As a rule, we do not post on weekends. But because of the rapidly approaching hurricane and the likelihood of a power outage, I offer today these thoughts inspired by Michael Corey’s last Deliberately Considered post, celebrating the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the Washington Mall, and by Cornel West’s op.ed. piece criticizing the Memorial and Barack Obama in yesterday’s New York Times. -Jeff
I am not a big fan of Cornel West. I liked and learned from his book The American Evasion of Philosophy, but most of his other books and articles involve, in my judgment, little more then posturing and preaching to the converted (I in the main am one of them). He does not take seriously the challenges political life presents. As he shouts slogans, cheers and denounces, I am not sure that he persuades. His and Travis Smiley’s ongoing criticism of President Obama seem to me to be first personal, then political, more the work of celebrity critics than critical intellectuals. That said, I think West’s op.ed. piece has a point, though not as it is directed against Obama and against the importance of symbolism.
“The age of Obama has fallen tragically short of fulfilling King’s prophetic legacy…
As the talk show host Tavis Smiley and I have said in our national tour against poverty, the recent budget deal is only the latest phase of a 30-year, top-down, one-sided war against the poor and working people in the name of a morally bankrupt policy of deregulating markets, lowering taxes and cutting spending for those already socially neglected and economically abandoned. Our two main political parties, each beholden to big money, offer merely alternative versions of oligarchic rule.”
This is unserious. The two parties are very different, and Obama has clearly been trying to address the needs of the socially and economically abandoned in his battle against the Republicans and so called moderate Democrats in Congress: on healthcare policy, financial regulation and jobs. A debt default would not only have hurt Wall Street and Main Street businesses. It would have profoundly affected the poor and working people for . . .