Kanye West makes Alex Jones look sane

A lot of people wanted to pretend that Kanye West wasn’t nuts. A lot of people wanted to convince you that Kanye West wasn’t nuts. But now it’s indisputable that Kanye West is nuts.

I presume you saw, or heard about, Kanye West’s Chernobyl-level meltdown during his appearance on the Alex Jones program yesterday, where he told the host and the audience: 

“I like Hitler,”

“I love Jewish people, but I also love Nazis.”

“I see good things about Hitler.”

“The Holocaust is not what happened.”

“Hitler has a lot of redeeming qualities.”

Oh, and also during the interview, West pretended that “a fish net and bottle of Yoo-Hoo” were past and likely future Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Watching an ongoing train wreck of a man revel in saying the most abhorrent things he could imagine is spectacularly sad, but I won’t lie: I was genuinely amused by the sight of the legendarily unhinged conspiracy theorist Jones suddenly realizing that he was the sane one in the conversation. Jones’s nervous, “I’ve studied a lot of history, plus I had family that was there, I don’t think Hitler was a good guy” is a bizarre echo of the increasingly unnerved Saturday Night Live actor Mike Myers, who was standing alongside West during a telethon for Hurricane Katrina victims when West veered off script and declared that, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Stand next to Kanye West long enough, and eventually he’ll say something you feel a need to disassociate yourself from, lest he destroy your reputation by mere proximity.

Last night, before Elon Musk declared, “I tried,” and pulled the plug on West’s Twitter account, West declared, “I stand by Balenciaga and denounce all witch hunts and I cancel cancel culture.” It is likely that at some point soon, the seemingly Satanic child-bondage fashion house Balenciaga is going to declare, “Sorry, Kanye West is just too controversial for us.”

It’s understandable if you never want to hear the words “Kanye West said” ever again. But there are at least three ramifications of West’s meltdown yesterday that we should note and remember.

First, back on October 6, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, the most-watched prime-time cable-news host in the country, looked into the camera and told his viewers that Kanye West was being unfairly smeared as insane, and that, while West could be jarring and emotional, he believed West was not crazy:

The enemies of his ideas dismissed West as they have for years — as mentally ill, too crazy to take seriously. Look away. Ignore him. He’s a mental patient. There’s nothing to see here.

But is West crazy? You can judge for yourself as you watch what we’re about to show you.

He has his own ideas. We can say that. Creative people tend to. That’s why they’re artists, not actuaries. His free-form social media post gives the impression of a man channeling his rawest emotions right onto Instagram. The effect can be jarring, and it’s often used as ammunition against him in the battle for influence over the minds of America’s young people and that battle is intense.

But crazy? That was not our conclusion. In fact, we’ve rarely heard a man speak so honestly and so movingly about what he believes. But again, you can judge for yourself.

Well, we have more than enough evidence to judge for ourselves now, don’t we?

It was later revealed that during his interview with Carlson, Kanye West said a lot of things that made him sound crazy. “I prefer my kids knew Hanukkah than Kwanzaa. At least it will come with some financial engineering.” “I have visions that God gives me, just over and over, on community building and how to build these free energy, kinetic, fully kinetic energy communities.” “We’re not building the new New York skyline cockfight. That we are humble in the way that we present ourselves. We’ve got to rethink who we are as a species.”

Carlson and his producers chose to leave those parts of the interview on the cutting-room floor.

That’s not being honest with your audience. That’s going out of your way to obscure the truth from your audience, because you want them to believe something that isn’t true: that Kanye West is just “a man speaking honestly and so movingly about what he believes.”

Second, that dinner at Mar-a-Lago with former president Trump, West, Nick Fuentes, and Milo Yiannopoulos sounds like a pit of vipers. One of the harshest things you can say about everyone at that dinner is that they all deserve each other. But we’re now left with the fact that the most recent former president invited a man to dinner who had already pledged to go “Death Con 3” on the Jews, and who subsequently went on a program and told everyone how he loved Nazis, the Holocaust didn’t happen, and Hitler had a lot of redeeming qualities.

If the accounts of the dinner are correct, the only thing that West and Fuentes said that offended Trump was the declaration that West would run for president in 2024 and that Trump should be his running mate.

Whenever you raise this sort of thing, some Trump defender will point to Jared Kushner and insist that Trump can’t be credibly accused of antisemitism because he has Jews in his close family. Indeed, it is hard to believe that Trump himself genuinely hates Jews, or that the former president believes that the Holocaust didn’t happen. But what we’ve seen, time and again, is that Trump has absolutely no problem hanging around with other people who are genuine antisemites or Holocaust deniers, as long as they praise Trump and stroke his ego. The problem with Trump is not that he buys into the evil beliefs of these repugnant hatemongers, it’s that he does not care that these repugnant hatemongers have evil beliefs and are trying to spread them. Trump still hasn’t denounced Fuentes, and he may never do so. The “I didn’t know who that guy was” excuse doesn’t get Trump off the hook. Donald Trump is okay with evil, as long as evil says nice things about him.

Third, I don’t know if we will see a rise in Nazism or antisemitism in American life because of West’s public embrace of that evil. It’s hard to believe that a significant number of Americans are neutral on or open to Naziism, and would be willing to try it because Kanye West is talking about how much he likes it.

But we are in uncharted waters here. Even if you subscribe to the philosophy of one of our old colleagues that “pop culture is filth,” or you’re used to dismissing the barely coherent ramblings of narcissistic celebrities as a toxic stew of ignorance, ill-considered taboo-breaking, deviance, and immature rebellion . . . coming out and arguing that Adolf Hitler is underrated is a new low. West has to be the most high-profile American celebrity to publicly embrace Nazis since Charles Lindbergh.

Kanye West’s career has always run on shock value — posing as Jesus on the cover of Rolling Stone, running up on stage and grabbing the microphone out of Taylor Swift’s hands, contending that Bill Cosby is innocent, contending that slavery was a choice, etc. A musical celebrity’s career runs on doing new and surprising things to stay relevant, and that professional need to shock and surprise people — and the belief that half of what West did was likely a manufactured publicity stunt — offered a lot of cover for what is indisputably serious mental illness.

The standard comment in a situation like this is that, “That guy needs some serious help,” but one of the tragic ironies of mental illness is that its effects often make those suffering from it push away those who want to help them. It’s been easy to make jokes about West’s failed marriage to Kim Kardashian, but if there’s any family in the world that has figured out how to function while choosing to live in the relentless spotlight of being celebrities, it is the Kardashians. For a while there, West was surrounded by in-laws who understood what it was like to have the paparazzi tracking your every move and to have every aspect of your life obsessively dissected on social media; if anybody could relate to his problems, it was them. And apparently, that support network wasn’t enough to make a difference.

In fact, as West drifted away from the Kardashians, he drifted more and more into a circle that seemed to want him to position himself as an outspoken ideological figure and a leader (and financier) of a MAGA-aligned political movement. And once that happened, a lot of people wanted to believe that Kanye West was sane, well, and even wise because somewhere in the middle of his outlandish diatribes, he had said something political that they agreed with and wanted to promote.

Most celebrities are progressive, liberal, on the left, or outspoken Democrats, and it’s not surprising that some conservatives hunger to have a celebrity of their own to express their views in the public square. You could argue that that was at the heart of Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency. But what’s right and what’s wrong doesn’t change based upon a celebrity endorsement; a public policy doesn’t become any more effective or ineffective if a famous person tweets about it. Celebrities aren’t any better than you and me, they’re not necessarily any smarter or wiser. In fact, they may well be dumber. Celebrity status often brings accompaniments of money, yes-men, groupies, and both physical and psychological walls from the rest of society, which likely creates a reality-distortion field that makes it harder for them to differentiate fantasy from reality.

If you did choose to pretend that Kanye West was sane, wise, and someone worth listening to, and if you averted your eyes from the increasing mountain of evidence that West is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

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