Deodorized Discourse

cornelFrom Dr. Cornel West in Black Prophetic Fire (in conversation with and edited by Christa Buschendorf, 2014):

The central role of mass media, especially a corporate media beholden to the US neoliberal regime, is to keep public discourse narrow and deodorized.  By “narrow” I mean confining the conversation to conservative Republican and neoliberal Democrats who shut out prophetic voices or radical visions.  This fundamental power to define the political terrain and categories attempts to render prophetic voices invisible.  The discourse is deodorized because the issues that prophetic voices highlight, such as mass incarceration, wealth inequality, and war crimes such as imperial drones murdering innocent people, are ignored.  

The age of Obama was predicated on three pillars: Wall Street crimes in the financial catastrophe of 2008; imperial crimes in the form of the USA PATRIOT Act and National Defense Authorization Act, which give the president sweeping and arbitrary power that resembles a police or neofascist state; and social crimes principally manifest in a criminal justice system that is in itself criminal (where torturers, wire tappers, and Wall Street violators of the law go free yet poor criminals, such as drug offenders, go to prison).  This kind of clear and direct language is rare in political discourse precisely because we are accustomed to be so polite in the face of crimes against humanity.  The role of the Black prophetic tradition has always been to shatter the narrow and deodorized discourse in the name of the funky humanity and precious individuality of poor people.

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