Several days after MSNBC suspended host Mark Halperin for calling President Barack Obama a “d***,” radio host Tom Joyner decided to confront two of the strongest voices in black America for their ill-advised rants against the nation’s first black president. Joyner recently issued a statement condemning Tavis Smiley and Cornel West for turning their personal issues against the president into hateful commentary that’s similar to white racists. Joyner’s full statement is below. –amir shaw
“About a month ago, I wrote a blog about Tavis Smiley and decided to table it because I said some things I didn’t want to publish. You’re probably thinking I went too hard him, but no. In reality, I hadn’t gone hard enough – and I knew it. I said I’d wait until something pissed me off so bad that I would have the words harsh enough to express what I was really feeling about him and his side piece — I mean side kick — Cornel West.
Well, yesterday, when Mark Halperin —a well-respected journalist, employed by a well-respected magazine and a contributor to a well-respected news network — had the audacity to call the president of the United States a dick, that was all I needed.
While I am appalled at Halperin’s statement, I have no expectations of him as a man and know nothing about his character. I am appalled, however, that as editor-at-large of Time magazine, he is responsible for among other things, deciding what stories will be covered in that publication. As the person in charge of political content, it is upsetting to know that he probably has not been objective in his dealings with material I and so many people look forward to (until now) reading each week. Needless to say, I’ve cancelled my subscription to Time magazine and hope you will too.
But I’m even more disgusted with Smiley and West, two brothers who I did have expectations of — and thought I knew. These two have done much worse than what Halperin has done because they set the tone for it, opened the door to it, and must take much of the blame for creating a climate that would make a white, professional journalist feel comfortable verbally and vulgarly attacking the first black president of the United States.
When you think you know a person, when you’ve given a person a forum to present his views, when you’ve had a hand in a person’s success, you want to believe that he is the same person he always was.
“Remember THAT Tavis — the one who could take any complicated political story that had an impact on black America and “break it down” for us every Tuesday and Thursday in less than five minutes. The one who coined the phrase “radio advocacy” and alerted us any time anyone — from a private business owner to a politician to a corporate giant — even thought about doing black folks wrong. The Tavis that loved black people so much that he would sometimes, during his commentaries, be moved to tears. Where is that guy? You know, the guy that would have been telling me, “Fly Jock, Halperin has got to go.” For a while, I thought he was still with us, even though people around me (and many of you) tried to convince me otherwise. “Tavis is a hater.” “Tavis is only about himself.” “Tavis is jealous of the president.” I wouldn’t believe any of it. I had so much respect for him before his primary goal became selling books, and, later, selling out.
As we approach the Fourth of July weekend, one that celebrates our freedoms, including freedom of speech, I wish someone would use that as a defense of what Tavis, Cornel and Mark Halperin have said against our president. When dangerous words incite and brew up hatred and violence, there is a line. And these three crossed it.
In case you believe I think Tavis and Cornel called the president an offensive name, I don’t. I think they did something even worse. Any black people with any sense know that racists on the job, at school, at church or on the bus wait for opportunities to feel comfortable enough to spew their evil thoughts. If a black person tells a racist joke in front of a racist or laughs at one, it won’t be long before the racist begins to fire off a couple of his own. Mark Halperin and others are no different. They hate the president because he is black, and Tavis and Cornel, by not having the sense to not give them the opening they waited for, went all in. And this is what we get.
So, yes, MSNBC, fire Mark Halperin. I hope he never works again. I’ve already fired Tavis and Cornel. There’s nothing either can ever do for me or with me again.
I’ve got a new D-word for the two of them: Done.”