In the latest bit of “oh, it’s Tuesday again?” scholar and budding theologian Cornel West has gone on the record of calling President Barack Obama a “global George Zimmerman” due to the president’s use of drone strikes against potential terrorist targets. The strikes, which are problematic, are more of a deadly imperfect way of satisfying Americans fears of overseas terror without invading a country … again.
I won’t bother to defend the president on the drone strikes other than saying any American president would be doing something similar (or worse) since America is a greatly flawed country that is fighting an near unwinnable war on terror and America presidents are required to “get tough” on people we perceive as enemies overseas in the same way local governments “get tough on crime.” It leads to a lopsided result that’s grossly unfair and often creates the very danger it’s supposed to stopping. (I imagine nothing could radicalize a kid like his family getting blown away in a drone strike.) But what Prof. West is complaining about is really an “American” problem. But it’s just not as sexy to say America is a global George Zimmerman, profiling the world of terrorists and killing them without trial. The President isn’t ordering these drone strikes in a vacuum.
So, like many times before, I’m with Prof. West until he reaches this point where he always goes off the deep end and acts like President Obama is the villain the Ninja Turtles fight on Saturdays.
There’s a way to put pressure on the administration about drone strikes or poverty or racism without alienating the multitudes of African Americans who still support and like the president, but Cornel West (and his oft cohort Tavis Smiley), seem intent on going the nuclear route.
You can’t even get mad anymore. We get it. You think Obama is the worst. Obama is an extension of an American hegemony that has been trying to tell the rest of the world what to do since the end of WWII. He’s not community-organizer-in-chief. My God, he turned out to be a Commander-In-Chief, warmonger just like every other U.S. president! This, of course, forgets that Obama thought to fix the machine he had to become a part of it and work from the inside and found that to be a much harder task than he ever imagined.
Think about it. As much as people in 2008 hoped Obama would change Washington, Obama also though by the sheer power of his charm, will and desire he too would change Washington and you know what Washington did when he tried to close GITMO or tried for Universal Healthcare like the kind in Canada or dared to say the officer who arrested Prof. Skip Gates in front of his own house “acted stupidly”, Washington slapped him down and told him “We’re not changing. Not for you. Not for the people. Not for the good of the country. Not for anyone. We like ourselves as we are – completely screwed up and in the pocket of the military industrial complex.”
The U.S. Congress might as well wear its near negative approval rating like a badge of honor.
Tavis Smiley can criticize the sincerity of Obama’s speech on the killing of Trayvon Martin and the George Zimmerman verdict. Cornel West can get into verbal slap boxing matches with fellow professors who disagree with him, like Melissa Harris Perry. They’re both free to criticize in the most sensational way possible as they like, but they can’t do that and NOT expect blow back, criticism and rejection of their own. You can’t win over the public you claim you’re trying to save – black people – with hate. No one’s expecting them to slap on a grin and pretend like they like Obama, but how do you fix a system from the outside by screaming obscenities at it? What’s the end game here?
I don’t know exactly why West and Smiley are so unreasonable when it comes to Obama. I could psychoanalyze it and say it’s about Smiley entertaining fantasies of being Black America’s shining prince only to be surpassed by a man with a photogenic family and nuclear launch codes. I could say Prof. West is still mad about those inauguration tickets. But whatever it is, this folie a deux is determined to be the “voice” of black discontent in the Age of Obama, even if it’s just them and maybe a few of the really crazy Black Republicans even the other Black Republicans don’t claim. (Think Allen West.)
It must get cold there in his shadow and never get sunlight on your face, guys. But come up with some new material. It’s becoming less shocking and more just sad.