Cornell West has been out bashing President Obama, much of it for pettiness such as not getting calls from him during the campaign and not getting a ticket to the inauguration in January of 2009. Chris Hedges at Truthdig has the story that is creating all the buzz(kill). The passage below reads to me a lot like the grumblings during the 2008 primaries that candidate Obama wasn’t black enough. Read this passage and decide for yourself.
“I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men,” West says. “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. He is just as human as I am, but that is his cultural formation. When he meets an independent black brother, it is frightening. And that’s true for a white brother. When you get a white brother who meets a free, independent black man, they got to be mature to really embrace fully what the brother is saying to them. It’s a tension, given the history. It can be overcome. Obama, coming out of Kansas influence, white, loving grandparents, coming out of Hawaii and Indonesia, when he meets these independent black folk who have a history of slavery, Jim Crow, Jane Crow and so on, he is very apprehensive. He has a certain rootlessness, a deracination. It is understandable.”
As I was reading that passage, it reminded me of this clip that, to me, is one of the all time greatest political clips ever. As an Obama supporter from day 1 and after suffering through some nasty tactics by Hillary and the gang, when Dick Gregory said this at the State of Black Union ’08, it was just amazing. Notice who else is on the panel.
I had the great fortune and honor to interview Dick Gregory for my last documentary, a 45 minute long interview that was mostly off the topic I was exploring, but a lot of fascinating stuff. I’ve thought about going back and doing something with that footage. Some day.
I have to give Cornell West credit for laying it all right out there for us to see, rough edges and all. I wish I could be a fly on the wall the next time Cornell and President Obama get a chance to talk. There is so much wrong with what I read in the Hedges piece, but I’ll leave that to others to dissect. But in my looking for the above Dick Gregory clip, I came across this one too. Completely off topic, but I just had to share it. He is one funny man.
UPDATE: Go read Melissa Harris-Perry’s response to Cornel West at the Nation. It’s very good.
The election of President Barack Obama was monumental in so many ways. That’s pretty obvious, I know. Lately, I’ve been trying to understand some people’s extreme hatred for a man with this face.
I mean really, I do not understand how – even if they don’t agree with the mans policies – they can’t see that he is a nice person. Well, it turns out that people really do think he is a nice person, contrary to the many warped memes that get trotted out on television or the vitriol coming from some in the Professional Left – the usual suspects. A recent poll by Politico did the radical thing and asked a poll question that actually attempted to get at that. From Politico with this headline Barack Obama’s Personal Approval Rating Hits 72% In Battleground States…
If you want to know why Barack Obama is looking good for reelection despite the our nation’s economic struggles, the new Politico/GWU poll has your answer. 72% of voters in battleground states approve of Obama as a person.
I’ve seen similar results on similar questions and it shows that a very large percentage see him as he actually is, a very genuine, intelligent, nice man. I’m a little freaked out by the “approve of him as a person”, as opposed to what? And really, it does leave 28% who either don’t approve of him as a person or don’t know. I can only imagine how that group breaks out. Certainly the “racists” make up a large percentage of that, from the right and the left. And I would assume some are just hard core Republicans who would spit on any damn liberal. Kind of how I feel about Republicans. :) And then there are, for lack of a better term, “The Naderites”, who don’t like anyone, they all suck, Democrats and Republicans. I’m sure there are others, but those are what come to my mind.
And I am encouraged that 72% of the American people are smart enough to be able to tell that he is a good person. I occasionally have up this Kurt Vonnegut quote “The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart.” I have to remind myself when reading these polls that they do include some people who are absolutely clueless, the ones that can’t name who the president is or who was buried in Grant’s tomb. They more than likely won’t vote, but I’m afraid they get included in the results of these “years out” polls.
I’m actually encouraged by that 72% number because with that many people who are capable of rational thought, all the Obama campaign has to do is point people to this website, or this one, or how about this great Youtube clip. It will be easy to get 51% of those people to realize that this genuinely nice man in the picture and on the TV really does care. He really is trying to move the country forward for all people. Share those links with all your friends, put them in emails, help spread the truth. I have a feeling a lot of people who consider themselves well informed aren’t aware of all that has been done in the last two and a half years. Here are a few of my favorites.
Authorized the US auto industry rescue plan and two GMAC rescue packages (2009)
Authorized a $789 billion economic stimulus plan (2009) * Note: 1/3 in tax cuts for working-class families; 1/3 to states for infrastructure projects; 1/3 to states to prevent the layoff of police officers, teachers, etc. at risk of losing their jobs because of state budget shortfalls
Credit card companies are prohibited from raising rates without advance notification or arbitrarily if customers are paying bills on time (2010)
Authorized the “Cash for Clunkers” program that stimulated auto sales and removed old, inefficient, polluting cars from the road (2009)
Signed the Affordable Care Act. The historic healthcare reform bill – $940 billion over 10 years (2010)
Instituted enforcements for equal pay for women (Lilly Ledbetter Bill) (2009)
Appointed Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina, to the Supreme Court (2009)
Signed the first major piece of federal gay rights legislation that includes acts of violence against gays under the list of federal hate crimes (2009)
Signed the Tribal Law and Order Act which does this. “Tribes will now have the right–and the resources–to investigate and prosecute rapes perpetrated by non-Natives on tribal lands.
That’s only a tiny sliver of great things or progress, that has been made in the last two and a half years. I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again, President Obama is the best president we’ve ever had. He has set a new standard for presidents.