What’s the beef between Michael Eric Dyson and Cornel West?


Cornel West drew first blood when he criticized Michael Eric Dyson on his support for President Barack Obama. And now Dyson is returning fire with words for his “friend.”

The noted author/radio/TV host responded to West while speaking at the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN) Convention. Noting the attitude of some leaders, Dyson indirectly went in on West before directly addressing the activist.

“The prophetic temptation is to believe your voice is the only voice. [You think that] your vision is the only vision. That’s what makes you a genius at a certain level. That’s the nature of genius — but you’re tripping, because you’re not the only one,” Dyson stated, as reported by Rolling Out. “I don’t see [humility] in a lot of Negroes talking. They act like it’s ‘my way or the highway’ — you ain’t Frank Sinatra!”

“Howard Thurman said, ‘You can go to the Atlantic Ocean, you can dip your glass into the Atlantic Ocean and it may be full of the Atlantic Ocean — but it ain’t all of the Atlantic Ocean. So stop thinking that your way is the only way,” he continued. “It may be a great way, it may be a powerful way that works for you, but one size don’t [sic] fit all. So be honest and humble in genuine terms — not the public performance of humility masquerading a huge ego. No amount of hair can cover that.”

Dyson’s response comes after a recent interview West and Tavis Smiley had with “Democracy Now”‘s Amy Goodman. While Smiley noted how Sharpton’s, Dyson’s and Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry’s support of the president sacrifices critical thinking and the importance of a legitimate push for Black agenda, West was more candid as he called the leaders out for being bought and paid for by the “Rent-a-Negro” network MSNBC.

“I love Brother Mike Dyson… but we’re living in a society where everybody is up for sale” West told Goodman. “Everything is up for sale. And he and Brother Sharpton and Sister Melissa and others, they have sold their souls for a mess of Obama pottage. And we invite them back to the black prophetic tradition after Obama leaves. But at the moment, they want insider access, and they want to tell those kind of lies. They want to turn their back to poor and working people.”

West’s opinions obviously rubbed Dyson the wrong way. As he spoke to the NAN crowd, the Georgetown University professor was more direct while pointing out his feelings towards West, who he knows personally.

“I’ve probably known him longer than anybody on this panel. Hung out with him. I’ve been a victim of his vicious assaults in public. I’ve held my powder. That ain’t my usual nature,” Dyson admitted while referencing an unsuccessful attempt made by a mutual friend to squash the beef between he and West. “[Dr. Farah Griffin] called me up and I listened to Farah. Because she loves us both [and was] trying to negotiate a cease of hostilities. But I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t hurt for you to call me a sellout because I disagree with you. You can be ‘ride-or-die,’ but while you’re riding — see who your vehicle is rolling over.”

“With [former President] Bill Clinton, you’re rhapsodizing about access [to the White House] — if access is a problem, it was a problem then. Not because you didn’t get a ticket to go to the inauguration for Obama!” Dyson added as he noted the source of his conflict with West. “I’m not talking about just [West], he ain’t the only one. But since he’s been public about it, here’s my response to [his criticism]: I love you, but you can’t talk about love and act unlovingly. It’s the personal assault on Obama that I found problematic, not the principled critique. I’m not mad at principled critique, but you still could be wrong. But when you start indicting my soul like I’ve given my soul over to Obama or the devil — now you’re tripping. You ain’t that important. You’re not God to be able to leverage the divine assignment of privilege or punishment.”



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