West’s critique is obviously important
On December 17, 2017, the philosopher and activist Cornel West published an editorial in The Guardian with the title: “Ta-Nehisi Coates is the neoliberal face of the black freedom struggle”. The premise of the article was that Coates “fetishizes white supremacy” and, in West’s view, represents “narrow racial tribalism and myopic political neo-liberalism” by wrongly casting former President Barack Obama as a successor to such figures as Malcolm X as an African-American hero. West believes that Obama (which on a previous occasion he had called a “Rockefeller Republican in blackface“) should never be compared to activists, such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., who in their fight against white supremacy spoke out against systemic biases in predatory capitalism and war; according to West, this is because Obama, while he is of the same racial class, is part of the system that the activists should fight against.
The same day, West shared the article on Twitter, attracting tweets in response from many others, including hundreds of supporters of Coates. The next day, West’s tweet was retweeted by the alt-right white supremacist, Richard Spencer, who indicated tacit agreement with West’s criticism of Coates. Shortly afterwards, Coates, who had enjoyed a following of over 1.25 million other Twitter users, deactivated his Twitter account.