Icon turned political pawn

Jake Mireles, Assistant Opinion Editor

In recent weeks, controversy has surrounded the songwriter, fashion designer and former billionaire Ye — formerly known as Kanye West — over his heinous claims across many forms of media about the Jewish and Black communities. He has lost considerable wealth and social capital over his obscene crusade, and people are suffering because of it. 

West has made many statements about the Jewish community on multiple news broadcasts and podcasts and social media like Twitter. Since claiming that he is “going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE” in a now-deleted tweet, West has further doubled down with his antisemitic rhetoric. During his interview with Chris Cuomo on the NewsNation broadcast, West claimed that he was being persecuted and silenced by the “Jewish underground media mafia,” a stance he has consistently made during multiple media appearances, per a report compiled by the Anti-Defamation League. West has also claimed that the doctor that diagnosed him with bipolar-disorder and prescribed him medication for the said disorder was also a part of the alleged conspiracy, according to the Jerusalem Times. Additionally, during his interview with Lex Fridman, West took his usual antisemitic approach; however, when Jewish interviewer Lex Fridman pleaded with West on multiple occasions to single out the individuals who have wronged him, in place of attacking the Jewish people as a group, West adamantly refused. This is the nail in the coffin for West’s hope to be seen as anything else than an echo of a very painful and hateful past. 

Due to his antisemitic remarks, West has caused his music and fashion empire to crumble in a matter of days, and rightfully so. West has reportedly lost deals with Adidas — which accounted for approximately $1.5 billion of his net worth — Balenciaga, GAP and was even escorted out of the Skechers corporate headquarters — a Jewish owned corporation — after arriving unannounced. Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald and Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown have also cut ties with West after his remarks, spelling probable economic doom for Donda Sports — West’s sports marketing agency — according to coverage from The New York Times. In addition to this, America has seen a noticeable wave of antisemitic actions and advertisements. According to an article by Spectrum 1 News, Southern California has seen several antisemitic displays. This includes a group of individuals gathering on a San Diego overpass displaying banners that read “HONK IF YOU KNOW KANYE IS RIGHT ABOUT THE JEWS,” and other antisemitic banners while giving Nazi salutes to the horror of passing commuters. Bags of antisemitic leaflets were also found in the neighborhoods of Beverly Hills, Westwood and Bel Air. In a matter of weeks, West has destroyed his empire and decimated his net worth but has caused extensive damage to something much more crucial; the stigma around antisemitic rhetoric. 

In addition to these statements, West has also continued his harassment of the African American community, building off of his claim that their enslavement was “a choice.” One of the other inciting incidents of his controversy was when West sported a “White Lives Matter” t-shirt at Paris Fashion Week while accompanied by conservative commentator and employee of The Daily Wire, Candace Owens. This is not West’s first time profiting off of white supremacist imagery. According to The Atlantic, West sold merchandise displaying the Confederate Flag during a tour in 2013. Additionally, during his appearance on the “Drink Champs” podcast, West falsely claimed that the death of George Floyd — which sparked massive amounts of protests and outrage in the summer of 2020 — was caused by a fentanyl overdose, and not by the malpractice of the Minneapolis Police Department — a popular white supremacist talking point — according to the New York Times. For justification of the statement, West referred to a “documentary” produced by Candace Owens, of which the death of George Floyd was the subject. These statements have caused Floyd’s family to sue West for $250 million. 

Kanye West has been credited as one of the most influential figures in the modern music industry, whose career has been rife with semantics and controversy often embraced by his cult following. His popularization of antisemitic and anti-Black rhetoric is volatile and has the potential to cause a great deal of pain and suffering to marginalized communities who have already endured too much. West’s sheer amount of influence over his large fanbase has the opportunity to grow these hate movements in America, all over his narcissistic desire for attention and fame. He should be rejected, ignored, denounced and deplatformed before more individuals are harmed by his dog whistle call to action.