Was it a terrifying display of anti-Semitism? A PR disaster? A plot to undermine what’s left of free speech? Or something else entirely?
Mainstream media reports on Kanye “Ye” West’s three-hour interview alongside Nick Fuentes on last Thursday’s Alex Jones show—just days after West and Fuentes dined with former President Trump at Mar-a-Lago—reported it as a Nazi hatefest. Consider these headlines:
“Masked Kanye West Praises Hitler in Alex Jones Interview.” -Washington Post
“Kanye West to Alex Jones: ‘I Like Hitler.’” -Rolling Stone
“Biden Condemns Antisemitism After Ye Praises Hitler.” -CNBC
“Virulently antisemitic comments by Kanye West spark new GOP criticism.” – Politico
Mainstream conservatives lapped up the MSM headlines and declared a PR disaster. “Kanye West is a deranged antisemite. I want absolutely nothing to do with that lunatic” snarled Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY). Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-IA) called Ye’s performance “disgusting.” Zio-con journalist Ben Shapiro seemingly tried to set West up to be suicided, saying “I would not be surprised, God forbid, if something should happen—if Ye should do something to himself.”
Investigative journalist Whitney Webb also saw West’s performance as a PR disaster: “It seems like Kanye West, because of his visibility, and the outrageousness of his behavior, is going to be part of the pretext” (for eliminating what remains of free speech in America).
Elon Musk, that self-styled free speech absolutist, quickly caved in to pressure and banned Ye’s Twitter account on a transparently ludicrous pretext. Musk absurdly claimed that Ye’s tweet of an image of a superimposed Star of David and swastika was an incitement to violence.
If I had only read the media coverage, and not watched the actual interview, I would have come away with the impression that Ye had spent three hours snarling and frothing at the mouth and demanding the mass murder of Jews. But as usual, the reality was the exact opposite of the media reports. Far from spewing hate, Ye spent the whole three hours spreading love. When Alex Jones kowtowed to contemporary Western culture’s obligatory demonization of Hitler, Ye escalated from “love everybody, even Hitler” to “love everybody, especially Hitler.”
And that, of course, is the only possible Christian response. A cornerstone of Jesus’s teaching was “love your enemies.” In Matthew 5:43-45 Jesus basically says that it’s easy to love your friendly neighbor—anyone can do that—but you need to go further and love your enemies and pray for your persecutors. So when Ye expressed love for everyone, including his Zionist persecutors, and made the point that Christians must not just love “even Hitler,” they must especially love Hitler, he was simply following the teachings of Jesus.
So who exactly are these mainstream media witch hunters and lynch mob leaders who are driven into a frenzy of satanic hatred when they hear Ye spreading the Christian gospel of universal love? Hint: They are not Christians. The Jewish religion, and post-religious Jewish culture, are both characterized by a rabidly ethnocentric fear and loathing of the perceived enemies of their tribe. Rather than loving their enemies, they are taught to fear and hate and persecute them, and to demand “a pound of flesh” and never display mercy when they gain the upper hand.[*]These are of course generalizations or “truthful tropes,” and they are roughly accurate in general terms, but of course do not apply equally to all Jewish people or interpreters of Jewish religion. And since they see Hitler as their ultimate enemy symbol, anyone who extends Christian love to Hitler, as Ye did, becomes a target of their fanatical vindictiveness.
So Ye was walking in the footsteps of Jesus, not Hitler. And he was doing so in a touchingly hilarious carnivaleque manner by embodying two ancient archetypes: the truth-telling holy fool and the fool-king of carnival. You might even say Ye was just fool-king with us. (And if you doubt Ye is a fool, consider this: What else can you call someone who trades a billion dollars for truth?)
Ye as truth-telling fool echoes the Fool character in Shakespeare’s King Lear by blurting out the hard, even horrific truths that no smart, sane person would ever dare tell. This “truth-telling holy fool” archetype also exists in Moroccan Sufism, where such Sufi saints as the wild illiterate mountain peasant Abu Yi’zza, beloved of God, could get away with denouncing the tyrannical king to his face—an act reminiscent of Ye’s “foolish” denunciation of tyrannical Jewish-Zionist power in America.
But Ye has ambitions beyond being a mere garden-variety billion-dollar holy fool. He says he is running for president. But the office he is really running for is fool king.
Mikhail Bakhtin, one of the greatest Russian thinkers of the 20th century, explains in Rabelais and His World that much of the best of European literature and culture is steeped in the ethos of carnival: a holiday period during which ordinary social rules are suspended in favor of wild, anarchic, supremely creative joy and celebration. The carnival typically begins with the election of a fool king to preside over the revelry, as recounted in the famous scene of Qasimodo’s coronation in Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Ye presided over the anarchic carnival he unleashed on Alex Jones with soulfully royal aplomb. His Nettin’ Yahoo ventriloquism mocking the squeaky little prime minister of Israel was precisely the sort of thing that fools used to do to entertain their audiences. And his repeated violation of the most sacred rules of polite American society—never take the J-word in vain, speak of the Holocaust only with cringing and bathetic reverence, never raise even the slightest questions about its historicity, and always hold up Hitler as the avatar of ultimate evil—marked off the three-hour interview space as a carnivalesque world in which the mendaciously mundane values of ordinary reality could be mocked, inverted, and transcended.
So Kanye was simultaneously channeling Jesus and the fool king archetype. And that isn’t a contradiction. For the Jesus of the Gospels is a very special type of fool king. Though billed as the King of the Jews, Jesus doesn’t enter Jerusalem in a gilded chariot surrounded by the high and mighty. Instead, he rides into town on an ass, surrounded by lowborn outcasts. That decidedly un-regal entry symbolizes Jesus’s inversion of the normal values of pomp and hierarchy and the rule of the strong over the weak, in favor of humility and love.
The irony, of course, is that the Jews were waiting for a world-conquering hero, an arrogant, strutting vanquisher of the goyim. And what they got was a hippie peacenik spiritual healer riding into town on a donkey, surrounded by even scruffier followers. No wonder they rejected, insulted, and killed him,[**]Or at least imagined they killed him—but the Qur’an places that notion sous rature. and have been rejecting and insulting and killing him ever since.
So Kanye’s method-acting tribute to Jesus and the holy fool and fool king archetypes, though hilariously joyful and liberating, has put him on the Road to Calvary and laden him with a heavy cross to bear. May Allah protect and guide him, and bless him and all of the truth-telling justice-seeking saliheen.
[*] These are of course generalizations or “truthful tropes,” and they are roughly accurate in general terms, but of course do not apply equally to all Jewish people or interpreters of Jewish religion.
[**] Or at least imagined they killed him—but the Qur’an places that notion sous rature.