Michael Eric Dyson has a bone to pick with Cornel West. But some think that 10,000 words was a bit much and overkill. In a post for The New Republic, Dyson aired his grievances against his former friend, Cornel West. Dyson basically labeled West angry and although once a great academic, has let his bitterness towards President Obama destroy him.
West’s aggressions brought me great sorrow. In his anger toward me I was forced, for the first time, to entertain seriously the wild accusations levied against him: that he was consumed with jealousy of Obama, that he simply couldn’t abide the rise of a figure who eclipsed most other black personalities for the time being and who, for many, even competed with King for recognition as the “greatest black man in American history.” I still don’t buy those theories, but I do think West’s deep loathing of Obama draws on some profoundly personal energy that is ultimately irrational—it’s a species of antipathy that no political difference could ever explain. It is sad to think that West aimed at me because my criticism failed to comport with his shrill and manic dispute with the president; our lost friendship is the collateral damage of his war on Obama.
West has sacrificed friendships and cut ties with former comrades because he insists that only outright denunciation of Obama will do. It is a colossal loss for such a gifted man to surrender to unheroic truculence: If a mind is a terrible thing to waste, then the loss of a brilliant black mind is more terrible, more wasteful. At precisely the moment when we could use the old West’s formidable analytical skills to grapple with the myriad polarities that glut the political horizon, the new West, already in the clutches of a fateful denouement, has instead sought the empty solace of emotional catharsis.
If West was once Tyson in his glory, he is Tyson, too, in his infamy. Once great, once dominant, once feared, he is now a faint echo of himself. Like Iron Mike, West is given to biting our ears with personal attacks rather than bending our minds with fresh and powerful scholarship.
Some people took issue to the airing of Dyson’s dirty laundry on The New Republic and how shouldn’t have the need to take jabs at a former friend.
Clutchettes, what do you think about Dyson’s essay?