Though the discussion here was not of our book, A Lie of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable’s Malcolm X, it does speak directly to the issue(s) we raise therein. During their exchange at this year’s Left Forum panel on Manning Marable’s reinvention of Malcolm X Amiri Baraka and Bill Fletcher (along with Haki Madhubuti at a panel moderated by Herb Boyd) approach precisely the issues over ideology and academic rigor our contributors raise throughout in their criticism of Marable’s work and its defenders.
Fletcher attacks critics he doesn’t name and never soundly addresses the principled criticism of the work (and by the way, his comments about Zaheer Ali being able to stand up and defend the research in Marable’s book belie the reality that Ali has yet to do so despite many an opportunity — see our book’s intro for more). Baraka challenges Fletcher on the very nature of Marable’s analysis, questions Fletcher on his own and challenges everyone to stop avoiding real talk about ideology. We also include a clip from Baraka’s earlier exchange with Michael Eric Dyson which we think does more to make our point that Marable’s is a version of Malcolm X suited to his own brand of liberal “Left” politics and that of his publishers. And we must also point out that all of these men – in what is to us a powerful contradiction – support the neo-liberal/colonial Democratic party and its anti-progressive president Barack Obama. This we feel was another disturbing motive behind the approach to Malcolm X in Marable/Viking Press’ Reinvention.
* March 17, 2012