Here Is What's Wrong With Cornel West Hating on Ta-Nehisi Coates

Comments

3
I like brother West. But this leftist penchant to just toss the scare word "neoliberal" in front of everything you kinda don't like but can't really articulate why is childish and betrays profound ignorance of what the word actually means. It's the lefts "communist."
4
Barack Obama did a solid, credible job as president. Facing Republicans' ferocious, ceaseless criticism, he skillfully presented himself as representing popular consensus, not angry partisanship. This helps explain his justified popularity and Republicans' frustration. And, yes, Obama is essentially center-left, not far left. First, he has a right to politically differ from Cornel West. Second, Obama is not a "sell-out," but a deft coalition-builder. Give Obama credit: he faced extremely hostile Republicans with remarkable equanimity and dignity, for which he was rewarded with re-election in 2012.
5
Obama never portrayed himself as a revolutionary, so if anyone thought a black revolutionary had just gotten elected in 2008, that speaks more about them than about Obama.
6
west is stuck in a way because there are limits to black speech in terms of how liberal mainstream adhering writers can write about any one in a victim status. there may be more to wests critique of coates, see mcwhorter and glenn loury for some critiques of coates' robbing black people of agency. maybe some of the above are right about west's ego. at those levels of intellectual celebrity, ego as a variable is not to be overlooked. same with coates. also, their product is more of what their fans already like. so the economic imperative and bias to intellectuals "work" seems also worth considering.
7
Given that Trump was elected anyway, now I kind of wish Obama had gone full SJW on the public's ass.
8
I'd imagine it's Coates political fatalism that makes him a neoliberal darling more than Obama being a fan. I'd also bet that fatalism is what pisses off West the most. Melvin Rodgers wrote a review of the book in the Boston Review, and explained it quite well:

For Coates, the desire to transform the United States reflects a naïve religious longing. When Coates tells us that "cosmic justice, collective hope, and national redemption" are meaningless to him, he is asking black Americans to resist the temptation to allow those things (which all seem to be interchangeable throughout the book) to have meaning for them. This is his “black atheism.”


Then goes on to explain:

We may falter, and the material, psychological, and political goods of white supremacy may deplete our desire to transform. We know the history—from the 1880s to the 1960s—of white backlash in response to a more expansive racial justice. In fact, we are living through one such backlash given the ascendancy of Trump. But our political community is what it is because we have made it this way. It is not fated to be. Believing otherwise makes white supremacy something more than a collection of choices, habits, and practices—it makes it part of human nature itself. Coates wants us to face the facts and embrace black atheism. But throughout the book he often slides from working in the historical register to speaking in the idiom of philosophical metaphysics—at one moment he stands in time and at another he stands outside of it, confidently telling us how history will end. For this reason, Coates doesn't dismantle white supremacy; he ironically provides it with support.

Please understand my concern. Coates is right: he doesn’t have a "responsibility to be hopeful or optimistic or make anyone feel better about the world." We must, as he has often done, speak the truth. But we must not claim to know what we cannot possibly know. Humility creates space for hope.
9
Chareth is, I believe, closer to the truth but I will add that what Charles Mudede had done is a cognitive bait and switch. To wit, the following line of reasoning is unsupported (even the article you cited thereafter doesn't support it):

"One might think this criticism has deep meaning, as its key word, "neoliberal," is not simple at all and still undergoing development. But it doesn't. It only means this: Barack Obama is a fan of Coates' work; therefore, Coates cannot be good or know what black people are going through because in West's view, Obama was a sellout."

Undergoing development? While definitions may vary did ever occur to you Cornell West is using it in a specific sense, regardless of other interpretations? No, and yet you go a step further and lamely attempt psychoanalysis to interpret his "true" meaning without evidence.

Just because CW has criticism (maybe even blindingly so) of Obama does not make his previous or ongoing critiques of TNC invalid. Engage his historical claims or pick another topic.
10
The intellectual gap between the utterly and productive brilliant West of the 1990's and the lazy, bitter hack of the last decade could hardly be sharper or more stark.
11
Coates "doesn't know whether he should hold Obama accountable" for not "doing enough about [inequality]" so it shouldn't surprise anyone that West will hold Coates accountable for not explicitly naming Obama's neoliberal policies. West actually had the courage and intellectual honesty to call Obama on his pursuing business as usual contrarily to coates.

Although Charles says that Obama is a neoliberal, he hardly held him accountable during his 2 terms.
12
black intellectuals seem to have a hard time critiquing each other in a way because all-in solidarity is almost expected and demanded
13
hey?!? ever notice how foreign policy is a blank for coates? thus it is how it is that he is a neoliberal darling: do what thou whilt in mena, the leading black intellectual will not care. (mudede won't either; dang?!?!?!??)
14
I am not stepping into this passionate debate but I do want to point out that it is a MIRACLE that former President Obama made it through his presidency without physical misadventure. I fully expected it TBH. He upheld the dignity of the post and made the USA look good to the rest of the world. In a perfect world we would wake up tomorrow and find the Obama family still in the White House. So slag him all you want but lots of us love that family and think President O and his family did just fine. He was a president, not the second coming FFS.
15
@9 Was there some particular context to West accusing Coates on neoliberalism? I'm familiar with both of them, as well as the concept of neoliberalism, and I'm missing how the description would be applicable to Coates.
16
coates might be a neoliberal in a sense because he seems to be wanting full on helicopter rescue intervention from the bleak world for black people he often depicts, also by tacitly approving the presidency of Obama which had some song neoliberal through lines and some pretty notable neoliberal contributors like clinton and kerry
17
Coates is a conservative. Why I's he so beloved by affluent white liberals? I don't,think this has anything to do with West hating Coatesn he just feels it's important to debate those ideas. We don't do those kinds of debates any more. Especially when it comes to issues like racism and these other "social justice" topics. Its assumed there's one morally virtuous position, "I care" and everyone else, "the deplorables",but it's really not that simple. For the love of God can two black intellectuals debate without comparing it to Jay Z and Nas calling each other's moms hoes. That's not what it is. Whatever personal motivations West has they are secondary to the arguments he is making.