I Miss the Old Kanye

Jeremiah Barron, Around School Editor

On the morning of October 8th, the Twitter world was shocked by an antisemitic tweet posted by Kanye West. In it, the 45-year-old rapper wrote: “I am going def con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.” The tweet, one of several in a recent spur of antisemitism from West, was promptly removed and he was suspended from Twitter just a week after being locked out of Instagram for the same reason. West has since lost his brand deal with Adidas, cutting his net worth by $1.5 billion, according to Forbes. Some loyal fans have defended the artist, while others have called for the removal of his music from streaming services. So who is right? How should people balance the art with the artist? 

Removing [West’s] platform on social media is the most effective step in tearing down his harmful rhetoric.

West’s art can still be appealing, but his political language is undoubtedly dangerous. Since early October, several far-right neo-Nazi organizations have supported his sentiment. One such group hung a banner from a Los Angeles overpass reading, “Kanye is right about the Jews.” His actions have also prompted other celebrities to resonate similar messages. Kyrie Irving, a current Brooklyn Net, retweeted a movie that explicitly denied the Holocaust. When asked if he was antisemitic, Irving refused to give a straight answer, saying that he was “tired” of such questions. Since then, the starting point guard has been suspended by the Nets organization. Other players, united by the NBA Players Association, have voiced their support for Irving, saying the Nets’ actions were an overstep. Similarly, some fans of Irving feel his actions on social media did not warrant such a response. 

However, despite the spreading effects of West’s comments, we can still appreciate and consume his music. The unfortunate reality is defenders of Kanye have believed this rhetoric well before he went down this hole. The neo-Nazis in LA do not need Kanye West to reinforce their beliefs. Kanye does not spread his hate through his music; he spreads it through social media. The wrath West is facing is important, then. Instagram and Twitter’s punishments are more than enough to reduce his outreach and discourage similar actions in the future. Adidas and the Brooklyn Nets taking swift action against their antisemitic affiliates will also prevent other celebrities from wishing to use their platform to spread hate. 

An artist as prevalent as Kanye will always maintain some amount of influence. Removing his platform on social media is the most effective step in tearing down his harmful rhetoric. If West makes similar comments in the future, social media sites must remove him. It is also the responsibility of Kanye fans to denounce his statements. Even lighthearted jokes that have spread throughout the internet are a problem. Although these are simply jokes, they have enabled Kanye to remain unpunished for his problematic speech for years. While West has created some of the most influential music of this generation, we must not allow his words to become as impactful. 

This article also appears in our November 2022 print edition.