Taking advantage of the friendly crowd at Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network Conference, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson publicly responded to Dr. Cornel West’s jabs against him.
Speaking on the state of Black intellectualism, Dyson not only accused West of having a huge ego, he also informed his dear brother that he “ain’t that important”:
Read more from Rolling Out:
“The prophetic temptation is to believe your voice is the only voice,” said Dr. Dyson. “[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.”
“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!” he continued. “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. 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.”
After insinuating that he was referring to Dr. West, Dr. Dyson spoke about his contemporary directly.
“I’ve probably known him longer than anybody on this panel. Hung out with him,” Dyson said. “I’ve been a victim of his vicious assaults in public. I’ve held my powder. That ain’t my usual nature. [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!” Dr. Dyson stated emphatically. “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.”
As previously reported by NewsOne, during an interview with Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman, West had some choice words for Sharpton, Dyson and Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, who he claims have all been bought and paid for by the “Rent-a-Negro” network MSNBC. While the aforementioned scholars have been extremely vocal in their support of the Obama Administration, Tavis Smiley, who was interviewed along with Dr. West, said their support comes at the expense of critical thinking and a legitimate push for a Black agenda:
“…Lincoln isn’t Lincoln if Frederick Douglass isn’t pushing him. FDR isn’t FDR if A. Philip Randolph and Eleanor Roosevelt aren’t pushing him. LBJ isn’t LBJ if MLK isn’t pushing him.
“We don’t believe in making excuses. We believe that if [Obama] is not pushed, he’s going to be a transactional president and not a transformational president. And we believe that the time is now for action and no longer accommodation. But that doesn’t happen unless you’re pushed.”
Dr. West said that Smiley was just being “very kind,” and gave his opinion to Goodman, straight no chaser:
I love Brother Mike Dyson… but we’re living in a society where everybody is up for sale. 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.