John Derbyshire, on The Corner, asks, “[C]an anyone tell me of an original idea that Cornel West has come up with?”

My preliminary thoughts are:

  • I can’t think of any, no;
  • But that’s probably because I don’t read that particular literature; and
  • Having seen him on interviews, West is obviously highly intelligent, even though I seldom agree with him.

I’d be happy for anyone who is familiar with West’s work to fill us in. Since The Corner lacks a comments section, feel free to use mine.

FILED UNDER: Education
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Nick says:

    When I was in college, we read one of West’s books entitled “Race Matters”. I could barely turn from one page to the next- especially given how virulently I disagree with even just the title. I think that title says it all about West and his ilk of race baiters and victimologists.

    Also while in college, I saw West as part of the panel “on the left” in an episode of William Buckley’s “Firing Line” that they were filming at Penn. To me, he came off as way outclassed intellectually by many members of the panel- particularly Buckley.

  2. James Joyner says:

    There are very few people who aren’t outclassed intellectually by Buckley.

  3. West was adequate in the new Matrix movie. He had one line that had nothing to do with politics. To bad I can’t remember it. The hair stylists didn’t even bother to change his ABA-style afro.

  4. John Lemon says:

    Here is my guess for a Westonian original thought: “If I record a rap record, I will get hired at Princeton.”

  5. John Lemon says:

    Of course, being the first academic in a non-music department to record a rap album may be an original idea in-and-of-itself.

  6. Nathan Lott says:

    I’ve heard West, a regular commentator, on NPR’s Tavis Smiley show, and have to say that I’m unimpressed (I had a similar reaction to a very short section of one of his books). As a writer/speaker he’s cumbersomely verbose. As a political commentator, he tows the lefty line and offers only original rhetoric, not original thought. In that regard, he’s like Jesse Jackson (probably better-read and less experienced), which is unfortunate. The role of most prominant black democrats is to get out the Black vote, not to shape party policy. Consequently, Black Americans, despite their allegiance to the Dems (or because of its unquestioning nature), get relatively little in return. For the record, I’d sooner sight John McWhorter as a Black educator/intellectual cum commentator.