July 22, 2016
By Erec Smith On July 12, in the twilight of his second term, President Obama spoke at the funerals of the officers slain in Dallas, prescribing unity and collaboration as the antidotes to America's racial divide. His speech came more than eight years after his campaign speech "A More Perfect Union," delivered as he sought the presidency. As his time in office winds down, Obama's presidency is bookended by speeches about race and unity because as a nation, we prefer to sit back and wait for someone to solve the problem instead of taking it on ourselves.
May 6, 2013 |
The latest documentary about Pennsylvania's most famous inmate is called Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey With Mumia Abu-Jamal . Which is fitting. Because the longer the distance from Philadelphia, the deeper the convicted cop killer's support tends to be. In England, journalist Tariq Ali suggests Abu-Jamal should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In France, he gets a street, a stamp, the first honorary citizenship of Paris since Pablo Picasso. Stephen Vittoria's movie, which opened Friday, is a compelling and powerful work, though perhaps not for the reasons the director intended.
September 16, 2012 |
TAVIS SMILEY and Cornel West spent three hours talking Friday with Philadelphians about education, "decarceration," jobs and housing at a Baptist Church in North Philadelphia. "The poverty numbers in this country are abysmal," Smiley, the PBS late-night television host, told the crowd filling the pews at Tenth Memorial Baptist Church. Smiley said that unless properly addressed, the high rate of poverty "will threaten our democracy and become a national-security issue. " Smiley said he and West, who teaches philosophy at Union Seminary in New York, embarked on the "Poverty Tour 2.0: A Call to Conscience" this week because they believe that neither President Obama nor Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have addressed the issue enough.
May 20, 2012 |
America the Philosophical By Carlin Romano Alfred A. Knopf. 672 pp. $35 By general consent, the great classic of 20th-century American philosophy is John Rawls' Theory of Justice, which appeared in 1971. Bill Clinton once said that when he and Hillary read it in law school, they immediately realized that liberty, equality, and human rights had been established on a "brilliant new foundation of reason. " Around the same time, a pushy Princeton undergraduate with journalistic ambitions asked the mighty philosopher for an interview, only to be turned away with a gentle Harvard smile.
October 18, 2011 |
Eminent Princeton University scholar Cornel West and 18 fellow activists were arrested Sunday and jailed overnight for protesting on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. They were released Monday without charges. West, 58, whose books include Keeping Faith: Philosophy and Race in America , took part in a joint October 2011 and Stop the Machine demo against "the Supreme Court giving too much power to the corporations . . . and not holding corporations accountable for their behavior," co-organizer Margaret Flowers tells Politico.com.
October 14, 2011
IN THEORY, AMERICANS like diversity. We try to see the world through Captain Noah multicolored glasses. But when we actually get down to practicing what's preached, the fallacy of social pluralism emerges in all its sordid hypocrisy. Take Sarah Palin. (And don't say "Please!") For all their admirable rhetoric about the value of being an independent woman with strongly held convictions, the professional feminists were appalled at the rise of this pro-life, pro-gun female pit bull. Ever since she roared onto the scene in 2008, Palin has been ridiculed and vilified for many things, not the least of which are her decidedly anti-liberal-establishment positions on "women's issues" like abortion (and abortion and abortion)
August 31, 2011
CORNEL WEST wrote an amazing op-ed for the New York Times last week, essentially arguing that slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. would have disliked his new statue - "he never confused substance with symbolism" - and would have preferred to be remembered via an ongoing struggle for social change. Within the piece is a withering takedown of contemporary pop culture, worth considering: "Materialism is a spiritual catastrophe, promoted by a corporate media multiplex and a culture industry that have hardened the hearts of hard-core consumers and coarsened the consciences of would-be citizens.
August 5, 2011 |
I'll let you in on a little secret: When it comes to black folks having political disagreements, we don't like to air our dirty laundry. This approach, I'm sure, was born out of cultural necessity. Historically, we've been oppressed so much, why inflict the same treatment on each other? Plus, the civil-rights movement taught us to always present a united front. With unity, we could overcome. Certainly African Americans have presented a united front in the wake of all of the slings and arrows being tossed at President Obama.