“OMG, did you see what Kanye West said?” These days it is difficult to escape discussion of the quirky rantings of celebrities, especially when they are political in nature. The latest controversy is surrounding Kanye West, who is apparently the devil incarnate now, according to the media reactions to his recent antics. I normally do not follow the ramblings of celebrities, but in this case I thought I’d review what he has been saying to see if the backlash is warranted.
West seems to have become a favorite punching bag for the Left, as they appear to be primed to attribute his words and actions directly to Republican politics and conservative thought in general. West’s opinions and the basis of modern American conservatism share some overlap, although many of his views are not consistent with objectively-derived conservative positions or expectations of virtuous behavior. Overall, he is a poor representative of American Conservatism and should be treated more as an individual with strong underdeveloped opinions that often appear tailored to suit his desires and interests or are reflective of his experiences rather than rooted in principle. But he says what he wants and sometimes what he says needs to be said. He is currently being “canceled” to the extreme- losing business deals and being socially ostracized. Is it justified? Is he crazy, or crazy like a fox (Using the media attention for future business opportunities and other selfish goals)? A Forbes article outlined West’s recent controversial comments. Let’s explore them one by one.
“White Lives Matter”
White lives do matter. So do black lives. All lives matter. It seems extremely likely West was intending to promote this basic truth and tenet of our system and to criticize the divisive and ideologically-driven BLM movement, not promote a white nationalist message like the SPLC laughably insinuated. Remember, this is the same Kanye West that infamously proclaimed in front of the world, “(President) George Bush doesn’t care about black people” in an attempt to raise awareness of their plight after Hurricane Katrina. Logically, it makes little sense a black man like West would promote a so-called racist organization and message. SPLC, like much of the media in general, is making an erroneous assumption and is substituting their own conclusion in the BLM/ALM argument for West’s more likely point in order to attack him. If someone wants to disagree and “cancel” him for this opinion, so be it, but it will look petty and subsequent criticism of that decision is definitely warranted. Verdict: Partisan disagreement, let him be.
Throwing out a murder accusation without evidence is irresponsible. Of course, without further explanation and an independent investigation we will not know if it is true or not. If it is true that West is using the death for his own advantage, he is certainly acting immoral. If he is simply referring to actions that are unhealthy and contributed to a death in the long run (as may have been the case with his George Floyd comments detailed below) then it is probably true he ought to have been more tactful in his delivery. This instance does not seem as high-profile as some of the others, but just in terms of the merits of the act, it is worthy of high criticism. Verdict: Irresponsible, criticism warranted.
Accusing Adidas of Stealing Designs
This seems like typical celebrity drama queen stuff. Unvirtuous, but expected from celebrities these days, unfortunately. Of course it would be hard to fault Adidas specifically for wanting to “cancel” him if he is going to accuse them of “stealing” his designs. Verdict: Stupid, but a “nothing burger” compared to other controversies these days.
Abortion “Genocide of Black Babies”
West opposes abortion. Good for him. Abortion is an abominable act and a violation of fundamental inalienable rights. The idea West’s claims are “baseless” is well, baseless. If we look at the (imperfect and almost certainly undercounted) government statistics for New York City (health.ny.gov), depending on the year, it may or may not be true that there were more abortions than live births for the Non-Hispanic black population. It was true in 2015, not technically true in 2017 but it was close. The rates are much higher than for other groups. In the District of Columbia and 29 states that reported racial and ethnic data on abortion to the CDC, 38% of all women who had abortions in 2019 were non-Hispanic Black (a group that only comprises less than 14% of the overall population). In 2019 there were 346,677 deaths of Non-Hispanic blacks (excluding abortion) according to CDC data. Just based on their limited and imperfect data, there were at least 240,000 black abortions in the US in 2019. The figure is closer to 348,255 according to Guttmacher Institute data at the same rate. The actual number is certainly much higher but unknown. So it is not a stretch to say “half” of black death in the US is due to abortion if you recognize the rights and personhood of preborn human beings. West does, his leftist critics do not. Should he be “cancelled” for this? Not if you believe in free speech and respect the arguments of others. I also find it amusing that his critics can simultaneously claim he supports racist white nationalism and is also sounding the alarm on policy that ultimately allows for the deliberate depopulation of blacks in America. Verdict: Legitimate issue, West deserves praise, not criticism.
This is by far the most significant of the accusations against West and it is responsible for the harshest of backlashes against him. It is never a good idea to blame larger groups, specificially ethnic or religious groups, for the negative behavior, real or perceived, of individuals or even specific groups of individuals. West would do well to limit his criticism to the actions and behaviors of individuals and the merits of ideas rather than suggesting historically stigmatized groups are responsible. Many musicians throughout the modern era have accused record labels, executives, producers, etc of taking advantage of artists and not treating them fairly. Likewise for the relationship between classes – rich vs poor, affluent vs oppressed etc. It would be dishonest to not recognize that many of these people have been “Jewish” but this does not logically warrant an extension to all Jews or suggest their “Jewishness” has anything to do with facilitating improper treatment, real or perceived. Ironically though, the entire worldview upon which BLM and other Leftists base their positions commits the same logical fallacy. We should cancel them! To his credit, it appears West has at least recognized his error somewhat and apologized for the erroneous extension of his accusation being applied to innocent people outside his experience. Verdict: Immoral stereotyping and fallacy, deserving of heavy criticism.
Displaying Porn to Adidas Executives
Not much to say about this one. Verdict: Who cares?
George Floyd Death
George Floyd’s family is suing West for $250 million for his comments about the death. That is much more outrageous than the opinion he expressed. For starters, West had previous gifted George Floyd’s daughter $2 million just to help her out. He didn’t need to do that, yet now they want to sue him. What he said was far from baseless, in fact it was part of Officer Chauvin’s defense. Mr. Floyd did have a high level of fentanyl and other drugs in his system according to the autopsy that could have been lethal on their own. His actions did likely contribute to his death since he had to be restrained. The actions of Officer Chauvin, as the jury indicated, were also responsible for the death but all the rest can still be questioned. Since when do people need to agree with official jury findings 100% of the time? This lawsuit and the media backlash against West seems to be indicative of a disturbing trend and threat to free speech. West did not invent the opinion he expressed, it wasn’t a completely made up lie, and he did not profit off it. One does not need to agree with it to simply listen to it and refute it or disagree if desired. Not discussing such things rationally is what caused much of the unrest and violence following the incident. Should West be “cancelled” over this opinion? Maybe, if someone he is doing business with sees it as harmful to be associated with it. Hopefully the lawsuit is thrown out however, as these comments do not seem to rise to the bar necessary for defamation or similar accusations. Certainly there is more to the incident to discuss than the mainstream media wants to remember these days. Verdict: West could have been more tactful, but he was not completely out of line.
Calling Biden “Retarded”
To call Biden “f**king r**arded” is an insult to the mentally handicapped. That’s a joke. There is much talk of West’s mental health issues but it is no excuse for using such a term as an insult these days. If you do, you can expect someone to disagree and criticize you for it. That said, it is not really a big deal compared to the absolute filth that comes out of the mouths of singers and rappers these days, the celebrated and vilified alike. Verdict: Wrong, but another “nothing burger.”
What’s the Final Verdict?
Kanye West, with his massive following and talent for getting attention, appears to be viewed as a threat to the mainstream Democrat/Progressive/Leftist establishment because he frequently espouses opinions contrary to their interests and appeals to demographics normally assumed to lean towards their political persuasion. But by acting as he does, he also threatens American Conservatism by giving the media a punching bag upon which they can attack not only West and what he actually says, but also by erroneously attributing his more errant views to conservative thought in general. Considering these recent controversies, the ones that deal with genuine issues (abortion/BLM/George Floyd) are basically attacks on Kanye’s watered-down versions of more serious arguments made by conservatives and independent voices. The ones that are based more on Kanye’s experiences and opinions (murder accusations, intellectual property theft, mistreatment by Jews, etc) are cringy and weaponized as a proxy attack on others based on Kanye’s perceived association. Conservatives, if they are smart, will denounce these latter incidents as distractions and focus directly on the substance of the former issues to capitalize off the attention they are receiving. Nobody should feel the need to jump to Kanye’s defense; he can take responsibility for his own actions. What we should do is identify the heart of each matter and address it directly. If Kanye is to be “cancelled” let it be for his unvirtuous actions, not his views on genuine issues.