Cornel West Whine Watch

Wherein the celebrity professor maps the frontiers of self-pity.

In January, Chatterbox awarded a special “Whine of the Week” citation to Cornel West’s complaint that Harvard President Lawrence Summers “hadn’t listened to a note of my CD.” Continuing in that line of attack, West, who last Friday made his long-anticipated jump to Princeton, today tells Pam Belluck and Jacques Steinberg of the New York Times that Summers didn’t send him a get-well card until two months after his recent surgery for prostate cancer, whereas that nice Princeton provost, Amy Gutmann, called him almost every week. From this, Chatterbox concludes that the surgeons removed whatever remained of West’s superego.

The tone of today’s Times piece is very close to outright mockery. (Note, for instance, the sentence, “While the recording has often been described as rap, Dr. West said he preferred the Nietzschean phrase ‘danceable education.’ “) When the ordinarily race-sensitive New York Times feels free to guffaw at a respected black scholar, you know he’s behaving like an ass. (For further evidence, click here to listen to West’s pouty appearance yesterday on NPR’s Tavis Smiley Show.) In response, Chatterbox hereby inaugurates a new feature, the Cornel West Whine Watch, to be discontinued if and when Princeton’s new Class of 1943 University Professor of Religion regains his senses.