Praised for his “ferocious moral vision” Cornel West wasted little time living up to his reputation as one of America’s most provocative public intellectuals. Speaking to a crowd of more than 1,000 people at Riverside City College (RCC) recently, the fiery orator took direct aim at President Barack Obama‘s policies toward the poor and working class calling them ‘elitist and disappointing’. “There’s a Black man on top and millions of Black folks in the basement,” said West.
“I applaud his brilliance and charisma, he changed the image of America, but where is the discourse on jobs for the working class and poor. He’s giving speeches in Detroit but I won’t hear him talking about that city’s 25 percent unemployment among Black men. Job creation has been pushed to the margins.” he said.
The culprit? Greed, says West, manifest in the action of players on Wall Street, “our televisual culture that’s obsessed with superficial spectacle” and the education system “where the model becomes central.”
He said the ‘persistence of poverty produces levels of despair that deepen social conflict; the escalation of paranoia produces levels of distrust that reinforce cultural division’.
“There’s a sense that the country is in paralysis. Americans like to believe they can solve any problem. When they’re in paralysis they start blaming folk. Unfortunately, they blame the weak they scapegoat,” said West in interviews before and after his lecture.
West urged President Obama to resists calls from Republicans, who this month took control of the House of Representatives and closed in on the Democrat’s Senate majority.
“He loves consensus, he loves bipartisan agreement and that’s fine, but when it’s clear that the other side has absolutely no interest whatsoever in that kind of consensus, you got to draw a line in the sand and dig in,” he said. [READ MORE]