Life Imitates AJS

May 19, 2011 at 1:59 am 3 comments

| Gabriel |

Compare and contrast:

Postive comments, demonstrations of attention, or expressions of interest reflect approval, thereby influencing opinion, if everyone knows that they are not made lightly; and they will not be made lightly if those making them understand them as forms of deference. It is painful to pay attention to another person if the favor is not repaid.

The displeasure of offering unreciprocated gestures of approval keeps such gestures within limits, in turn limiting their impact on other people’s attributions, and so forth. Runaway status hierarchies are thus unlikely to the degree that people are reluctant to make gestures of approval without having the favor returned, at least in part. (Hence the pressure on media celebrities to feign affection for their fans).

Roger Gould

There is the personal level. I used to call my dear brother [Obama] every two weeks. I said a prayer on the phone for him, especially before a debate. And I never got a call back. And when I ran into him in the state Capitol in South Carolina when I was down there campaigning for him he was very kind. The first thing he told me was, ‘Brother West, I feel so bad. I haven’t called you back. You been calling me so much. You been giving me so much love, so much support and what have you.’ And I said, ‘I know you’re busy.’ But then a month and half later I would run into other people on the campaign and he’s calling them all the time. I said, wow, this is kind of strange. He doesn’t have time, even two seconds, to say thank you or I’m glad you’re pulling for me and praying for me, but he’s calling these other people. I said, this is very interesting. And then as it turns out with the inauguration I couldn’t get a ticket with my mother and my brother. I said this is very strange. We drive into the hotel and the guy who picks up my bags from the hotel has a ticket to the inauguration. My mom says, ‘That’s something that this dear brother can get a ticket and you can’t get one, honey, all the work you did for him from Iowa.’ Beginning in Iowa to Ohio. We had to watch the thing in the hotel.

What it said to me on a personal level, was that brother Barack Obama had no sense of gratitude, no sense of loyalty, no sense of even courtesy, [no] sense of decency, just to say thank you. Is this the kind of manipulative, Machiavellian orientation we ought to get used to? That was on a personal level.

Cornel West

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  • 1. Peter L  |  May 19, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Maybe the breaking point for me was when he appeared at Councillor West in Matrix Revolutions, and went on media tour around that movie extolling ‘Brother Wachowski’ (Andy, I think) as creating a film centered around the triumph of racial diversity.

    Or maybe it was the hip-hop album…

    Of course, the ‘Obama has a certain fear of free black men’ line is brilliant.

    • 2. gabrielrossman  |  May 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm

      Wow, praising that cinematic turd is an even better illustration of how Prof. West works more on the basis of reciprocating status gestures rather than principles. I mean, I think it’s fair (but naive) if he’s disappointed that the president is governing from the center-left rather than far left, but to praise Matrix Revolutions shows pretty clearly that his primary grudge against the president is not over policy differences but taking umbrage that the leader of the free world has better things to spend his time on than returning his phone calls and leaving inauguration tickets at will call.

  • 3. joshmccabe  |  May 20, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    My favorite part is where Brother West gets upset that the bellhop (a mere commoner) has access to a privilege which he was denied all while lecturing others on gratitude.

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