It’s time to Break It Down!
Before I launch today’s post, let me be clear…I voted for President Obama. Twice…without regret! Having said that, I recognize and respect the rights of individuals to vote for, and support, whomever they choose. I also fully appreciate and embrace the rights of individuals to disagree with and even criticize candidates, politicians, and elected officials. Without a doubt, my beliefs speak to the kind of country in which we live.
I am taking a somewhat different tack (than that which I usually do) in this post. Typically, I employ a number of sources and citations to tease out my point(s), and ultimately to make the case of the day. In this instance, I want to present for your reading pleasure, an opinion piece written by LZ Granderson, a regular CNN Contributor.
In the article, linked below, LZ looks at two prominent African Americans who frequently and fiercely render scathing criticism of the President. More importantly, he renders an opinion (which is what one does when writing commentaries and opinion pieces), regarding why these two men, TavisSmiley, and Dr. Cornel West, choose to attack the President.
It goes without saying people attack the President everyday…any president…no matter how beloved in some circles. However, within the African American community, it has often seemed that President Obama, the First Black President, gets a pass.
This perception, which more often than not is accurate, is certainly not a sign of monolithic approval of the President. However, it is fair to say, that lack of single-minded support inures to the chagrin of some African Americans. Wait let’s be real…to the chagrin of many African Americans. OK, whom am I kidding? Most African Americans find such caustic comments about the President, by anyone, offensive. That the remarks emanate from other African Americans simply underscores the disdain with which they are often viewed.
So who are Tavis Smiley and Cornel West?
Mr. Smiley is a talk show host, liberal political commentator, and author, among other things. He gained national acclaim by leveraging numerous opportunities to speak in front of a mic, or to an audience. Born in Gulfport, Mississippi, he later moved to Bunker Hill, Indiana, and earned a degree in Public Affairs at Indiana University. He is currently the host of “Tavis Talks” on BlogTalkRadio’s Tavis Smiley Network.
Dr. West is a philosopher, academic, activist, and public intellectual. He holds an undergraduate degree from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from Princeton University. He is also a prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America. Currently, Dr. West is a Professor of African American Studies at Princeton and a Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary.
In short, they are educated, articulate, and opinionated African American men. They pursue and promote their agenda with passion and persistence. Their agenda: elevating poverty as a working policy issue in America; then eliminating it.
LZ identifies the inception of what is known in the vernacular as the “hateration” of President Obama, first by Mr. Smiley, and then by his colleague-in-hateration, Dr. West. Granderson hails Smiley’s invitation of then Senator Obama to attend his Summit on the “State of the Black Union,” in February 2008, in New Orleans. At the time, Senator Obama was locked in a spirited battle for the Democratic Party Presidential Nomination with then Senator Hillary Clinton. The ante likely was raised by the fact Senator Clinton did attend. Meanwhile, Senator Obama offered to send Mrs. Obama as a surrogate. Tavis declined, and immediately, according to LZ, a rift was born.
Granderson recounts a similar perceived slight for Dr. West. He maintains Dr. West was incensed at receiving one ticket to the Inauguration…instead of the three he had requested. This lack of “proper respect,” earned the newly elected President a comparison to Machiavelli, according to LZ.
There was a time when Smiley and West were accorded more respect, and certainly a higher level of popularity. Even now, I applaud both of them for the willingness to commit unswervingly to their shared values…even though I disagree with many of their “Obama rants.” I do not consider myself an “Obamapologist.” Most assuredly, I believe he is fallible, and like all politicians, faces choices for which there is no “one-size-fits-all” response.
I definitely feel he has missed the mark on occasion. However, when I consider the alternatives we were given in 2008, and 2012, I am satisfied that President Obama has spent his time in office laboring to keep Americans safe, and to re-energize a sputtering economy; moreover, that the results of his efforts, naysayers and obstructionists, notwithstanding, reflect success, given where he started.
I urge you to read Mr. Granderson’s treatment of the subject he calls, “What’s Motivating Some of Obama’s Critics?” To wit, I give you;”One Journalist’s Critique of Two of President Obama’s Harshest Critics!”
I’m done; holla back!
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