entire government to a stand still rather than give people unemployment compensation. Who are Cornel and Tavis really working for and to what purpose? I say follow the money!!!

      February 13, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
      • Olivia

        Thank you for your comment. I think it was the most balanced, and really expresses my true feelings about what President Obama has done.

        February 14, 2012 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
      • icunme


        February 14, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  65. R.E.G.

    Cornel West was an idiot and a lunatic when he supported Obama, too. But far be it for CNN to have called him out on it then.

    February 13, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sensibility

      But I guess R.E.G. is a genius compared to Dr.West. Boy, please go read a book and stop using words to describe others that you should use to describe yourself. Calling anyone referenced in this piece and that includes the author an idiot without citing a series of idiotic actions is what's wrong with America now. There is too many people who don't know much and continually make cliche comments without evidence or proof.

      February 13, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  66. dallas.alphonso

    thank you for bring this problem to the general public, he has simply lost it

    February 13, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  67. Don_J

    "Cornel West's 'petty potshots' are beneath him"... actually they're not, it's par for him. Cornell West was exposed last year when he decided that he wanted to debate civil rights and current politics with Rev. Al Sharpton... Rev Al put he "Smack-Down" on him, it's on youtube. All this "brother" is doing is promoting his radio show with Tavis Smiley, another "Brother" who doesn't get it.

    February 13, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  68. UhYeaOk

    So he reminds you of Obamma? Thats what I thought of when I read your description.

    February 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • smarterthanwest

      UhYeaOk your an idiot!!

      February 13, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yakobi

      Who's the bigger idiot–him or you for misspelling your insult?

      February 13, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  69. shawn2011

    I find it very odd that Cornel West suddenly rants and raves that President Obama and his administration are not helping the poor and all he ever seems to do is position himself in front of a camera and denigrate others ! Dr. West would be a lot more credible if he actually worked on behalf of the poor that he pretends to advocate for. Dr. West and Tavis Smiley are two of a kind ! Egotistical and arrogant !

    February 13, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don_J

      DITTO, you are absolutely spot on!

      February 13, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  70. Eric

    Dr. West has turned into a blowhard... His idea of what isn't being done sounds GOP-like to me. LoL!

    February 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • UhYeaOk

      No, he sounds like someone who at first was dumb enough to vote for Obama, then he saw what a joke of a president he is and he has turned on him. This is nothing new, there are millions of people who feel as if Obama lied to them and betrayed them. It doesn't take a Republican to point out the obvious.

      February 13, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
      • Don_J

        No... he sounds like someone who never liked President (you can say it) Obama and will hate at every opportunity he can get. No, he sound just like you... a GOP hit man, but nobody is listening to him.

        February 13, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
      • brian in DC

        Prof. West is spot on with his analysis of "The Fraud". Crony capitalism at its finest.The Fraud will lie, cheat, and steal to get another 4 more years, nothing is beneath him.

        February 13, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
      • Perfesser33

        Buyer's remorse, they just cannot stand the truth. And, if you correct someone's grammar and spelling, be kind enough to ensure that yours is correct.

        February 13, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  71. Booo

    Wow lots of typos. Thanks blackberry!

    February 13, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  72. Booo

    Dr. West is certainly disappointing, to say the least. While I do believe it is his right to give negatives or postice views of any president's policies – black or otherwise – the way he goes about it has become off-putting. Yes, we should discuss the plight of the poor, but Dr. West does them a disservice with his antics.

    February 13, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • UhYeaOk

      No worse than Al AintsoSharpton and his posse.

      February 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
      • CTYank

        You sez. Guessing?

        February 14, 2012 at 5:50 am | Report abuse |
  73. Ami0

    "Just because he has challenged one of your feminist sacred cows...", lends palatable logic here. You burden us with this contrived rant, rendered legitimate to the public at all because you previously wrote for two Washingtonpost websites (who in my experience are more than pleased to publish material that suit the owners political agenda). You have slanted the mans words, continually, throughout your presentation. And this is not the first time you have attacked Dr. West, twisting his remarks and misleading readers about him at a completely personal level. Your remarks are quite slanderous it occours to me. Look forward to reading more of your work. Amiel.

    February 13, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • EnoughIsEnough

      We are not children here. We don't need you to decipher anything for us. As I said, I have listened to Cornel for 35 years. I heard him say out of his own month how put out he was because he didn't get an inauguration ticket from President Obama and that the President hadn't returned his phone calls. Cornel has let the pettiness override any good sense he may still have. It's too bad, because you may be his defender, but you are definitely in the minority. Even Michael Eric Dyson has called him out for his bad behavior.

      February 13, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  74. Mike

    I have seen all of the above on tv and in various media and found all of them to be intellectually deprived and logic deficent, and I cannot imagine How any intelligent person would credit anything any of them said.

    February 13, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  75. Proverbial Black MAn

    Black On Black crime comes in various shapes and styles.

    February 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  76. busman19d

    He is correct. Al Sharpton is a horrible role model for Black Youths he starts talking only if a camera is turned on. Maybe MR West feels the President isnt keeping his word and doesnt agree with the President anymore.

    February 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • UhYeaOk

      Shhh! Liberals don't like people using logic on them....

      February 13, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
      • John

        When we hear you utter a logical statement we will be happy to acknowledge it. Given your other juvenile comments that seems unlikely, however.

        February 13, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  77. ChaiTeaAz

    The author accused " Dr. West has officially exited the arena of intellectual jousting...and has entered into the realm of petty pot shots" then resorts to the realm of pot shots herself with statement such as "short-tempered bomb thrower settling personal scores is a tragedy... which just makes him look like half the intellectual he once was." Lady, just because challenging one of your feminist sacred cows, you don't have to g on a personal attack.

    February 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kaci

      Are you writing under more than one name or borrowing other people's words?

      February 13, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  78. Paul Revere

    Hey cnn editors keep up the good communist editing

    February 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dale

      Does your mommy know you're using the computer?

      February 13, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  79. deron

    why do anybody care what this man has to say anyway..

    February 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  80. Ann

    Maybe Barack Obama has not consulted with this "pompos ass" or had him over at the White House. Seems to me that Cornel West's critique of the President is fradulent and disingeneous because I don't recall that he has had a long standing history of being thist bombastic on behalf of the poor. What a nut!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 13, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  81. penguin

    Neither Dr West nor Dr Harris-Perry are very smart. Both play the victim of race discrimination to the hilt. Racism still exists and is a serious problem, but not every ill that befalls a person of color is the result of racism.

    February 13, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • UhYeaOk

      See what you dummiecrats have created over the last 30 years? You can have your cake and eat it too...

      February 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
      • militant marker

        "See what you dummiecrats have created over the last 30 years? You can have your cake and eat it too..."
        Uh, 20 of the last 33 years were Republican presidents dolt. You're trying way to hard to troll. #QuitWhileYoureBehind

        February 13, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dale

        Does your mommy know you're using the computer–and you're skipping history class again aren't you? It shows.

        February 13, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kelly

        Haa, you guys (Dale & Militants Marker) accuse UhYeahOk of not taking a history class because of his remark.. I think maybe it's you who failed to take a "reading comprehension" class. No where does he say he was referring to the presidency. You do know that we have three branches of government? Or maybe you guys skipped the government class also.. 🙂

        February 13, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  82. Anti-hate

    If he's so concerned, why is he sitting in front of the media griping, instead of going out and helping? A person can be green with polka dots for all I care, I'm not gonna waste time listening to a biased moron.

    February 13, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  83. sweets75243@yahoo.com

    He's right

    February 13, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |