Bad Takes: Ye's antisemitic rants are a sign of a deep sickness infecting U.S. conservatism

Christian conservatives dogmatically repeat that 'Christ is King,' but somehow, the God of the Market still gets the last word.

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click to enlarge Kanye West at the Met Gala in 2019. - Wikimedia Commons / Cosmopolitan UK
Wikimedia Commons / Cosmopolitan UK
Kanye West at the Met Gala in 2019.

Editor's Note: Bad Takes is a column of opinion and analysis.

The artist formerly known as Kayne West, now Ye, flew into Austin early this month with the notorious Christian nationalist Nicholas Fuentes. Both devout supporters of Donald Trump regaled the disgraced host of InfoWars, Alex Jones — himself an all-you-can-eat buffet of conspiracist dumbfuckery — with tales of "300 Zionists" controlling the media and "Jewish bankers" conspiring to sabotage the greatest nation on God's Earth.

It was also the most prominent utterance of Holocaust denial in recent memory.

Let's get some fact-checks of the three-hour shitshow out of the way first.

• Adolf Hitler did not "invent" microphones or highways. Both Alexander Graham Bell's sound amplifier and the German Autobahn predate Hitler's date of birth and his reign as Führer, respectively.

• There's no credible evidence Israeli agents assassinated John and Robert Kennedy to protect Israel's clandestine nuclear program. Lone gunmen Lee Harvey Oswald and Sirhan Sirhan remain the most likely culprits, and the latter is Palestinian.

• Investor George Soros didn't "happily" round up Jews for slaughter during World War II. As a 13-year-old boy, he and his family helped confiscate Jewish property to spare themselves from being sent off to the concentration camps.

• Despite Ye's talk of "Jewish slave boats," historian Herbert Klein definitively rebutted such hyperbole in the late 1990s, writing, "Jews had a minuscule role in the slave trade and played only a minor role as slave owners wherever they resided in the Americas."

• Planned Parenthood isn't "New World Order population eugenics" for "aborting Black babies." The organization provides family planning services, a small percentage of which involve terminating pregnancies.

• COVID-19 vaccines haven't "killed 20 million people." Not only do they remain remarkably safe and effective at preventing hospitalization, severe disease and death, they've saved roughly 20 million lives across the globe, according to a peer-reviewed study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

• The Nazis did in fact massacre approximately 6 million Jews. Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel, has tried to officially diarize every single victim and currently has 4,800,000 names in its online database, which anyone, including Ye, can visit.

On the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, British magazine The Economist aptly expressed the historical consensus about the human toll of Hitler's pogrom.

"Of the 9.5 million Jews in Europe before the war, 6 million were murdered," according to The Economist. "If you spent five minutes reading about each of them, it would fill every waking hour for 90 years. The overall civilian death toll attributed to the Nazis — including Romani, disabled people, gays, prisoners and bystanders to combat — was perhaps three times greater."

The testimony of hundreds of thousands of living survivors is irrefutable. 

Willfully ignorant of the massive archival and genealogical work in documenting the Shoah, Ye told Jones, Hitler "didn't kill 6 million Jews, that's just factually incorrect." Later, he upped the asinine ante, adding, "I like Hitler, I'm not trying to be shocking. The Holocaust is not what happened."

The Republican Jewish Council appropriately condemned the broadcast as "a horrific cesspool of dangerous, bigoted Jew hatred." 

Although leading GOP figures fell all over each other to distance themselves from Ye's recent tour of interviews, which included a sit-down with the Donald himself at Mar-A-Lago in November, Ye nevertheless embodies the bipolarity of the modern American conservative. He dutifully professes a ride-or-die loyalty to capitalism and quasi-canonizes billionaires such as Steve Jobs and Howard Hughes, recounting their rags-to-riches stories as he would Biblical scripture.

At the same time, the rapper condemns all the sinful decadence that unregulated markets stimulate, enable and unleash. "Instagram is a prostitution ring," Ye told Alex Jones. Before anything else, though, Instagram is a business which, like Ye, runs on attention.

Christian nationalists such as Fuentes rail against "the globalists" — which we have every right to assume is a coded allusion to "the Jews." But notice also that Fuentes seldom mentions for-profit competition itself as the mechanism that creates multinational monopolies and erodes national sovereignty.

This contradiction between market fundamentalism and moral rectitude neatly sums up the rift between libertarians and evangelicals, and even though the Republican Party desperately must hang onto both constituencies, the battle rages within the disordered minds of individual right-wingers as well.

Christian conservatives dogmatically repeat that "Christ is King," but somehow, the God of the Market still gets the last word. Alex Jones, for example, is quite content to smile along politely as Ye praises Hitler's "redeeming qualities," provided Jones can hawk his line of dietary supplements during the commercial breaks. 

Seated between Ye and Fuentes, Jones might come off as the adult in the room. However, equating reproductive choice and life-saving vaccines to Josef Mengele's crimes against humanity is its own egregious form of genocide trivialization and denial.

Jones' deference to Ye was sickening, but so is the attention we're obliged to pay talented rap producers and basketball players these days. To state the obvious, just because somebody hits the celebrity jackpot doesn't make them a genius, or even a terribly good person. Perhaps Ye's biggest whopper was to declare, "I represent the common man." The typical antisemite, handing out leaflets on the street corner or spray-painting swastikas on overpasses, doesn't get to appear with Tucker Carlson during primetime or hold strategy sessions with former presidents. 

"We've got to stop dissing the Nazis all the time," Ye said. Except, we don't. Opposition to fascism is the moral compass by which citizens across the political spectrum have charted the precarious course of democratic societies since the end of the last world war. If we can't acknowledge the worst crime in history, what can we hope to agree on?

Whether Ye mainstreams the fetishization of Hitler, it's safe to say Hitler would not have reciprocated the sentiment. And without Blacks and Jews showing up at the ballot box, the United States would likely already have become an authoritarian state run by racists like George Wallace, Donald Trump or worse.

All of us owe an unpayable debt in this respect. One we should never forget.

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