October 14, 2019

An academic ego run amok

I have been a close reader of the news, opinion pieces and general commentaries on current events for decades. When I was with the Anti-Defamation League, monitoring extremist groups’ musings and their hateful screeds was a daily activity—in addition to reading the general press. 

It was rare, in all those years, to read an intelligent, educated person offer opinions and assessments of the world that weren’t tempered, at least a bit, by a notion of how their comments would be perceived. Unbounded egotism that yields nothing to the perceptions of others is rare (although it is common in extremist circles).

That reality makes the recent “> website.

One needn’t be a cheerleader for the president or an activist Democrat to find appraisals of the president as a “counterfeit”, a “brown-faced Clinton,” a “neo-liberal opportunist” or that he is perceived to have “pimped” the Black community to be offensive. But West blithely describes the president in those terms while contrasting the president with the “high-ground statesman” he would prefer, someone with “prophetic integrity in his leadership.” Integrity that, presumably, West would be the arbiter of.

The arrogance and self-righteousness of his views are appalling coming from someone who is frequently interviewed in the media as a “sage voice” and who is accorded the respect that an academic with tenures at both Harvard and Princeton might deserve.

What makes them even more noteworthy is their context—West’s years-long personal pique with the president for not receiving a personal invitation to Obama’s first inaugural. With that story having been widely publicized, and his repeated attacks on the president’s racial authenticity on the record (in 2012 he “>described West as offering “self-serving victimology deceptively wrapped in the discourse of prophetic witness….a stunning insight into the delicate ego of the self-appointed black leadership class….” 

One might assume, with all that as prologue, West would temper his outbursts and not be so arrogantly dismissive of the president of the United States, the former Secretary of State and those who are supportive of the president (even the Rev. Al Sharpton gets skewered). Unfortunately, he can’t control his ego and engages in inappropriate and insulting ad hominem attacks on the nation’s first African American president.

The arrogance, the ego-on-display, the skewed judgment are all too visible—it’s worth a