Can’t tell him nothing
30 April 2018
From asserting that George Bush ‘doesn’t care about black people’ to stealing a 20-year-old Taylor Swift’s chance at an award speech and then featuring both of them as naked replicas in a rap video, Kanye West has done some pretty rude and outlandish stuff.
But for many, supporting the democratically elected President of The United States was simply a bridge too far.
It’s been a strange few weeks on Twitter. However, the reverberations of West’s statements have shed serious light on how the ‘progressive’ left reacts to differing viewpoints, especially ones which emerge from their celebrity elite.
When Kanye West recently reiterated his support for Donald Trump on Twitter, opponents of the President began voicing their discontent over the hip-hop artist’s allegiance to him.
West’s strike of free thought was the idea that ‘self-victimisation is a disease’ and ‘the mob’ can’t make him ‘not love’ Donald Trump, which lit the fuse of left-leaning pundits and exploded their insular bubble.
On top of that, Chance The Rapper chimed in with the seemingly innocuous statement, ‘black people don’t have to be Democrats.’
This whipped up quite the storm across social media. Actor, Kumail Nanjiani, called it the ‘the worst Twitter day in Twitter history,’ and comedian, Billy Eichner, concurred it was a ‘nightmare.’ Hit pieces came out. West’s mental state fell into question as groups shunned him and others claimed him. Sites began circulating fake news that West had lost nine million Twitter followers, even though he hadn’t. Prominent celebrities such as Kendrick Lamar, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, and a few of his Kardashian sisters-in-law did unfollow him.
All of this because Kanye dared to support Donald. Only in this day and age could someone receive so much flak for wanting the President to succeed.
On their own, West’s tweets are nothing much to speak of. So what if he thinks self-victimisation is a disease? Did we really expect the I Am A God rapper to not be all about self-empowerment? And did we really expect him to love the president who called him a ‘jackass’ and hate the one who gave him a meeting?
We can’t be that delusional.
But what was more substantial than the tweets themselves were the reactions they received—from both sides of the political spectrum.
The criticism levelled at West from liberals was swift and harsh. Of course, challenging opinion is at the heart of a good discourse; however, in this case, I struggle to see how these responses were justified and reasoned.
What West said should not have provoked the backlash it did. Aligning himself with the President caused people to cast aspersions about his stance on other issues, claim he had mental health problems, and call him a hypocrite.
People were quick to praise Eminem for dividing his fanbase due to political beliefs, but the same kind of grace could not be extended to Kanye.
The reason why is simple: they didn’t like what he had to say.
West is not a right-wing figure, but his statements online were evocative of the typical conservative and libertarian talking points that have become so popular over the last few years. It would be hard for anyone to read ‘the thought police want to suppress freedom of thought’ without thinking of the conservative view of free speech and individualism.
The left isn’t afraid of what Kanye has to say. They are afraid of libertarian and conservative ideas becoming mainstream, communicated through the platform of one of the world’s biggest celebrities.
If the idea that ‘black people don’t have to be Democrats’ is taken to heart, it would break the Democratic Party’s monopoly on the black vote, threatening their influence.
So when Kanye rapped, ‘see that’s the problem with this damn nation, all Blacks gotta be Democrats, man, we ain’t made it off the plantation,’ opponents could only respond by calling him an Uncle Tom, a dehumanising term meant to attack black people for not having the same opinions as other black people.
It’s identity politics, or as West calls it, ‘monolithic thought.’
The reaction to Kanye’s statements from the right hasn’t been ideal either. Hungry for celebrity appreciation, conservatives and Republicans have jumped on the chance to call West one of their own, championing his ideology and support for the president.
While he may be the biggest star to don the MAGA hat so far, West is nowhere near the most reliable. The right shouldn’t be so quick to see an ideological ally in him, as it’s difficult to draw a conservative through line between disparate parts of West’s rhetoric.
As both a celebrity and now a political figure, Kanye West routinely defies expectations, something any side should take into account before calling him one of their own.
The controversy surrounding his support for the President is misplaced, more indicative of the extreme degree to which people hate Trump and fear the mainstreaming of conservative values, something that will happen at an increasingly fast rate if the left continues to treat individuals as crumbs of their collective.