Useful Idiots: Matt Taibbi, Katie Halper With Cornel West - Rolling Stone
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Useful Idiots: Dr. Cornel West on Protests, Bernie’s Campaign, His New Podcast

Hosts Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper discuss why West endorsed Sanders again in 2020, and the tactical efficacy of violent vs. nonviolent protesting

In this week’s quarantine episode of our Useful Idiots podcast, Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper are joined by Dr. Cornel West, a philosopher, activist, author, and Harvard University professor.

Our hosts break down the Hilary Clinton’s endorsement of Eliot Engel, an incumbent U.S. Representative for New York’s 16th congressional district in the Bronx and Westchester, who is being challenged from the left in the Democratic primary by Jamaal Bowman. Representative Engel was caught on a hot mic saying, “If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care,” at a recent news conference.

“Let the records show, Hilary Clinton is not progressive. There’s no tactical advantage for her; there’s no political pressure on her, to endorse the corrupt incumbent, who also lied about where he was quarantining, and is a hawk and bad,” says Katie on Clinton’s endorsement of Engel. “All of her social justice intersectional pseudo-, genuine-weaponization of identity politics is just a joke.”

The duo also takes a look at an interview with Charlie Kirk from Turning Point USA and Mark Levin on Fox News, and pontificate on the sexual tension in the conversation. Matt thinks it might work well as a setup for a porn scene, and Katie believes legs were being crossed for “boner obfuscation.”

Dr. Cornel West joins the show (for the first time) for a wide-ranging conversation about his new podcast The Tightrope, what went wrong for Bernie’s campaign and why he had endorsed Sanders again in 2020, and the tactical efficacy of violent vs. nonviolent protesting.

When it comes to the use of violence in protest, West says, “I don’t think we should ever be dogmatic about any of these things. I’m not like Martin Luther King Jr., I’m not an absolute pacifist. I would have fought against the Nazis. Even in the Jim Crow army, I would have fought against a thug named Hitler. I would have fought against the apartheid regime… I believe in a just war: Very, very specific circumstances under which you have to engage in violence, usually tied to both self defense or tied to an evil regime that is so overwhelmingly objectionable that the only way, the only option that one can pursue would be a violent one you se? So in that sense, if there were a chance to engage in fundamental transformation and it looks as if violence was the only means and it looked as if the result would not be terror and more violence and more hatred, I’d be very much a part of that.”

West also critiques the trend in corporate America and typical power holders suddenly embracing the messages of black lives matter. “This is not just a movement for philanthropic concessions, we’re looking for fundamental transformation of institutions and structures.”

You can find the Useful Idiots podcast on AppleSpotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.


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