Zach Petroff | Opinions Editor
Oct. 13, 2022
It is my staunch belief that there should be a level of lee-way afforded to the true geniuses of our time. While the word “genius” has become diluted due to its presence in our everyday lexicon — the title should be reserved for those that truly have an “exceptional intellectual or creative power or other natural ability.”
Ye, formally known as Kanye West — while incredibly polarizing and unorthodox — is a true genius.
Ye’s unapologetic demeanor, artistic vision and unique perspective has turned the Chicago-based rapper into an American icon. His contributions to not only the hip-hop community, but to all of music have spanned all genres while heavily influencing two generations of music.
His fearless approach to speaking his mind, as convoluted as it may be, has been a distinct aspect of his career. His perspective has granted him a level of credibility for those that truly take the time to listen to the initial message. While his antics are just that, antics, the intended message is usually with merit.
It is not unusual for an artist to challenge the popular perspective on various subject matters, only to be crucified by the public; The Chicks, formally known as the Dixie Chicks were lambasted for their disapproval of the Iraq War, Lenny Bruce’s arrest and conviction for obscenity and Marinas Abramovic’s performances are a few examples of artists going against the grain to speak truth to power.
There have been a number of outspoken Ye moments that have challenged societal norms and sparked a national debate.
In a world that finds itself politicizing every action of every event, it would be nearly impossible to find anyone whose ideology aligns perfectly with our own. While Ye’s recent stance on the Black Lives Matter movement, the Me Too movement, his uncredited academy and support of the MAGA movement are in stark contrast to my personal beliefs, I still appreciate his artistry.
Ye has been very public about his struggles with mental-health and it is important to recognize that he has said he was taking himself off of medication for his bi-polar disorder diagnosis. The public discourse surrounding mental health is often rooted in problematic judgmental dogma and has been a driving force for some of the public scrutiny that Ye has faced throughout his career.
However, his latest cry for attention is a bridge too far.
On Friday, Ye made an Instagram post condemning fellow rapper Diddy for “being controlled by the media.” His post was removed and his account was banned within a few hours. Ye would then move his rant to Twitter, praising Elon Musk and claiming he was ready to go “Death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.” Twitter would remove the post and block his account as well.
Ye’s blatant disregard for the Black and Jewish community comes at a time when political figures are openly embracing the Q-Anon narrative, a conspiracy-theory led movement that is rooted in antisemitism and xenophobia.
Likely Republican candidate and former President Donald Trump, whose affiliation with the conspiracy movement has been held at bay, said in a 2020 press conference, “I don’t know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate.”
As Trump is gearing up for a presidential campaign, he is openly embracing the fringe group. Using his Truth Social platform, he reposted an image of himself wearing a Q lapel pin. During his recent rallies Trump has played the QAnon anthem to close out his speeches.
A recent analysis by the Associated Press found nearly 75 accounts Trump has responded to on his Truth Social profile, more than a third of them have promoted QAnon by sharing the movement’s slogans, videos or imagery. About 1 in 10 of the accounts include QAnon language or links in their profile bios.
The FBI has designated this extremist movement as domestic terrorism. When one peels the shallow layers of the fringe conspiracy theories, it becomes quite clear. QAnon is an antisemitic hate group that is having success finding its way into the mainstream.
Ye’s recent antisemitic stance promotes this hateful rhetoric that aligns too closely with the fundamental teaching of QAnon. His stance coupled with Trump’s courtship of the hate group emboldens those who practice and preach hate.
When Trump famously referred to Covid-19 as the “Wuhan Flu” hate crimes against Asians rose 76% in 2020, according to the FBI. The Anti-Defamation league reported a 34% rise in hate crimes aimed at the Jewish community in 2021, an average of more than 7 antisemitic incidents per day.
As the presidential election creeps closer, the voice of these deranged and hateful people will be echoed through their candidates. The normalizing of hate and intolerance seems to grow every day. False narratives dripping with the same ideology of neo-Nazis groups are making their way into the conscience of society like a festering cancer.
This is not a time to make excuses for the ignorantly ill-informed. This is a time to call out spewers of violent hatred and hold them accountable for damage they are causing.