Kanye West becomes a talking piece for antisemitism


In recent months, antisemitism has found a new talking piece in Kanye West (Photo courtesy of StopAntiSemitism)

Over the past few months, renowned hip-hop artist Kanye West has spread increasingly alarming rhetoric on the topics of Nazism and antisemitism. While we’ve seen some smaller celebrities and public figures voice extremely hateful views in the past, it’s frightening to see hate coming from a person who holds such a dominant grip on American society.

For more than a decade, West has been a media sensation because of some questionable decisions which have been chalked up to mental health issues. In more recent years, Kanye’s issues have become more violent and targeted in nature, like when he publicly harassed comedian Pete Davidson after Davidson and Kanye’s ex-wife Kim Kardashian began dating.

In early October of 2022, West continued his downward spiral. West appeared at a fashion show in Paris with conservative commentator Candace Owens, where they both donned shirts reading “White Lives Matter”. West claimed he was simply trying to bait a negative reaction from the public, but that slogan has been used by numerous neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups. 

A few days later, West published a statement on his Twitter account about going “deathcon 3 on Jewish people”, which quickly garnered the attention of millions of people. West also cited the stereotypical and antisemitic conspiracy theory that Jewish people are in total control of the world and media, even though Jewish people make up a small percentage of Earth’s population.

After receiving restrictions on social media and losses in sponsorships following the incident, West seemed to quiet down for a few weeks. However, he eventually met with former President Donald Trump and Holocaust-denying white supremacist Nick Fuentes for dinner at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate on November 22nd. President Trump said later on that he had no idea who Nick Fuentes was leading up to the event, and simply wished to discuss West’s plans to run in the upcoming 2024 presidential election. Either way, seeing extremist views in connection with one of America’s most powerful political figures is frightening for American minorities who are most targeted by the rhetoric. 

West did announce his plans to run for president in 2024. In the 2020 presidential election, he lost by an extreme margin, garnering only 60,000 votes out of the 160 million votes cast. However, having West publicized along with other election contenders does pose a serious issue. His presence helps make extremists look more rational and helps normalize the views he spews out. The more West can rant about antisemitic conspiracies, the less extreme the views become to the public. This desensitization of hatred due to overexposure is a significant issue in our society, and West is one of its main perpetrators

West also appeared on Alex Jones’ show InfoWars, where he stated that he “likes Hitler” and that the Nazis “did good things”. Jones even tried to help preserve West’s image by asking whether West acknowledged the horrific atrocities of the Nazis, but West doubled down in these instances and continued to compliment aspects of the Nazi regime.

Whether West has decided to preach hateful ideology because of a genuine belief or because of a want for attention remains unclear. Either way, his popularity has already proven to be a danger to American politics. West’s follower counts on various social media apps have barely changed despite his remarks, and white supremacist groups are now protesting with signs that read “Kanye is right about the Jews”.