Yeezy does it—Kanye West’s anti-Jewish turn
Updated: Nov 3, 2022
How did a nice middle-class boy get himself mixed up in a situation like this? Kanye West is a nice middle-class boy—his mother chaired the English Department at Chicago State University; his father, more of a rough diamond, was the first black photographer at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Kanye himself went to a private school. So West is not your typical hip-hop artist—he was never gangsta, he early on in his career started to affirm Christianity. In fact, he’s never been a true frontman; he started out as a record producer and, by his own admission, he is a weak rapper and lyricist—he always leaned on the tune’s strength to carry his lyrics, his lyrics being “padded out” with social issues and commentary.
I don’t really know anything about rap—Katy Perry is more my bag, but she’s pretty clapped out these days—and yet I’ve always heard about Kanye West to one degree or another, the man is unavoidable. Indeed, I think that his very past as a producer is connected to the way he is unavoidable—West has always played the big picture and wanted to be more than his music. Hence his first “controversial” statement came in 2005, early in his career, when at a Hurricane Katrina benefit concert he said George W. Bush didn’t care about black people—the context being that the looting was quite excessive after that hurricane, and mostly carried out by blacks. It was a fairly standard progressive intervention for the time, although Bush marked it out as a unique low-point in his presidency—yet, for Kanye, it was the beginning of a career devoted to public “interventions”.
As with many entertainers, West comes from highly narcissistic stock—indeed, his mother died in the late 2000s from complications after cosmetic surgery carried out while she was in her 50s, so we know who the main narcissist was in the West family. As is common in many African-American homes, West’s mother was the lynchpin—his parents divorced when he was three; and his father has led a more itinerant life, being at one time a Black Panther and eventually being given a loan by his son to start his own coffee shop. In both parents you see narcissistic elements—Black Panthers, photography, and cosmetic surgery—and also political commitments. West himself has lived a relatively cosmopolitan life, being taken to China as a young child when his mother taught there on a Fulbright scholarship. West is, in fact, from America’s elite—perhaps its affirmative action boosted elite, per the Chicago appointment, but its elite nonetheless.
While Kanye’s antics are, to an extent, usual celebrity melodrama—along the lines where, say, Mariah Carey might order her hotel bedroom to be filled knee high with M&M’s and garnished with twelve identical Dalmatian puppies—he does rise above standard celebrity fare. There is something more sophisticated about Kanye’s interventions in the public realm—as you would expect from someone whose father was politically interested (itself a sign of above average IQ) and whose mother held a responsible senior position.
In part, I detect in Kanye’s antics a compensation for the fact he is not “gangsta”; he is not from the hood—he can never create convincing lyrics about crack and hoes because, well, he spent his childhood, in part, in China while his mom did her Fulbright. Further, he is, per his start as a producer, a “managerial type” at heart—he is perhaps, despite his narcissism, not a natural performer but more a manager and planner. Indeed, early on West became obsessed with the idea that he should be a fashion designer and have a clothes range, even undertaking an internship in Milan to get experience—this points to a managerial mind with an eye on his “brand”; and, indeed, he has re-branded himself as “Ye” (hear ye, hear ye)—perhaps a self-conscious nod to similar moves by Prince and Muhammad Ali.
Black Americans often rename themselves, usually to consciously escape the massah’s designated name—usually a Christian name, the master’s religion. Hence, among black Americans, Islam and Muslim names are often popular choices—Elijah Muhammad, or Muhammad Ali. It is interesting to note that in West’s case he was born with an “Africanised” name, presumably thanks to his Panther father, and yet has gone in the other direction—he has Westernised his name. He went from “Kanye” (a small village in Botswana) to “Ye”—and he chose “ye” because it is the most frequently occurring word in the Bible. So rather than an identification with Islam or a confected African identity, West has chosen to return to Christianity—even with his forename. In this respect, you should also note that he is called “West”—he is “Ye West, Bible West”, if you want to put it that way; and this cannot be unconnected to his political commitments.
West’s antics were relatively non-political until 2013, when he first made a critical comment about Jewish influence; previously, he confined himself to interventions on-stage at music awards—and he seems to have a particular problem with, particularly fancies I think, Taylor Swift. Yet, so far as it went, West’s interventions never strayed beyond standard celebrity fare—complaints about who truly deserved “Best Newcomer Video Award” and so on. From the mid-2010s onwards, West became, as the general political situation heated up, more vocally political—he had staked himself out as a Christian in the late 2000s, yet his notions in this regard began to take on quasi-delusional proportions. He began to assert that he was a bridge between Heaven and Earth—literally a pontifex or pope, though those were not the words he himself used. At one point in 2016, West was psychiatrically committed—and his behaviour has only become more erratic since then. He enjoyed an on-off relationship with Trump, made a desultory presidential bid, and eventually wore a shirt that said “White Lives Matter” and called out Black Lives Matter as nonsense.
The general drumbeat in this direction culminated in recent weeks with West’s assertions that the Jews control the music industry in particular and manipulate black people specifically—comments that have seen his financial situation fluctuate wildly, doubtless as Jewish investors, heavily involved in the popular music industry, punish the outburst. This led Ari Emmanuel to write in the FT that psychiatric illness cannot be an excuse for an anti-semitic stance—and this made me chuckle somewhat, for it immediately gave rise to images of the chief rug-biter himself, Adolf Hitler (it has been alleged that West has made positive statements about Hitler and wanted to name an album after him—however, the allegations sound like a possible attempt to blacken his name by an opportunist “former friend”). West’s return volley to Emmanuel, over Instagram, is pictured below.
I think there a few points to note about what West says here. Firstly, he is really looking for a dialogue—he wants to talk to Emmanuel. Secondarily, although he talks about slavery, “massahs”, and lynching his position is still slave-like. A really strong man does not engage in these antics, he says nothing—a free man in disagreement with another free man would not engage in this interchange, the interchange is itself degrading (it is, in fact, a one-sided rant). It highlights Nietzsche’s idea that Christianity is “slave morality” perfectly—West tries to use appeals to Christianity, to the ickle children, in a manipulative way to get Emmanuel’s engagement.
Really, West is in the subordinate position—he is like a child or a servant acting up to get attention. He tries to use crude moralised manipulation to make it work, refers to the fate of the school he founded (if you cared so much, Kanye, why did you not consider the consequences from your outburst first?). Finally, as with many people in a subordinate position, he calls on “God” and “Jesus”—this is an attempt to swap status with Emmanuel, he wants to say: “I’m higher status because I follow God and Jesus”—and West also knows Emmanuel can never affirm what he says, given that he is Jewish; so it is an automatic status score over him—yet, in a way, it is also impotent.
Ultimately, what the exchange reveals is that an entertainer—no matter how rich and popular—is not a very powerful person, nor is he really respectable; he doesn’t have real cachet, as even a black tenor at the New York Met would have, with the people who count. His petulant outburst is just another narcissistic act—the spoilt prima donna who finds things are not going his way and so stamps his feet like a child. Now, due to the subject matter, it is a bit more sophisticated than that—West has above-average intelligence, has a managerial character, and was raised with a political consciousness about the Black Panthers. So his petulant outbursts are not standard entertainment fare—they impinge on who runs the country, on power relations, and religion. This is not gangsta.
West has always liked to provoke people in quite sophisticated ways. Below is his album cover for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)—the one on the right was the actually released album cover. Now, pixelated out, it looks like a black man and a white woman having sex—without pixels it is semi-fantastical creatures. The pixelation is deliberate, it makes it look more risqué than it actually is—it is pretty provocative; and, indeed, I noticed it at the time. This is West in his typical teaser-provocateur mode—it’s all intentional, and the album itself was considered to be peculiar by usual musical standards. So West’s latest outburst is very much in line with his career as sophisticated provocateur—a troll, you could say.
In a sense, what West says about the Jews does not matter. For a start, he has been so provocative for so long he is anti-fragile—he thrives on these incidents; he might suffer in the short-term but in the long-term he will shrug it off. Further, I think black Americans get a certain—not total, West is being financially punished for this outburst—dispensation in this regard. Blacks do not run America and never will—they have had, historically, a hard time; so if they say crazy things it is to an extent humoured, like a large child’s antics, and partly tolerated—whereas similar statements from other groups would be social death. Ultimately, they are not a real threat to anyone.
West is a nigger-minstrel act; sure, we call it something else today—and yet the relation is exactly the same, “Look at those negroes and their funny dances.” Nominally, we have gone beyond all that—really it is the same, just with a different complexion put upon it. A Guardian journalist will tug their beard about the “deep, complex themes” in West’s music—yet if you showed them a proper ol’ nigger-minstrel show circa 1909 they would be horrified. Yet it is the same—funny googly eyes, sensual dances, and rhythmic lyrics (and all overseen by a Jewish impresario, just like old Tin Pan Alley itself).
Hence certain antics are tolerated by the blacks that are not tolerated among other people. The valence in West’s statements about the Jews is different than if they came from another group. If a USMC general said, in a semi-private briefing, “We have determined that the ideas popularly called ‘woke’ constitute an existential threat to the security of the United States, and that, further, these ideas are mostly promoted by media outlets owned by Jews, mostly originated by Jewish academics, and mostly supported by Jewish organisations—hence we recommend that we implement a plan called ‘Operation Clean Sweep’,” that would be another thing altogether—white Americans are pretty powerful, basically staff the nation’s military and security structure; it would be panic stations. It might seem strange to look at what I have written there, but it is no different to what USMC generals have said about, for example, Muslims and Arabs over the 2000s and 2010s. Of course, no USMC general would ever say that—over colonel, all military men are politicians committed to progressive ideology.
So West gets a certain permission to act out, yet he has been rapped on the knuckles for this latest outburst—the outburst is very much in line with the Panther ideas West’s father would have held, with particular emphasis placed in these ideas on the role Jewish finance played in support for the ships that plied the North Atlantic triangular trade. The victimology doesn’t work as some people think, as West thinks: just because you were slaves once doesn’t somehow “trump” the Jews and the holocaust—the victimology is not autonomous and just, it is mediated by power itself.
West’s mistake—the wider black nationalist mistake—is to take what amounts to politeness, a kind of willingness to show special consideration for groups with unfortunate pasts, for actual power or an actual justice system. There is no formalised “progressive stack”; if there were, it would be a proper justice system—and it certainly is not that. So there is no table that says “disabled black lesbian” beats “dyslexic holocaust survivor”—to do so would be to objectivise self-pity, a cry for mercy, and that would destroy the essence of the thing.
West was likely to fall into this trap because he is narcissistic—he only sees the social rules and nothing else; frankly, he also belongs to America’s elite, though he doesn’t see it that way and many others don’t either, and so he is spoiled. Being spoiled and having psychiatric problems he has possibly gone slightly too far this time and tripped Jewish self-defence mechanisms—sensitive because, well, they have been pogromed a lot. Actually, the Jews are right to be concerned by West’s outburst—he is followed by and influences a great many impressionable people. Further, this whole incident illustrates a phenomenon I noticed in the past five years—the holocaust’s legacy, despite endless propaganda, has worn off. People no longer feel the same taboo about criticism towards the Jews, and West’s statements reflect this fact.
There are many factors involved; in Britain, for example, there is now a huge Muslim population that sees the Jews as “the enemy”, due to Palestine, and has no compunction, no guilt complex, about labelling them as such. More pertinent, I think so much time has passed that the younger generations just feel Hitler is “unreal”—it is all too long ago; in my generation, I felt nothing about WWI but felt somehow attached to WWII, not least because my grandparents would talk about it—for the next generation, my relation to WWI extends to WWII; it is almost “not real”, or as real as Agincourt.
Hence we see statements like West’s recent outburst—and these are possible because social media facilitates almost any statement you could imagine, whereas before roughly 2005 people were still constrained and had their minds dominated by a relatively narrow media spectrum. What it portends for Jews in the United States, where they enjoy a large influence that was previously not publicly discussed due to politeness, media pressure, and the legacy of the holocaust, should concern them.
As far as West goes, I am a bit sceptical about him. Per Guénon and Evola, you should not trust people who talk about religion and have actually gone insane—West has been committed to psychiatric care, and he has become more and more erratic in his statements since then. The notion that he is a bridge between man and God is self-aggrandising and indicates narcissistic delusion; and despite his professed religiosity, the position he actually strikes with people is self-pitying—he is also prepared to use Christianity and Christ to manipulate them in conversations, not really a good sign; indeed, it is doubtful if he were sincere in his professed Christianity that he could also be a multi-millionaire rapper—not impossible, just doubtful. Further, his decision to condemn the Floyd incident and to wear a “White Lives Matter” shirt came long after these events had attracted their highest controversy—he waited until it was safe to make this intervention, not when the riots were on or when the Chauvin verdict came in.
This indicates, to my mind, opportunism—he is a narcissistic mentally ill opportunist; in other words, he is a modern celebrity. His wordplay with his name is alchemical, doubtless it grants him some insight—yet in a very uncontrolled way; and he is quite prepared to use it to his own aggrandisement—ultimately, it’s all about West, not about Jesus. Indeed, his whole “Yeezus” persona is an attempt to claim he is Jesus while at the same time he inverts the very name. In a way, he is more dangerous because the layman might think West is wholesome, whereas, in fact, he is worse than rappers like Little Nas X who use apparently “demonic” imagery in their songs—at least they don’t claim to be Jesus, arguably the ultimate impiety.
I do think West’s very name—the West—and the fact he rejects Africa in favour of “ye olde Bible” indicates his ultimate sympathy with the right; and perhaps he symbolises, particularly in his statements about the Jews, sentiments that exist in the West but cannot be expressed by Westerners (i.e. by European people)—obviously, these things work at many levels. He is not, by the way, a holy fool because he does not speak the truth—he plays a game, and that is not true foolin’. West still calculates; nevertheless, his recent statements, though expressed historically in the black community, mark a watershed in the West—with Covid-19 we went beyond the war on terror, beyond the holocaust, and into a new era. The era itself, as West’s statements show, points to political collapse in America and chthonic resurgence in the Western civilisational bloc.