Yvonne Abraham at the Boston Globe takes Cornel West to task for couching his criticism of President Obama in racial terms, rather than on the merits of policy arguments or the President's personality. She raises good points, but I feel a need to address another. I offer this in sadness that West thinks that a remark he makes is truthful, and that he thinks that a statement that is so ignorant of historical relationships will be politically effective.
The sentence was this: "He [Obama] feels most comfortable with upper middle-class white and Jewish men who consider themselves very smart, very savvy and very effective in getting what they want."
I address specifically the point about Jews. Why did he include them in his remarks?
This sentence is clearly steeped in prejudice. Can you imagine this being said about any other religious group? (Go ahead: Insert another religion in the sentence to how West's use plays on a certain stereotype.) Can you imagine the reaction on most college campuses if a professor said it about any other religious group?
What is even more sad, though, is that the Civil Rights movement in America was strongly supported by Jewish men (and women). That West has decided that it would be politically effective to decry the President's association with people of this background is a denial of that collaboration.
On the Princeton website it says: "Cornel West has a passion to communicate to a vast variety of publics in order to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. – a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice." Well, not quite, apparently.