Bill Cosby: Correct conservative or reactionary race traitor?

Brent Staples writes in Sunday's New York Times:

"Bill Cosby spawned a cottage industry among opinion writers when he ascended a podium in Washington last year and harangued inner-city parents for doing too little to educate their children. He threw salt in the wound by saying those parents were spending too much on expensive sneakers and not enough on books.

"Those brief remarks have continued to reverberate through the court of public opinion. Conservatives are hailing Mr. Cosby as the tough love truth teller of the moment. Liberals have come close to describing him as a race traitor, as Prof. Michael Eric Dyson of the University of Pennsylvania recently pointed out in his incendiary book, Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?" Read the rest of Staples' article here.

Hear Dr. Dyson on NPR discussing the topic, and read his comments on Z-Net .

The Black Commentator argues that "we can't afford Bill Cosby anymore," comparing him to a radio shock-jock, and provides a detailed look at Cosby's commentary over the years to understand him in his larger political significance. Very worthwhile and insightful analysis.

I've always enjoyed Cosby's comedy--I'd argue he's one of the finest comedians the US ever produced. But his cultural commentary of late (and sadly, as I've now learned, prior to late) is another story. Yet this is the same man who's donated huge amounts of money to worthwhile causes, and even helped finance the Spike Lee Malcolm X feature film and the breakthrough Black indie film Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song. I hope Cos'll put his awesome powers of communication to more balanced and compassionate effect in the very near future.

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