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.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.
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 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.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:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
HANNITY: Are these ads similar to what you condemn in the Republicans?We saw this interview in real time. We found it somewhat surprising.
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’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.Oof! Conservatives sometimes see us on Fox and judge that we aren’t “all that.”
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.
(In our view, other parts of this August interview were constructive, were good for Fox viewers to see.)