For a response to President Obama’s comments on the acquittal of George Zimmerman and racism in the United States, we’re joined by Dr. Cornel West, professor at Union Theological Seminary and author of numerous books. On Obama’s remarks comparing himself to Trayvon Martin, West says: "Will that identification hide and conceal the fact there’s a criminal justice system in place that has nearly destroyed two generations of precious, poor black and brown brothers? [Obama] hasn’t said a word until now — five years in office and can’t say a word about a 'new Jim Crow.' … Obama and [Attorney General Eric] Holder — will they come through at the federal level for Trayvon Martin? We hope so — [but] don’t hold your breath. There’s going to be many people who say, 'We see this president is not serious about the criminalizing of poor people.'"
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: In the aftermath of the Zimmerman verdict and the mass protests around the country, we turn right now to Dr. Cornel West, professor at Union Theological Seminary, author of numerous books, co-host of the radio show Smiley & West with Tavis Smiley. Together, they wrote the book The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto, among Cornel West’s other books.
Professor Cornel West—
CORNEL WEST: Yes, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: President Obama surprised not only the press room at the White House, but the nation, I think, on Friday, in his first public remarks following the George Zimmerman acquittal. What are your thoughts?
CORNEL WEST: Well, the first thing, I think we have to acknowledge that President Obama has very little moral authority at this point, because we know anybody who tries to rationalize the killing of innocent peoples, a criminal—George Zimmerman is a criminal—but President Obama is a global George Zimmerman, because he tries to rationalize the killing of innocent children, 221 so far, in the name of self-defense, so that there’s actually parallels here.
AMY GOODMAN: Where?
CORNEL WEST: In Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen. So when he comes to talk about the killing of an innocent person, you say, "Well, wait a minute. What kind of moral authority are you bringing? You’ve got $2 million bounty on Sister Assata Shakur. She’s innocent, but you are pressing that intentionally. Will you press for the justice of Trayvon Martin in the same way you press for the prosecution of Brother Bradley Manning and Brother Edward Snowden?" So you begin to see the hypocrisy.
Then he tells stories about racial profiling. They’re moving, sentimental stories, what Brother Kendall Thomas called racial moralism, very sentimental. But then, Ray Kelly, major candidate for Department of Homeland Security, he’s the poster child of racial profiling. You know, Brother Carl Dix and many of us went to jail under Ray Kelly. Why? Because he racially profiled millions of young black and brown brothers. So, on the one hand, you get these stories, sentimental—