What lessons can we learn from Kanye West’s messed up mind? We can start by drawing some important distinctions.
Mr. Wests is a special kind of anti-Semitism. Leftist activist Shaun King writes in Newsweek that “you don’t have to be white to be white supremacist” and that “Kanye West is now a full-fledged white supremacist.” This is a category error.
The “white extinction” conspiracy theory promoted by white supremacists claims that Jews advance integration, miscegenation and civil rights as part of a plot to replace the white race. Mr. West seems to think otherwise. “Jewish people have owned the black vote,” he said on a recent podcast, later talking about black Americans “being signed to a [Jewish-owned] record label, or having a Jewish manager, or being signed to a Jewish basketball team, or making a movie on a Jewish platform like Disney.
That kind of talk sounds a lot like the rants of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, the world’s leading black antisemite. “You can’t do anything in Hollywood unless you go past them” – the Jews – Mr. Farrakhan said in a 2010 speech. “You’re a hip-hop artist? You can’t do anything, you gotta go past them. You wanna be a big sports figure? They own that plantation. Children of Israel, they made you jump through hoops .”
Similarly, Mr. West’s claim that Planned Parenthood was founded by Jews to control the black population is the inverse of the white supremacist notion that Jews promoted abortion to exterminate whites. Again, Mr. West merely echoed the Nation of Islam, which has long implicated Planned Parenthood in a supposed black “depopulation” agenda.
Or take Mr. West’s “lost tribes” theory. “When I say Jew,” he told Tucker Carlson in an unaired excerpt of an Oct. 6 interview, “I mean the 12 lost tribes of Judah, the blood of Christ, as the people known as the black race really are.”
This comes directly from the doctrine of black supremacy. The Nation of Islam’s central tenet is that Jews cheated black people out of their birthright as God’s chosen. “The original Hebrews are black,” Mr. Farrakhan says in the same 2010 speech. It is also the animating idea behind Israel’s Black Hebrew movement, where two followers shot and killed four people in a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, NJ, in 2019.
Even Mr. West’s reported praise of Hitler echoes that of Mr Farrakhan, who described Hitler as “a very great man” and expressed delight at comparisons between himself and the murderer of six million Jews.
None of this is surprising. Mr. West has had a long-standing relationship with Mr. Farrakhan, conferring with him on several occasions and visiting the Nation of Islam headquarters in 2005. In a song, Mr. West Mr. Farrakhan as his “sensei”.
Does it matter what strain of Jew-hatred Mr. West subscribes to? Distinctions matter – and in the American media’s reluctance to acknowledge black anti-Semitism, it has lagged. The past few years have seen hundreds of attacks on Jews in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY, and other Hasidic enclaves, most of them by African Americans.
Among other African-American abuses that have been memory gaps is the 2020 Hanukkah murder of a rabbi in his own home in Monsey, NY. The Black Lives Matter movement has a disturbing preoccupation with Israel, and one of its key bodies released a platform. accusing the Jewish state of genocide.
There is a reason for the confusion over the source of Mr. West’s racist views. The American commentariat now reacts to subtle acts of Jew-hatred based primarily on their partisan utility. When the Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib tweet one of their occasional slurs about Jewish money or Americans’ dual loyalty to Israel, the right notices the anti-Semitism on display, while the left either excuses or ignores it. Similarly, because Mr. West has endorsed Donald Trump, the former president’s enemies eagerly cast his statements about Jewish power as representative of a grand American conservatism. On the populist right, firebrand commentator Candace Owens, meanwhile, tweeted that Adidas “better pay Ye” after the company canceled its contracts with Mr. West.
It is absurd to call Mr. West a purveyor of “white supremacy”. His racism comes from another source and should be called by its proper name. Leviticus 19:17 says, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason honestly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.” In other words, confront your friend’s sin so that you do not share his guilt.
Mr. Greenwald is the managing editor of Commentary magazine.
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