From Counter Punch:

Michael Eric Dyson has launched in the New Republic a bitter attack on Cornel West.[1] At the heart of Dyson’s critique is a discourse that engages in character assassination but not before he makes clear what is really at stake in his attack. Dyson resents West’s critique of Obama’s domestic and foreign policies. But rather than judiciously and analytically weigh such criticisms, hardly confined to West, he positions him as a spurned lover, angry and bitter because among other things, he did not get a ticket to Obama’s 2008 inauguration. Dyson expands his critique by claiming that West is not a scholar, who has lived up to the standards of decent scholarship, bolstering his case by quoting among others, Larry Summers, the irrepressible apostle of neoliberalism and unbridled finance capital. It never occurs to Dyson that Summers’ critique of West may be more political than anything else. In what appears as an act of infantilism, Dyson claims that West is a talker rather a scholar, as if speaking truth to power does not have its place as a legitimate mode of political intervention or that the realm of university-based scholarship is the only true space where truth can hold power accountable.

Finally, Dyson decries West for not being a prophet in the manner of Martin Luther King, Jr. and others and for not exploring adequately the genealogy of prophecy. I want to argue that Dyson’s attack should not be seen simply as a personal attack as much as it is a product of the fear liberal intellectuals have about the role of left-oriented public intellectuals and the crucial role that pedagogy and changing consciousness plays in creating the formative cultures that make individual and collective resistance possible. West in this attack is simply a stand in for a range of public…

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