CORNEL WEST UPDATE: Matt Feeney has an update to the Cornel West/Larry Summers smackdown in National Review Online. Feeney writes, “a puff piece on West in Sunday’s Washington Post provides evidence that West was directly responsible for the escalation of hostilities that turned the meeting into a national incident. And this evidence comes from West himself”, adding:
According to his own account, quoted in the Post, [after Summers accused him of shirking his classroom responsibilities, West told Summers], “So already, I knew you had what I call an a priori approach to ‘the Negro.’ You don’t need evidence. You just accuse.” By “an a priori approach to ‘the Negro,'” West meant that, in dealing with black people, Summers uses a set of racially grounded guiding assumptions that help him stamp unambiguous, invidious meaning on ambiguous scraps of evidence. In other words, West accused Summers of being a racist. Indeed, he suggests that he “knew” ahead of time that Summers was a racist. The Post then notes, “The meeting went downhill from there….” As well it might have! Imagine standing before the intellectual and emotional fury that is Lawrence Summers and accusing him of being a racist. It’s surprising that the room didn’t, at that moment, just burst into flames.