Supplemental: Something Professor Dyson missed!


Professor West on Fox:
We’ve never exactly understood Cornel West.

We’ve never read his books. We’ve never heard anyone try to explain what it says in those books.

Last weekend, in the New Republic, Professor Dyson published a lengthy, aggressive critique of Professor West’s conduct during the Obama years.

You can decide what you think for yourselves. We were struck by something Dyson missed.

At one point, Dyson challenges West for saying that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are “ontologically addicted to the camera.” In response to that criticism, Dyson offers this:
DYSON (4/19/15): The hypocrisy in such claims is acute: West likewise hungers for the studio, and conspicuously so. There he is on CNN, extolling his prophetic pedigree. There he is on MSNBC, discussing his arrest in Ferguson while footage of the event rolls. There he is in the recording booth making not spoken word or hip-hop, but a grimly earnest sonic hybrid of speech and music, and saying, “If I can reach one young person with a message embedded in a sound that stirs his or her soul, then I have not labored in vain.” There he is in The Matrix sequels, doing something he’s become tragicomically good at—playing an unintentional caricature of his identity.
Whatever! As Dyson notes, a lot of people may sometimes seem to be “addicted to the camera” (though perhaps not ontologically). We were struck by Dyson’s failure to describe Professor West’s appearances on Fox.

Forget about West on CNN! Below, you see him on Fox, last October, with his brother and friend, Sean Hannity.

Professor West was promoting a book. For purposes of pondering, we’ll show you a fairly good chunk of the discussion.

In this first chunk, West seems to vouch for Hannity’s overall good intentions. To watch the whole session, click here:
HANNITY (10/22/14): Here now to discuss the very latest revelations out of Ferguson, author of the brand-new book—there you see it—Black Prophetic Fire, our friend, Professor Cornel West, is with us.

How are you, my friend? Good to see you. Enjoy having you in studio.


HANNITY: You've been a critic of Barack Obama. Every election season—this drives me crazy. I'm a conservative. I think we're all children of God. I don't like racism.

WEST: You and I agree—you and I agree with that. We surprise a lot of people because they want, “Brother West, why is it that Sean Hannity is your brother?”

I said, “Yes, he is my brother. We might agree on 12 percent of—”

HANNITY: We were hugging on the streets of New York!

WEST: “He is my brother. Why? Because we're human beings, we're wrestling with what it means to be human.” But at the same time, we can have our disagreements, and it's very real because when it comes to wealth inequality, when it comes to prison-industrial complex, when it comes to the plight of our children, we're concerned about it, but we have different ways of going about it.

HANNITY: Different approaches.
As a general matter, we’re strongly in favor of outreach to the other tribe. Even for us, this vouching for Hannity’s good intentions seemed a bit extreme.

As the conversation continued, Hannity played tape of Democratic Party campaign ads, past and present. We thought West’s level of agreement with Hannity became even more surprising:
HANNITY: Let me show a history of Democrats in election years using the race card. And then I'm going to show you what they're doing this year. Watch this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you don't vote, you let another church explode. When you don't vote, you allow another cross to burn.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On June 7th, 1998, in Texas, my father was killed. He was beaten, chained and then dragged three miles to his death all because he was black. So when Governor George W. Bush refused to support hate crimes legislation, it was like my father was killed all over again.
AL GORE: They are in favor of affirmative action if you can dunk the basketball or sink a three-point shot! But they're not in favor of it if you merely have the potential to be a leader in your community! Don't tell me we've got a colorblind society!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're going to put y'all back in chains.
JIMMY CARTER: An overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Say no to the racist agenda of Chris McDaniel and his Tea Party.

HANNITY: All right, that's the past. Here's this election. You got a poster put out: “Kay Hagan doesn't win, Obama's impeachment will begin,” and it’s leaflets that are being put in predominantly black neighborhoods. And the same thing in Atlanta. You can see it right there. You got these two little girls, posters in Georgia evoking Ferguson in an effort to get out the black vote.

Does that disgust you as much as it does me? That disgusts me.

WEST: Well, I think, as you know, I have a disgust in some ways with both parties. The Republican Party has always struck me as too mean-spirited when it comes to its attitudes towards the poor. And the Democratic Party's too milquetoast, just too empty in terms of not taking a stand. But we just have to be clear, there's one standard: Stay in contact with the humanity of folk across the board. No racist appeals.

Willie Horton? Jesse Helms? We got both parties—

HANNITY: But every year, isn't this to gin up the black vote, to create a false narrative? You know, isn't bearing false witness one of those big commandments that we read about?

WEST: It's wrong. It's wrong. But there's no doubt, I think, black brother and sisters will vote disproportionately for a Democratic Party because they still see in the Republican party too many folk, when they talk about black people, it's a matter of black people themselves bearing all the responsibility or most responsibility as opposed to some of the societal institutions.
A bit later, the buddy-buddy part of the segment really got ramped up. Professor West’s book got promoted again as the two gents considering getting a room:
HANNITY: Are these ads similar to what you condemn in the Republicans?

WEST: I condemn both of them. We have to have a higher standard. Where is the integrity, honesty, decency across the board?

HANNITY: When are we going to do an event together? I want to be on stage.

WEST: You let me know.

HANNITY: I'm in.

WEST: You let me know.

HANNITY: All right. The book is called Black Prophetic Fire. You look at Malcolm X—

WEST: Frederick Douglas, Ida B. Wells, the great Ella Baker, and Malcolm and Martin. A lot of great tradition.

HANNITY: No better speaker than Martin Luther King.

WEST: Oh, yes. And he was on fire with love.

HANNITY: All right, good to see you, Cornel. Thank you, professor.
We saw this interview in real time. We found it somewhat surprising.

We’ll guess that Dyson didn’t know about this non-CNN appearance. The liberal world is rarely aware of what transpires on Fox.

Two months earlier, during Ferguson: Two months earlier, West had appeared on Hannity’s program in the first few days of the Ferguson episode.

These high-ranking professors today! Here’s part of what was said:
HANNITY (8/12/14): Let's see if we can find some agreement.

WEST: I come from people who have been terrorized and traumatized in the United States, American terrorism. Michael Brown and his precious mother—

HANNITY: A kid was killed. Do you know what happened?

WEST: —another instance of American terrorism coming at an innocent, young, precious black brother.

HANNITY: Why did you rush to judgment? Because the police say he was reaching—I wasn't there, and you weren't there. You can't call it terrorism if you're not there.

WEST: Because when you kill an unarmed, innocent brother, how in fact could it be anything else?

HANNITY: Hang on!

WEST: What could he have done to warrant being shot like that?

HANNITY: If you're reaching for the gun of the police officer, you're no longer unarmed.

WEST: His hands are up. He's shot 10 times.


HANNITY: Let me ask you something. Do you believe people are innocent in America until proven guilty?

WEST: They should be.

HANNITY: That police officer is assumed innocent?

WEST: He should have a fair trial.

HANNITY: And you just called him a terrorist and convicted him without the benefit of a trial.

WEST: Because the bullet came from someone, and it—

HANNITY: You don't know the circumstances. Do you? You weren't there.

WEST: You got a good point. It's hard for me to conceive—

HANNITY: He's assumed innocent.

WEST: He's assumed innocent. But a precious child has been killed.
Oof! Conservatives sometimes see us on Fox and judge that we aren’t “all that.”

(In our view, other parts of this August interview were constructive, were good for Fox viewers to see.)


  1. If someone is trying to sell a book, of course they will appear wherever they can to promote it. They will also be nicer to the hosts of such shows when they have income at stake.

    Back in the 1970's, I worked as a community organizer in Chicago, much like Obama did. There was a small jobs program (Una Puerta Abierta) on the West side, serving a Puerto Rican clientele, that organized a "March for Jobs" that arrived at the Mayor's office to demand more work for Latinos. A local TV station covered the event. Somehow Jessie Jackson got wind of the plans and showed up at the Mayor's Office. Once he arrived, the press didn't want to talk to the actual organizers of the march -- they focused exclusively on him and he made an eloquent plea for more jobs and job training. The people who actually conducted the march were shut out. It wouldn't have mattered except that Latino and African Americans were not allied in their efforts but were played off against each other by the city officials. There was no communication or cooperation between Jackson and the group whose efforts he usurped. There was a lot of ill feeling over that maneuver. Jackson has a reputation for doing this kind of thing to others. That may be what Cornel West was talking about.

    1. Who decided Jackson has a reputation for doing this kind of thing? Would you kindly cite someone?

    2. Why ask Obama when he have the testimony of our very own Anonymous? You can ask anyone. The Anonymous family of commenters have a long standing reputation for truth equaled only by the Washingtons of Westmoreland County.

    3. Ask anyone involved in Chicago politics. Or anyone in the larger civil rights movement in that time period. It came up as a criticism when he ran for president. West didn't invent the characterization.

  2. Good intentions are pretty similar at a global level. I think most people favor peace and prosperity, oppose racism, want an unpolluted environment, etc. The difference arises in the beliefs of which policies will promote these shared values. E.g., many liberals want a higher minimum wage and amnesty for illegal immigrants, while opposing school vouchers. IMHO these policies are bad for black Americans. That doesn't mean that they're racists. They simply disagree with me about the impact of the policies they favor.

    1. "Eg., many conservatives/tea party members/ .00001% shills want reduced or non-existent taxes for corporations, investment-income earners and multinational corporations at the expense of the working poor that make the working poor poorer, making it impossible or next to impossible for the poor to vote, obtain decent healthcare or employment above subsistence level, and re-segregated schools in the guise of non-public schools of varying descriptions funded by vouchers. IMHO these policies are bad for black Americans. That doesn't rule out the possibility that they are racist nor does it rule out that they simply disagree with me about the impact of the policies they try to destroy America with."

      FTFY - you're welcome.

    2. Exactly. You think corporate income taxes help the working poor. I think they hurt the working poor, because they drive jobs overseas.

    3. Pollution standards, developed world level wages, and safety regimens drive jobs overseas. That's why we should get rid of restrictions on how much our benefactors pollute, the expectation cemented into place by minimum wage laws that working class Americans ought to be able to make more than $10,000 a year working 10 hour days, six days a week, and that we should go back to the good old days when there wasn't any compensation for someone dumb enough to get maimed on the job.

      However, David in Cal is wrong about corporate income taxes discouraging conglomerate or their subsidiaries from locating here. I'm sure he'll recall often making the argument that corporations just pass along the cost of any taxes to consumers.

    4. "I think" - FULL STOP!

    5. CMike -- I'm thinking more about independent companies than conglomerates. For several years I was brought to Bermuda from California to work for a company that was founded by an American. The company paid my air fare, hotel, and food. The company was based in Bermuda solely because there was no corporate income tax. Expenses were higher in Bermuda,but the tax difference still made Bermuda a more desirable location. If the US had no corporate income tax, this company would have been based here.

    6. CMike - if you believe this twit's "anecdote", I have some real nice property in southwest Florida you might be interested in buying.

    7. So David we are on the same page then, the United States should only sign bilateral trade agreements and otherwise take steps to protect our market from goods produced by exploited labor, polluters, and by companies allegedly or actually headquartered in tax havens.

    8. We could do that CMike, but what about the rest of the world? If US companies can't compete wIth companies from low-tax areas, we will lose the entire world market.

      Also, high tariffs of the sort you propose would hurt less wealthy Americans, because they would have to pay more for imported goods.

      Also, foreign countries would retaliate by putting up barriers to US products, so American companies an American workers would suffer.

    9. Right David, all those countries that wouldn't want trade relations with the one with that had the greatest demand for consumer goods in the world could go their own way. And you're right too because of tariffs American workers would indeed have to pay higher prices out of their own higher wages for imports from countries with which the U.S. otherwise would be running massive trade deficits or, in the alternative, buy American.

      Of course, with higher labor costs for domestically produced goods you'd also see a return to the increased efficiency arc that so dazzled the world through the 50s and 60s before business found a way to return to its roots of exploiting sweat shop labor by escaping from the land of recently organized labor.

      (He may have a few leaks in his academic play but David Graeber is on to something fundamental here [LINK]:

      >>>[QUOTE] A secret question hovers over us, a sense of disappointment, a broken promise we were given as children about what our adult world was supposed to be like....

      Where, in short, are the flying cars? Where are the force fields, tractor beams, teleportation pods, antigravity sleds, tricorders, immortality drugs, colonies on Mars, and all the other technological wonders any child growing up in the mid-to-late twentieth century assumed would exist by now? Even those inventions that seemed ready to emerge—like cloning or cryogenics—ended up betraying their lofty promises. What happened to them?

      We are well informed of the wonders of computers, as if this is some sort of unanticipated compensation, but, in fact, we haven’t moved even computing to the point of progress that people in the fifties expected we’d have reached by now. We don’t have computers we can have an interesting conversation with, or robots that can walk our dogs or take our clothes to the Laundromat....

      End of work arguments were popular in the late seventies and early eighties as social thinkers pondered what would happen to the traditional working-class-led popular struggle once the working class no longer existed....

      What happened, instead, is that the spread of information technologies and new ways of organizing transport—the containerization of shipping, for example—allowed those same industrial jobs to be outsourced to East Asia, Latin America, and other countries where the availability of cheap labor allowed manufacturers to employ much less technologically sophisticated production-line techniques than they would have been obliged to employ at home.
      [END QUOTE]<<<

    10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    11. "For several years I was brought to Bermuda from California to work for a company that was founded by an American. The company paid my air fare, hotel, and food. The company was based in Bermuda solely because there was no corporate income tax."

      That's nice David. So this American, who has benefited from all the advantages and protections of being an American decides to incorporate in Bermuda to avoid paying taxes to his own country. And you admire that. He's saving a few bucks. How very patriotic.

      Stanley Works, for 159 years a Connecticut maker of hammers and wrenches, is among the latest with plans to become a corporation in Bermuda, where there is no income tax. The company estimates that it will cut its tax bill by $30 million a year, to about $80 million.

      Tyco International, a diversified manufacturer with headquarters in Exeter, N.H., says that being a Bermuda corporation saved it more than $400 million last year alone. Other companies that have incorporated in Bermuda or plan to do so include Global Crossing, a Beverly Hills, Calif., telecommunications company; Ingersoll-Rand and Foster Wheeler, both New Jersey industrial manufacturers; Nabors Industries, a Texas company that is the nation's largest oil well services company; and Cooper Industries, a Houston manufacturer of industrial equipment.

      Becoming a Bermuda company is a paper transaction, as easy as securing a mail drop there and paying some fees, while keeping the working headquarters back in the United States.

      Bermuda is charging Ingersoll-Rand just $27,653 a year for a move that allows the company to avoid at least $40 million annually in American corporate income taxes.

      The company is not required to conduct any meetings in Bermuda and will not even have an office there, said its chief financial officer, David W. Devonshire.

      ''We just pay a service organization'' to accept mail, he said.

      Kate Barton, an Ernst & Young tax partner, said that incorporating in Bermuda ''is a megatrend we are seeing in the marketplace right now.'' Many corporations that are planning the move have not yet announced it, she said.

      In a Webcast to clients, Ms. Barton cited patriotism as the only potentially troubling issue that corporations consider before moving to Bermuda, and she said that profits trumped patriotism.

    12. mm if I read your response right, David inCal was being flown to Bermuda by a tax avoiding company that did not need to pay to fly him to Bermuda or move a single job there. How stupid is that company to waste such money on our friend, or perhaps, how phony is the claim about it?

    13. David has told this story on many previous occasions. I have no reason to doubt that he is relating his true experience, but I would like to know just what kind of company this was. Did they set up factories in Bermuda? Did they relocate all their employees to Bermuda or just set up a mail drop like so many other American companies have done just to avoid their patriotic duty.

      Look at just one example from the article. Stanley Works, a company with a 159 year history as an American Company. Evidently, the corporate tax rate couldn't have been so onerous and oppressive. Yet their tax lawyers decided to incorporate in Bermuda so they could avoid paying taxes to the country that has protected them and gave them all the advantages for over a century and a half. Obviously they aren't moving their factories and their entire operation to Bermuda. Where do you think all those extra tax dollars went? Did they cut prices on their hammers? Or did it go into the pockets of the company executives and share holders?

    14. Mm -- Whether or not I admire the founding of is company in Bermuda Is beside the point. The reality is that it's sitting in Hamilton rather than New York and providing jobs to Bermudians. If the US had no corporate income tax, we would have a lot more jobs here.

      Anon 9:18 -- Stanley works cannot avoid paying US income tax on its US operations. However, by incorporating in Bermuda, it can avoid paying US income tax on its non-US operations.

      There are other complexities of the tax law that must be dealt with. Bottom line -- The company I worked for had to do all it's work in Bermuda or outside the US in order to avoid US corporate tax.

    15. Let 'em leave.
      When they want the most powerful military in the history of mankind to protect their overseas assets, ask them , "Who are you?"
      They'll come running back to "Daddy Government" faster than a College Republican runs from a military recruiter.

    16. Of course David's company was attracted by the large labor force in Bermuda as well. Look out America,

    17. mm --I consulted for a reinsurance company in Bermuda. It was Renaissance Re.

      Anon -- As you were perhaps hinting, the power of zero income tax was sufficient to persuade Renaissance and other companies to domicile in Bermuda, despite the lack of an appropriate labor force. Imagine how many new companies would domicile in the US, where we do have a good labor force, if the US had zero corporate income tax!

    18. I'm all for it, DinC. In fact, I'll throw in this little chestnut for companies: No fines need be levied against companies which break the law.

      In excahnge, we pass the "Death Penalty for Businesses Act" (since you can't throw these "people" in prison).
      When a business commits a crime, the government shuts it down, sells off their assets, and bars board members from receiving a business license in the future.
      Imagine how many honest companies would domicile in the US, knowing that crooks can't be their competition.
      Of course, we still need the revenue we're forgoing through the zero corporate income tax, so we we can make that up by going back to Ike's personal income tax rates.


    19. D,

      Maybe there was another reason this company set up shop in Bermuda besides the onerous and punitive US corporate tax rate.

      "Insurers have also flocked to Bermuda to escape most insurance regulations, including how much money they must hold in reserve to pay claims."

      By the way, what foreign companies was Renaissance competing with?

    20. Good guess mm, but no. Ren Re was and is regulated pretty much the same as if they were based in the US, particularly since they on the New York Stock Exchange. And, they most definitely have had sufficient reserves to pay their claims. I know that because I am an expert in that. In fact, my expertise in claim reserves is why I was hired by them.

    21. CMike: As always, it's refreshing to see the movement liberal case for good public policy stated so well.

  3. Warning to casual readers of this blog: This comment box, while unmoderated, is mostly empty. It is either because the infestation of trolls has driven all the good commenters away who hold the blog author in high esteem, or because, as the blog author has noted, liberals don't care about black children, much less black professors
    in an intellectual pissing match.

    Come back if one of them gets shot by police or even arrested on his front porch.

    PS. Ignore David inCal's continued presence. Wild horses couldn't drag him away, much less pesky trolls.

  4. "Because the bullet came from somewhere." Behold the modern liberal standard of proof.

    1. And behold the ridiculous framing of the issue from the teahadist.

    2. Anonymous @ 12:18 - 8:56 = just some more conventional wisdom from this blog's current fanbase.

  5. And behold both my brothers above, something that 8:56 missed. The quote is about a liberal guy who considers himself a prophet but is the subject of the post because another liberal guy wrote an article pointing out he is not.

    BTW, I was struck by something Somerby missed, or at least did not include from Dyson.

    "As a freelancing, itinerant, nonordained, self-anointed prophet, West has only to answer to himself....

    In truth, West is a scold, a curmudgeonly and bitter critic who has grown long in the tooth but sharp in the tongue when lashing one-time colleagues and allies."

  6. "We’ve never exactly understood Cornel West.

    We’ve never read his books. We’ve never heard anyone try to explain what it says in those books."

    But that won't stop us....

    1. Sigh. The blog is not about Cornel West or anything he believes. It is about the relationship between Mr. West and the media. You don't have to read his books to watch what is happening and comment on it. I'm sure there are other blogs where you can have a debate about the merits of Cornel West's philosophy. This is not intended to be that blog.

    2. Moan. @ 12:56 I don't understand your comment. I'm not sure if you have written any before nor have I read any in which other commenter better explain what you have said.

      You seem to have overlooked the extent to which Somerby focuses on Hannity and O'Reilly and their frequent courting of the black dissident left. I am not sure what they are saying because parts of the transcripts are left out, and I don't watch the programs myself or read any of Hannity or O'Reilly's books.

      I am not sure if there are other blogs which force you to read unmoderated comments. You don't have to read this one or comment either.