It is no wonder that so many members of the Black political class, especially those that style themselves as “progressives,” are now anxious to revise their Obama-era political histories to put a false distance between themselves and the outgoing administration. Which is why I found it curious that Georgetown University professor and preacher Michael Eric Dyson thinks this is an auspicious time to unleash a bloated, mean-spirited and politically flatulent assault on Dr. Cornel West, a Black public intellectual who risked his “icon” status by breaking with Obama early in the president’s first term, when the center-right nature of his corporation-serving administration became manifest.
Dyson is clearly haunted by “The Ghost of Cornel West,” as The New Republic article is titled. In Georgia, the older country folks used to say that when a “haint” (a ghost) got on top of you in your sleep, you became temporarily paralyzed – a condition sometimes called “being rode by a witch.” Dyson’s obsession with West seems to have paralyzed those parts of his brain that process political facts and issues. In almost 10,000 words, Dyson makes no reference to any substantive political issues that divide he and West, and offers only the slimmest assessment of Obama’s stance on the burning issues of the day. Given such a dirth of actual political analysis of either the Obama presidency or Cornel West’s critique of that presidency, the article is a soaring testament to Dyson’s enormous capacity for bloviation.
But, of course, there is method to Dyson’s meanness. The true purpose of his elongated smear of Dr. West is to demonstrate to Hillary Clinton’s camp that Dyson remains a loyal Democratic Party operative who is available for service to the new regime. Having observed how hugely Al Sharpton prospered as President Obama’s pit bull against Black dissent, Dyson offers unto Caesarius Hillarius (“We came, we saw, he died,” as she said of Gaddafi) the iconic head of the nation’s best known Black dissident.