“Nothing Kanye West Said Was Antisemitic”

* “You have the right to free speech 

As long as you’re not dumb enough to actually try it”

– The Clash


Now, please let me preface this post by stating that, for a long time, Kanye West has been engulfed in a money grind the stature of which is something I can barely conceptualize and which could probably be classified as “greedy” with plausible authority. Pretty much since his career began, he’s been wearing expensive polo shirts and rapping about his “chains,” which he’s refused to let go (“That’d be the same day / I give the game back”). I’ve seen him on album covers driving expensive cars with Jay-Z and showing pictures of beaches in Cancun but, still, that never even seemed to be enough for him. So is he in the throes of a “cultural war” between black people and the rest of the world, or the erstwhile ruling gentry? I’d say so. (My mind races back to that line in “Crack Music” of “We go’ repo everything they ever took from granny.”)

There are lots of things that make Kanye West who he is. This is, in fact, one mechanism which makes him so fun to listen to, musically, and also, perhaps, so fun, or easy, to criticize in the media. I mean the guy is just hyper-sensitive. He pledges staunch, virulent allegiance, that is, to Jesus, in his first big song “Jesus Walks,” and then proceeds to go on myriad spiels about smoking weed, which is condemned by the bible, about diamonds in Africa, which obviously have nothing to do with Jesus, and about how horny he is for women who are “36/26 and double d,” to quote his verse in “Get ’em High.” So yes, I think it is a case where you poke this guy in the shoulder with a bamboo stick and he starts WWIII on you, because he emotionally invests in all these different things (one of which, stridently, is hip-hop, of course), to the point where there’s nothing possible that doesn’t offend him. 

But, equally, we as consumers, as well as the mass media, are hyper-sensitive just the same. A case in point would be the uproar over Ye [1] wearing a shirt that says “White Lives Matter.” “White Lives Matter.” I mean, just think about it. Those are like the most innocuous words you could drum up if you tried and the reason we react so forcefully against it all has to do with cultural conditioning, of associating it with hate, to the point where we’re completely brainwashed into a paradigm of fear and conflict. By wearing a shirt with those words, for all we know, Ye could just be trying to reconstruct language itself and wash it of all its loaded, pregnant and culturally manifest connotations. 

As far as I can tell, everything Ye said on social media amounts to an administration of opinion. By rule, opinionated matters cannot be antisemitic, unless the remarks pertain to some existential flaw on the parts of Jews, which his did not. He focused solely on behavioral matters, functional things within the music industry, about which, of course, Kanye West should by this time certainly be an expert. When I think of the term “antisemitic” I associate it with hate, bigotry and even threats on a universal level, as in condemning little Jewish girls, Bot Mitzvahs, the holiday Hannukah, etc. West did not even make a single threat (that later tweet of “going death con 3 on Jewish people” is something I take tongue-in-cheek [2]… call me crazy or call me a product of the’ 90s) and focused solely on matters which had to do with his profession. 

And it’s beside the point of whether or not he’s wrong, or whether or not he’s a psychopath, which I generally think he is, and which professing his love for porn stars and dying his hair blonde should have proven a long time ago. He’s being persecuted in America for administering a harmless opinion. I mean, let that sink it… or try to deny it, if you truly think you’re leading an especially righteous path in your everyday life. 


[1] This is, I believe, the adopted name of the rapper Kanye West… I promise that will be the last alias I bring in here. 


[2] Along these same lines, I think we’re experiencing a torrential glut in our society today of news stories based on tweets or social media posts — this sort of voyeurism and paradigmatic derogation of radical posts denigrates the entity of free speech. 


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