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Past Debates Echo in Split Between Cornel West and Ta-Nehisi Coates

Related Link Ta-Nehisi Coates vs. Cornel West Hardly Qualifies as Debate (WSJ)

Shortly after the dawn of the 20th century, the scholar W.E.B. Du Bois took on a fellow black civic leader, Booker T. Washington, for what he described as submitting to white domination and accepting “the alleged inferiority of the Negro races.”

Decades later, Malcolm X criticized Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for being used by white people “to teach Negroes to be defenseless.”

Those clashes took place without the gasoline that is Twitter — no @MalcolmX, no @MLKJr., no #WhiteShill.

But just this week, the Harvard professor Cornel West said that the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates “fetishizes white supremacy” and that Mr. Coates takes a neoliberal position “that sounds militant about white supremacy but renders black fightback invisible.” And Twitter had its say.

The drama unfolded online in a tabloid-like frenzy as Dr. West offered pointed criticism of Mr. Coates — and Mr. Coates soon decided to deactivate his Twitter account. It brought what historians consider a familiar occurrence in the black freedom struggle onto mobile phones everywhere.

Read entire article at NYT