Sunday, October 22, 2017
Tavis Smiley, Cornel West, and Boyce Watkins:
By Eric L. Wattree Sr. (Columnist)
Published February 29, 2012



The Treacherous Trio

During these dire times it is incumbent upon the Black community to recognize, assess, and correct the historic flaws in our mores that represent the self-hating and destructive remnants of our past history of slavery. We are now faced with such a moment.

The insidious intellectual assault on the Black community posed by Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West seems to have gained the able assistance of Dr. Boyce Watkins of Syracuse University added to the mix. So ‘The Dangerous Duo’ have now morphed into ‘The Treacherous Trio.’ While I’m always reluctant to base an article on an ad hominous (corruption of ‘ad hominem’) argument, when dealing with the kind of historically treacherous, petulant, hypocritical, and self-righteous delusions of grandeur that these three individuals represent, it’s impossible to avoid, at least, if one is truly intent on aggressively beating back the gross manipulation of the Black community.

It is no accident that with the announcement that Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry has been given her own show on MSNBC that Cornel West and Boyce Watkins have immediately chimed in with a campaign of bad-mouthing and criticism toward Dr. Perry. Their behavior was so predictably transparent that it’s like deja vu all over again. It’s a classic case of crabs in a barrel. Both their petulant behavior and motivation is inspired by the exact same petty emotions that’s caused them to brutally attack Barack Obama–their bitterness and fear over being eclipsed as superstars–and a wannabe–in the Black community.

Clear evidence of that is while Cornel West is renowned for alleging that all he cares about is what’s in the best interest of ‘his people,’ immediately after the announcement of Dr. Perry’s new show on MSNBC he’s been quoted as saying that she’s “a liar and a fraud.” How does such an attack on a brilliant young Black woman’s elevation into the public eye benefit ‘his people?’ Isn’t it a benefit to the Black community just to have America exposed to another intelligent Black voice, whether that voice agrees with Cornel West or not? If West truly embraced the utter nonsense that he espouses, the answer would go without saying.

But whether it’s due to intense envy, sour grapes, or the early onset of senility, West has been routinely betraying his carefully crafted persona of the selfless Black intellectual of late. First, on the very day that, then, Sen. Barack Obama, threw his hat in the ring to run for President of the United States, West challenged him with the question of “How much do you love your people?” That took place before the nation, and a grinning Tavis Smiley, during Tavis’ ‘State of the Black Union’ broadcast. It appeared to be in direct response to Sen. Obama’s failure to postpone his announcement and appear on the broadcast to kiss Tavis’ ring.

But West seems to have no shame when it comes to his own self-interest, and monitoring which way the wind is blowing. In spite of the public spectacle that he engaged in on behalf of Tavis Smiley, once it became clear that Obama actually had a chance to win the election, West didn’t hesitate to go on the road to campaign for him.

But after Obama won the presidency and West failed to receive the goodies that he obviously expected, again,West betrayed his image as the selfless Black intellectual–but this time his petulance revealed itself in all of its arrogant, petty, and condescending glory.

This time West not only criticized the first Black President of the United States as “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats,” he then went on to say, “I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men.” So not only was West grossly disrespectful to President Obama as president, but then, in the very finest tradition of a common sheet-wearing racist, he publically slandered the president as a Black man as well.

So if Cornel West’s reckless verbal assault on the President of the United States was not enough to completely discredit him as a public intellectual–or an intellectual of any sort, for that matter–the mere fact that he shot off his mouth without being able to substantiate one syllable of his allegations certainly should have. In addition, his public disrespect for the first Black President of the United States is not only disrespectful to the institution and the president himself, but it’s also a disrespectful assault on the Black community as a whole.

Many of West’s colleagues attempted to justify his behavior by trying conjure up some higher purpose. But then it came out that this entire episode–a public tirade that will certainly go down in the annals of historic infamy–came about for no other reason than the fact that Cornel West felt slighted because he failed to receive tickets to the inaugural and the future President of the United States failed to return his personal phone calls. And if one considers that petty, what’s really telling is his attitude toward one of the gentlemen who did get tickets to the inaugural.

West is quoted as saying . . . “I couldn’t get a ticket with my mother and my brother. I said this is very strange. We drive into the hotel and the guy who picks up my bags from the hotel has a ticket to the inauguration.” Now, consider the mindset of this man. What makes West think that he’s more deserving of a ticket than the brother who picks up his bags? I don’t know how West supporters feel about it, but that doesn’t sound like a brother who believes in the equality that he reportedly gets ten thousand dollars a speech to espouse to me.

So am I surprised at West’s unscholarly attack on Dr. Perry’s good fortune? Not at all. I’ve come to expect it from him. In an Ebony article, A Black Woman’s “Life of the Mind” is Her Own: Melissa Harris Perry, Dr. Kimberly Ellis indicates that in spite of the fact that Dr. Perry was recruited to Princeton by West, when she came up for a full-professorship she was denied, and West was involved in the process. So it would seem that while West has a mantra of publically espousing how much he loves his people, when he’s cloistered from public view within the walls of academia his true character begins to surface, a character that seems to be gradually oozing from beneath the ivy walls and into the public domain.

And if you watch closely, you’ll notice that West’s character and poor judgement is becoming ever more pronounced in his defenders and the people who become publically associated with him. I’ve watched that process taking place in Dr. Boyce Watkins of Syracuse University. In his article, “A Very Bad Reason to Vote for the Democrats,” Boyce says, “If you want my vote, you must address my issues…if you’re too busy to address my issues, then I’m too busy to vote for you. PERIOD.”

While that sounds quite reasonable, at least, at first blush, the logical question to ask in response to Boyce’s proclamation is, then who does he suggest that we vote for, the GOP lunatics that even the Republican voters don’t want? Or maybe he’s suggesting that we just sit on our hands and let the lunatics vote themselves into office. Either way, that would be absolutely devastating to the Black community.

So with so-called intellectuals like these, the black community doesn’t need any enemies. Thus, when The Treacherous Trio criticized Melissa Harris Perry, that alone served as a ringing endorsement for me.


Eric L. Wattree




Categories: Opinion

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