The New Yorker on Cornell West

‘West and Cone did a Q&A at a Princeton bookstore last winter, and afterward, they and a handful of friends and colleagues—including the journalist Chris Hedges, who wrote the Truthdig piece; Carl Dix, a local communist organizer; Brother Ali, an albino rapper; and a few professors—went to dinner. There, West was in his element. He had no one to provoke, and it was clear to see why some might compare West to Ralph Waldo Emerson, W.E.B. DuBois, or even Mark Twain. The conversation started with an appreciation of the works of novelist James Baldwin. “At Baldwin’s funeral,” said West, “I sat next to Stokely Carmichael. He’s a hard brother, and he cried like a baby.” West regarded Baldwin in the light of William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Amiri Baraka, and his friend Toni Morrison. Then the conversation took a turn, touching briefly on the works of the slavery historians ­David Brion Davis and Leon Litwack, and the civil-rights historian Howard Zinn, ­before resting for a time on Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr, the definers of ­twentieth-century Christian theology—both of whom taught at Union. About the literary critic Harold Bloom, West pronounced, “He’s not always right, but he’s always got something to say,” and then he veered straight through Martin Heidegger to praise his lesser-known disciple, Hans-Georg Gadamer.’

- "Why Cornell West Can’t Seem to Find Love and Justice in His Own Life,” The New Yorker -