Rapper and musician Kanye West (aka Ye) posted an anti-Semitic threat of violence against Jewish people over the weekend. It’s the latest in a series of bigoted comments that have horrified many former fans.
However, these statements were also celebrated by right-wing media figures and politicians. Kanye’s enthusiastic, undeniable turn to anti-Semitism shows that anti-Semitism is central and an inevitable consequence of the GOP’s turn to politics of division and intolerance.
Kanye’s tweet, which has since been deleted for a egregious violation of the Twitter Rules, read, “I’m a little tired but when I wake up I’m going to death penalty JEWISH PEOPLE.” He added, “You guys played with me and try to black out anyone who opposes your agenda.”
Kanye’s message here is consistent with that of other anti-Semites from Hitler down. Like the Nazis, Kanye suggests that Jewish people have great power and oppress him. His hatred of the Jewish people and his explicit incitement to violence are presented as a reasonable and necessary response to alleged Jewish attacks on him. For anti-Semites, paranoia and bigotry justify violence and even more bigotry.
Of course, Jews didn’t really oppress Kanye. His tweet is not a response to anything Jewish people have done. Instead, it’s an extension of Kanye’s own embrace of reactionary bigotry.
Kanye began campaigning for the right and Donald Trump about three years ago. However, last week there was a clear escalation.
Ye appeared at Paris Fashion Week with conservative pundit Candace Owens. Both wore t-shirts that read “White Lives Matter”. The phrase is a racist response to the Black Lives Matter movement, which protests disproportionate police violence against black people.
There is actually a neo-Nazi group called White Lives Matter that popularized the phrase. The Southern Poverty Law Center writes that it was originally an offshoot of the Texas Aryan Renaissance Society. The organization has issued statements against interracial marriage and says it is “dedicated to the advancement of the white race.”
Kanye is black and his use of an explicit pro-white supremacist slogan drew understandable backlash from peers. Fashion Editor-in-Chief Gabriella Karefa-Johnson called the shirt “untenable”. Singer and actor Jaden Smith walked out. Rapper and producer P Diddy messaged Kanye to object. Basically everyone in fashion told him that wearing white racist slogans was a bad idea.
Kanye responded with a double. On Instagram, he quickly transitioned from white supremacy to misogyny, mocking Karefa-Johnson’s performance. He also implied that Diddy was controlled by Jewish people and boasted, “I’ll use you as an example to show the Jews who told you to call me that nobody can threaten or influence me.”
White supremacy, misogyny, and anti-Semitism alienate many of Yes’s friends and fans. But hate is like catnip to the right. As the controversy escalated, Republicans rushed to join Kanye’s ugly bigotry. The House Republican Judiciary Committee account posted a tweet that read, “Kanye. Elon. Trump card.”
Tucker Carlson also invited Kanye for a lengthy interview. During the program, Ye criticized his former wife Kim Kardashian’s fashion choices and launched an unprovoked, openly misogynist and fat-phobic tirade against rapper and musician Lizzo. He also attacked Tump’s son-in-law and former senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, claiming that Kusher only worked on the Abraham Accords, an Israeli peace deal, to “make money.” Kushner is Jewish, and Kanye’s comment uses anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jewish greed.
It should come as no surprise that white supremacy and anti-Semitism go together. White supremacists like the Nazis and the KKK typically argue that Jewish people are a distinct race. White racist propaganda, such as the 1978 Turner Diaries, presents Jews as shadowy manipulators promoting civil rights for blacks in order to weaken the white race.
At present, anti-Semitism is less openly accepted by the right than some other forms of prejudice. That’s why Fox and Friends on the air had to embarrassingly switch from promoting Kanye’s white racist messages to condemning his anti-Semitism.
But as Kanye makes clear, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and incidentally, misogyny and fat phobia go together and reinforce each other.
Black people generally have good reason to reject white supremacists who hate them. But for black people who are not Jewish, anti-Semitism can also offer common ground with neo-Nazis. Just as for Jews who are not black, white supremacy that focuses on anti-blackness can be attractive (conservative Jewish expert Ben Shapiro supported Kanye’s appearance on Tucker Carlson, but in particular did not oppose Kanye’s threat of “death cheats “pronounced 3” Jewish people.)
The right offers its supporters a range of bigotry and hatred. If you’re white or Christian or male or straight or cis or commoner or old, the GOP will tell you that you’re better than anyone else out there. They will assure you that someone else is trying to take your money, your status, your power and your God-given right to be just as cruel and vicious and hateful towards those who are less white, less Christian or less manly than you are .
Kanye likes to think of himself as a genius provocateur, too great and special to follow any rules. His assessment of his own claim is enormous. Therefore he finds the celebration of irresponsible privileges of the right sympathetic; he has said that wearing a Trump MAGA hat made him “feel like Superman.”
However, feeling like Superman means seeing everyone else as lesser mortals — petty-minded, greedy supervillains trying to tear down the truly extraordinary. When people ask Kanye to stop being cruel and terrible, or to use his platform responsibly, he sees them as part of a vast conspiracy of mediocrity – devious women and Jews trying to curtail a great man’s bragging power.
It’s a fantasy that would be both sad and ridiculous if not armed by a political party determined to make hate the law of the land.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/kanye-wests-antisemitism-is-part-of-a-wider-bigotry-that-appeals-to-the-right-42073347.html Kanye West’s anti-Semitism is part of a broader bigotry targeting the right