Cornel West: "If This Was A Race War, We've Got A Lot Of White Brothers And Sisters On Our Side Now" | Video | RealClearPolitics

Cornel West: "If This Was A Race War, We've Got A Lot Of White Brothers And Sisters On Our Side Now"

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Cornel West accused President Donald Trump of trying to push Americans "to the race war" in an interview with CNN host Anderson Cooper on Tuesday. West also warned of a coming "backlash" in the form of a "neo-fascist clampdown."

"I am not saying we don't have black thugs and gangsters," West said. "I am talking about the best of our tradition. Because brother, brother, brother, if we have created a black version of the Ku Klux Klan, there would have been a Civil War every generation. It would tear ourselves in every hood and that is what Brother Trump needs to understand because it looks like he's trying to push us to a race war."

"But the good news is, if there was a race war, we have got a whole lot of white brothers and sisters on our side now. That makes a big difference and we've got black folk and red folk and indigenous people and Asians and so forth," he said.


"We've got a love that the world can't take away," West told Cooper. "White supremacy may make being black a crime, but we refuse to get in the gutter. We're doing it for the whole world, because that's the only hope of the world. And that kind of love is always tragiciomic and cruciform. You got to get ready to get crucified with that kind of love and you have to keep dishing it out generation after generation after generation. The Floyd family lifted up that spiritual, moral banner in the midst of a moment in which we've got all these lies and crimes, be it the Pentagon or Wall Street or the White House, or even Congress itself—we know they don't represent the best of this country."

"We have got to get ready for the backlash. We have got to get ready for the neo-fascist clampdown because it is coming. It is coming," West warned.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: COOPER: Dr. West, it is good to see you on this sad day. Just watching the funeral today and hearing the chants of, "We will breathe" outside of the church, I am wondering what was going through your mind and your heart.

DR. CORNEL WEST, PROFESSOR IN THE PRACTICE OF PUBLIC PHILOSOPHY, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: It was a heavy day, my brother. And yet I was buoyed up because I saw in the hearts and minds and souls, not just of the Floyd family, but of the church, of the music, of the preaching a love.

Not one reference to hatred or revenge. It was all about love and justice. It's in the great tradition of the best of black people, a people who have been hated chronically systemically for 400 years, but have taught the world so much about love and how to love.

You saw John Coltrane's "Love Supreme" in that church service. You saw the love of the children in Marvin Gaye's "What is Going On" and Toni Morrison's "Beloved." You saw Mama "Raisin in the Sun" Lorraine Hansberry.

White America ought to give black people a standing ovation. After 400 years of being terrorized, we refuse to create a black version of the Ku Klux Klan. After 400 years of being traumatized, we wanted to be healers. That's Frederick Douglass, that's Martin King, that's Curtis Mayfield, that's Benny Lou Haymoth (ph).

What is it about these black people so thoroughly subjugated that want freedom for everybody? That is a grand gift to the world right in the bowels at the center of American Empire that has enslaved Jim Crow, Jane Crow, lynched them still dishing out the love voice.

That is what I saw in the Floyd family and I was buoyed up. It reminded me of the West family. It reminded me of Irene and Cliff and Cliff -- that's where we come from. Shiloh Baptist Church.

You could put us down, but you're not going to put us down in such a way that we're going to hate you because you've become the point of reference. No, we're going to put a smile on Larcenia's face. That his momma. That is where he is right now.

He is lying right next to Larcenia whose way of engaging the world was embracing it with all of the love. Now, I am not saying we don't have black thugs and gangsters. I am talking about the best of our tradition. Because brother, brother, brother, if we have created a black version of the Ku Klux Klan, there would have been a Civil War every generation. It would tear ourselves in every hood and that is what Brother Trump needs to understand because it looks like he's trying to push us to a race war.

But the good news is, if there was a race war, we have got a whole lot of white brothers and sisters on our side now. That makes a big difference and we've got black folk and red folk and indigenous people and Asians and so forth.

This is a matter of integrity and honesty, a matter of justice and love. They kept it on the high ground.

That was a beautiful thing, but I did break there, brother and I saw those brothers marching in, like to use in the Shiloh Baptist Church, and pick up that coffin and go and walk out. My daughter was there. I couldn't take it, man.

I mean, I've been at this for over 50 years. And yet, I've got to bounce back. And I will bounce back. Because we've got a love that the world can't take away. The world -- white supremacy may make being black a crime, but we refuse to get into the gutter and we are going to go down swinging like Ella Fitzgerald and Muhammad Ali in the name of love and justice.

And we do it for Brother Wyatt, we are doing it for my daughter. We are doing it for the Asians. We are doing it for the whole world. Because that is the only hope of the world and that kind of love is always tragic, comic and cruciform. We have got to get ready to get crucified with that kind of love.

And you have to keep dishing it all generation after generation after generation. The Floyd family lifted up that spiritual moral banner in the midst of a moment in which we've got all of the lies and crimes and be it a cop, The Pentagon or Wall Street or White House or even Congress itself, we know they don't represent the best of this country.

It is just that the best of this country right now seems to be so powerless, but in the streets of our nation, we see this multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-gender, different sexual orientations and different religions, Jewish brothers and sisters holding up Rabbi Abraham and have their heads up, the Catholics holding up most of the day, the Protestants holding up the coffin and lifting every child and the agnostics and the others holding up the Norman Thomases and Edward Zahids and others.

That was my mixed wresting with what I saw today, my brother.

And I think we've got hope in the form of motion, but we have got to get ready for the backlash. We have got to get ready for the neo fascist clamp down because it is coming. It is coming.

COOPER: Yes. I've had that -- I've got to say, you're -- I've never had the honor of taking one of your classes. But I feel like I'm a student of yours and I've learned lessons every time you speak. And I just think it's --

WEST: No, we're in it together, brother and the beautiful thing about here, Socrates never cries, but Jeremiah does and so does Jesus.

We cry because we care. We're concerned. It is not about political correctness or self-righteousness. We cry because we are not numb on the inside. We don't have a chilliness of soul and a coldness of mind and heart.

We cry because we connect, but then we must have a vision that includes all of us and I have an analysis of power that is honest in terms of the greed, especially at the top. In terms of the hatred, running amok. In terms of corruption, not just the White House and Congress.

Too much churches, too many mosques, too many synagogues and too many universities, too many civic organizations and then the greed in us.

You and I would talk about this all of the time, right? The gangster in us. Because we're wrestling with this day by day and that's why we need each other, my brother.

COOPER: You know, you said something -- I follow you when you're not on my program. I follow you wherever you go and I read what you had to say and you said something a couple of days ago in somebody else's program.

You said, "Can we hold on to integrity, honesty and decency?" And it seems to me, as you said there is a lot of people who have remained silent, who have just been watching this and as you said, there is going to be a backlash and that is something to be prepared for because I think there are a lot of people just waiting on the side lines waiting to kind of start to chip away at this and cause doubt and divide people.

But I think that is so important that at its core, this is about integrity and honesty and decency and fortitude and courage, which are two other things you've spoken a lot about.

WEST: Absolutely. Especially the fortitude and courage. We must have the integrity and honesty and decency, not purity. No one of us are pure and pristine. We all have our spots and our wrinkles as it were.

But it is the courage and the fortitude. That is what is necessary. The backbone. We don't need lukewarm folk. We don't need summer soldiers. We need all season love warriors. That is the tradition that we saw represented in that church, at the spiritual level.

And my dear brother Sharpton, you know, I love brother Sharpton. We come out and save black church traditions and so forth, and we fight all of the time. But we come together and so forth. And he was powerful.

But I always want to connect the police -- fallen police, crimes with the Wall Street power and the Wall Street crimes. We live in a culture in which people feel as if they could do and say anything and get away with it with no accountability and no responsibility.

We saw on Wall Street in terms of all of that insider trading and market manipulation and fraudulent activity and predatorial lending, how many went to jail? Zero.

Trump say anything? Do anything? He thinks he could get away with it. Pentagon can drop drones on precious folk in Yemen and Pakistan and others and think they could get away with it.

We have to have accountability. Our politicians could tell us anything in front of our faces and we know what is going on behind closed doors, they're inside the big money. Just be honest. That is what integrity is.

Malcolm X used to say sincerity is my only credentials, that is why we love Malcolm. We didn't always agree with Malcolm, but he said what he meant and he meant what he said. You see what I mean? That is what we need. We need that in our lives. We need that in our communities. We need that in our civilization and we need that as a critique of the worse of the American Empire, the worst of American white supremacy, the worst of American predatory capitalism and the worst of American patriarchy and the worst of American homophobic and transphobia.

Have you any idea how one loses sight of the humanity of folks? I don't care. It wasn't the Palestinian, Jewish or whatever. It has got to be all the way down.

You know, the English word human comes from the Latin humando which means burial and that is what we saw today.

We saw the humanity, because they were ascribing significance to this precious person in the image of God whose body was now going -- undergoing extinction and his soul ascending and this is what connects us as human beings, and at the deepest level, you see and in many ways we're losing it, but we have got to keep on fighting, my brother. We have got to keep on fighting that.

COOPER: Yes.

WEST: So, I salute the Floyd family and I salute all of the people there and we just have to bear witness. But love you though, brother.

COOPER: Love you, too. Thank you, Dr. West. Appreciate it.
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