On October 8, 2022, prominent American record producer, rapper, and fashion icon Ye, better known as Kanye West, whose My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was voted Pitchfork’s third-best album of the past twenty-five years, tweeted that he was “going death con 3 [sic]” on “JEWISH PEOPLE [sic].”
Kanye, a former presidential candidate, and ex-husband of household-name socialite Kim Kardashian is an A-list celebrity. Most A-list celebrities have handlers—people who vet their social media posts, for example—to protect their brand. Brand safety is a whole career field now.
Kanye, however, appears to have eschewed the help and advice of whoever remains in his shrinking circle of adorers. He followed up his inflammatory tweet with an interview conducted by disgraced Sandy Hook denier and lizard-people-conspiracy-theorist Alex Jones, who appeared almost normal by comparison.
“I like Hitler,” Kanye said, his face entirely obscured by a black fabric mask he wore throughout
“I don’t think Hitler was a good guy … I get the Hugo Boss uniforms; amazing,” Jones equivocated. “But can we just kinda say, you like the uniforms, but that’s about it?”
“There’s a lot of things I love about Hitler. A lot of things,” said Kanye.
Kanye was, of course, banned from Twitter for his series of anti-Semitic outbursts. However, after Elon Musk finalized his purchase of Twitter on October 27, 2022, he promised to restore the accounts of anyone he deemed unrightfully persecuted for exercising their freedom of speech. (Twitter reportedly lost half its top
one hundred advertisers in the aftermath. Again, brand safety.) Kanye’s account was among those subsequently resurrected.
Kanye took this opportunity to tweet a swastika inside a Star of David.
He was banned again, as Elon Musk put it, for incitement to violence, which is a fitting category in which to place neo-Nazism. However, it is worth noting that Kanye’s final tweet was, in fact, an unflattering picture of Musk.
Brands that had associated themselves with Kanye immediately began cutting him off (brand safety). His lucrative Yeezy sneaker contract with Adidas comprised such a large fraction of his net worth that he is reportedly no longer a billionaire. Balenciaga, Gap, and many others carefully severed their partnerships with Kanye’s now-toxic brand—although some took longer than others. Nevertheless, Kanye is currently persona non grata in the corporate world, as most vividly illustrated by his public and humiliating failure to secure a new contract with Skechers after walking into their headquarters unannounced.
StopAntisemitism.org, a nonprofit watchdog, awarded Kanye the un-coveted title of “Anti-Semite of the Year,” which would, in a more functional society, immediately end this man’s whole career.
Kanye’s heel turn inspired perhaps too much Internet discourse. Many were quick to blame Kanye’s untreated bipolar disorder. However, others with the disorder mostly failed to echo these sentiments as, even during manic episodes, bipolar people do not generally entertain fantasies of genocide.
Others drew comparisons between Kanye and Nation of Islam’s head, Louis Farrakhan, although they have little else in common beyond being black people who hate Jews. Farrakhan, who has said that “white people deserve to die,” can hardly be imagined wearing one of Kanye’s “White Lives Matter” hoodies.
Kanye’s fans were divided. One popular website dedicated to Kanye fandom quickly rebranded itself as a forum for Taylor Swift appreciation and Holocaust remembrance. However, neo-Nazis and white supremacists gravitated to Kanye, with one hate group hanging banners from an overpass reading “Kanye was right about the Jews.” Kanye later brought Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes to a dinner at Mar-a-Lago, sparking another round of outrage.
As Kanye’s downward spiral continued, witnesses emerged to testify of some of his earlier, less public remarks. Apparently, he almost named his 2018 album Hitler. (He instead chose to name it Ye after himself.) Multiple reports emerged of Kanye’s longstanding habit of dispensing effusive praise for the Nazi leader. It appears Kanye’s Nazi sympathies have been an open secret among his business associates for years. We can only speculate why none of them risked their careers to expose the fabulously wealthy fashion magnate and record-industry darling.
The media’s response to Kanye’s open hatred of the Jewish people has been mostly disappointing. Yahoo News, for example, tweeted, “Elon Musk said Ye’s account would be suspended after he posted an image that appeared to show a swastika inside a Star of David.”
These weasel words—“appeared to”—represent a totally unnecessary equivocation. What self-respecting journalist so trepidatiously distrusts their own ocular system? Everyone who saw the tweet knew precisely what it contained, yet our culture elevates A-list celebrities to such lofty heights that even when one of them goes full Nazi, they’re given far more than just the benefit of the doubt.
Neutrality has its time and place. Countless situations call for an even hand and an open mind. Jumping to conclusions with insufficient information is bad journalism. However, failing to draw conclusions from obvious evidence is also bad journalism. Downplaying the reality of the current neo-Nazi resurgence is criminally irresponsible journalism.
Kanye is wealthy and influential, but he’s primarily an entertainer—an ephemeral career that can end as quickly as it begins. All but his most die-hard fans will move on. The world has no shortage of talented hip-hop artists. As soon as people stop buying his products, his wellspring will dry up, and everyone will forget about Kanye West.
However, what happens when someone with real power jumps on the Nazi bandwagon? I fear our media will exhibit the same abject cowardice. I fear Americans, left uninformed and unaware of the danger and threat posed by the toxic ideology of neo-Nazism, will collectively shrug their shoulders.
Much Ado About Nazis
Years ago, my wife and I drove a friend to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. We stopped in Dearborn to get breakfast on the way. We passed what I can only describe as a neo-Nazi compound, a large multifamily residence replete with flags bearing swastikas and other Nazi imagery. A large banner hanging from the second story read “No More Tax Dollars for Israel.”
A few blocks down the road, we saw a Mexican restaurant called Las Huastecas (say it out loud), which I think must have been a coincidence.
At any rate, neo-Nazis are here. They’ve been here for decades, and they’re not showing any sign of slowing down. Kanye West’s advocacy represents a bubbling up of something dark that has been simmering beneath the surface of American culture for decades. It also represents an emboldening of those who share this horrific ideology and a historic normalization of their views in the public sphere.
Neo-Nazism cannot be handled with kid gloves. Unless we find a cure for the derangement, its adherents will not stop until they achieve their murderous goals or until someone stops them from doing so. In the face of an ideology that seeks to destroy the Jewish people entirely, silence truly is complicity.
If neo-Nazis are allowed to gain any real power in the United States, if persecution of Jews becomes the law of the land, we can expect America to experience the same fate as Babylon, Rome, and the Third Reich—collapse and destruction. Now is not the time for hand-waving, equivocation, or accommodation.
Neo-Nazism must be identified and called out for what it is—a destructive, satanic creed with no redeeming qualities. Neo-Nazis must be converted or else isolated and ostracized. If starstruck journalists and media talking heads don’t have the courage to do this, the followers of Yeshua must do so in their stead. We can’t rely on the corporate arbiters of brand safety to do it for us; if the cultural tide turns, so will they. We must make a permanent, unapologetic, ideological stand for the Jewish people and against the followers of Adolf Hitler.
This isn’t a controversial statement today, but in the future, who knows? If the sands shift and we find ourselves fighting a losing battle, is this a hill we’re willing to die on? I hope so.
Hitler found appeasement and complicity in far too many corners of Europe—and even, for a time, in America. I pray our generation will have the resolve and the strength of spirit to do better.