By Michael Yu, Oct. 25, 2022
The artist Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, is once again making headlines after he donned a shirt with the phrase “White Lives Matter” plastered on the back, posted several threatening antisemitic messages on social media and conducted numerous controversial interviews.
As someone who has been a diehard fan of Ye and his music, it is incredibly disheartening to see someone I once held up on a pedestal spout such hateful messages. There is no excuse for his recent actions; this is not an elaborate piece of “performance art,” this is hate speech, pure and simple.
An artist with a platform as large as Ye sharing these antisemitic messages poses a danger to the Jewish community. By painting Jewish people as the outdated stereotype of an all-encompassing global power that controls everything and claiming that he was going to go “death-con 3” on Jewish people, Ye is giving power to extremely dangerous groups.
These fears are not unfounded. According to the Anti-Defamation League, 1,414 cases of antisemitic hate crimes were committed in 2022 so far. These crimes varied from swastikas vandalizing public areas to a brick being thrown through the window of a synagogue. Additionally, 26% of the world harbor antisemitic beliefs, according to the ADL.
Ye’s statements on Jewish people were was met with support from websites with large Neo-Nazi or White Supremacist followings such as 4chan or Telegram, according to an article by Rolling Stone. These are groups of people that wallow in their pools of hatred, and having one of the most popular artists in the world publicly announce his support for similarly abhorrent ideas validates them and gives them a figurehead to latch on to.
I find it extremely concerning that Ye is constantly finding new platforms to share these messages. From an interview with Tucker Carlson to an appearance on the podcast Drink Champs, these platforms gave Ye’s hateful messages a place to fester, even if the interviews were eventually edited or deleted. Even when Ye was deplatformed, he saw it as evidence as Jewish control.
Now with Ye making plans to purchase conservative chat app Parler, it seems like this wave of hate speech from him will only become stronger as he surrounds himself with a hivemind of bigots.
During now-edited-out segments of the interview with Carlson, Ye acted paranoid and claimed that “fake children” were planted into his house to control his real children and that public figures kidnapped his daughter Chicago on her birthday.
Whether these statements were made solely due to an extreme bipolar episode or genuine belief is unclear up in the air, but ight wing grifters are out to exploit Ye to amplify their own agendas. Carlson was able to show the world a powerful Black man who had similar political views to his and was not afraid to go against the left-leaning elites of the world.
Even with all of his money and fame, Ye still finds himself taken advantage of by others. No amount of material belongings will change this unless he realizes what is being done to him and his image.
Ye’s statements go beyond just antisemitism, however. In 2020, Ye donated two million dollars and paid college tuition for George Floyd’s daughter after Floyd was murdered by police. Now, during his now-deleted appearance on Drink Champs, he claimed that Floyd died due to fentanyl in his system and that “the guy’s [Chauvin’s] knee was not even on his neck like that,” something that has been disproven numerous times before and is a popular right-wing talking point regarding Floyd’s murder.
Seeing this degradation of ideals over the years has been a particularly difficult road to follow. I believe that Ye’s music and fashion is timeless, but he has fallen so far into the pit of right-wing conspiracy theories that it has started to taint his legacy.
Following these comments, Ye had his Instagram and Twitter accounts suspended, prompting another rant where he claimed that Jewish media locked him out and debated about his free speech. Ye is someone who has always been free with his words, but this freedom does not absolve him from facing the consequences of his actions.
From the infamous interruption of Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMA’s to his donning of the MAGA hat during the 2018 elections, it is obvious that Ye is no stranger to controversy. These events usually preceded the release of an album or clothing.
Over the past few months, Ye has been in the middle of a storm of controversy and hate. His messages spread through various platforms and perpetuated outdated and harmful stereotypes while right-wing public figures commandeer his voice to strengthen their own.
These trends generated a general excuse for Ye whenever he acted out; that it was just an elaborate piece of performance art to promote whatever he plans to release soon. However, the question is what kind of art warrants this type of speech? The answer is none. Any art that regurgitates this kind of hateful bile is art that should be left alone to rot.
Feature image by Jackson Gray
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