This article originally appeared in The Federalist, dated April 24th, 2018.
The famously eccentric rapper who once dined with President Donald Trump is opening up more and more about his previously cryptic political beliefs. In a batch of tweets written Saturday and Sunday after a long hiatus from Twitter, Kanye West exclaimed his support for conservative black pundit Candace Owens as well as his distaste for the slave “mentality” the political left currently embraces.
It’s practically a given that whenever a high-profile public figure publishes any whiff of conservative opinion, the Left is certain to clamor for his head (similar to West’s Twitter profile picture). But West refused to cave in or apologize for his tweets:
The Washington Post’s reporter on identity politics, Eugene Scott, worries West might be trying to grant Owens’ worldview—which includes a firm rejection of Black Lives Matter and all forms of victimization politics—validation among black voters. But he then dismisses such a goal as a “fringe” ploy, refusing to even consider the idea that ordinary black people might find an anti-collectivist, pro-individual-excellence position even somewhat attractive. Of course, West and Owens disagree.
Whatever the goal of the tweetstorm, West, who grew up in a strongly left-leaning household and whose earlier political sentiments included insisting George W. Bush didn’t care about black people, appears to have evolved politically. His embrace of Trump in early 2017 made headline news. While the whole mainstream media jeered at him, he maintained that he would have voted for Trump in 2016, had he voted.
Later, however, he deleted all of his posts about Trump and tweeted criticism of Trump’s travel ban policies. Now, West has opened up a whole new can of worms with his embrace of several conservative ideas on race, including a strong belief that, to paraphrase Owens, victim mentalities, blaming “the system” for one’s own personal failures, are far inferior especially for black Americans than victor mentalities. That’s the belief that one can control one’s destiny through one’s own actions and choices.
At least on the facts, West and Owens deserve plaudits. Black Americans have made huge inroads into society since the end of the civil rights era. Yet, despite huge increases in education achievement, income, and middle-class attainability, including a 50 percent increase in the black middle class since 1940, and despite increased optimism from the average black person in America in life satisfaction, the toothless narrative that black people today are suffering at the hands of white supremacy remains omnipresent in academia and media. West and Owens are trying to show that the pontificating ivory-tower elites who peddle this narrative have no clothes.
What is also commendable in West’s case is that a man with an extremely wide and politically varied audience held fast to his convictions and refused to let the social-justice media complex batter him into submission. Life for conservative-leaning public figures is never easy, but life for racial minorities who dare defy being labeled as a victim, and who refuse to participate in the endless procession of pitchforks against “systematic white oppression,” is even harder.
Of course, West was always a bit eccentric and is a definite outsider in the music community. But he is a true individualist both in musical taste (as his 21 Grammys explain) and in political convictions. But don’t let me tell it to you. Leave it to Kanye to have the last word: