Smiley and West: Poverty, Income Inequalities in US Could Lead to UK-Like Riots

Aug 11, 2011 7:30am

On Nightline last night we sat down with PBS and radio talk show host Tavis Smiley and Princeton University professor Dr. Cornel West about their Poverty Tour:

MzYyMmEyMSZvZj*w Smiley and West: Poverty, Income Inequalities in US Could Lead to UK Like Riots

 They have been very critical of President Obama, decrying what they charge is his lack of attention to the plight of the poor.

"I know what the president is up against," Smiley said. "But I think too often he compromises, too often he capitulates. I think the Republicans know that. I think they laugh when he's not around."

West, noting that the president has a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr., in the Oval Office, said King "weeps when he sees poor and working people suffering and no fundamental focus."

Asked if the riots we've seen in the UK could happen here because of these problems, the two said yes.

"One percent of the people owning and controlling more wealth than 90% of Americans, that's unsustainable.  That math won't hold up long-term. There is a bubbling, there is a restlessness."

"If you don't treat poor and working people with dignity now, chickens are going to come home to roost later," West said. "And it won't be about love and justice. It will be about revenge, hatred, and then we all go under."

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