Thursday, December 28, 2017

Ta-Nehisi Coates vs. Cornel West

If you've come across the bits and media shards of this confrontation, you might think there's something profound about it, something the left, without much of a new bone left in its theoretical body, might want to latch onto.

Oh, left, poor left, looking for by-gone significance.

But Coates v. West is just an old-fashioned pissing contest. Brother West wants to start one up against any young brother who might have something new to say, as he did against Michael Eric Dyson.

What Ta-Nehisi Coates has to say is a cautionary, partial and perhaps incomplete testimony about the power of racism but it's also passionate and authentic. Brother West wants to drag out a creaking anti-imperialist critique and crush Coates beneath its rust.

There are those on the left anxious to sift through this contretemps for deeper meaning, as if what we have here is comparable to the truly seminal split between Booker T. Washington v. W. E. B. Du Bois, or the one between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King.

These comparisons don't apply. West v. Coates is but a pissing contest, no fault of Coates.


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