Rapper and antisemite Kanye West, aka Ye, went on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s show on Thursday to spew more antisemitism. This time he assertively and repeatedly praised Adolf Hitler.
This isn’t the first time West has expressed enthusiasm for the Nazis; CNN recently reported that West has a long history in private of making comments like “I love Hitler.” And West’s virulent, unrelenting antisemitism isn’t news either. He’s been palling around with white nationalist Nick Fuentes and stormed out of a friendly interview with right-wing YouTuber Tim Pool because Pool wasn’t willing to be blame Jewish people for all of Ye’s woes.
There’s not a lot more to say about Ye personally; he’s a bigot, and people who give him airtime do so knowing he’s going to say bigoted things.
What’s disturbing, though, is that the extreme antisemitism West expresses is clearly in line with the words, beliefs and actions of Republicans, Maga and the right. West is more explicit and has less power, so he’s easier to condemn. But that doesn’t mean he’s the most dangerous threat to Jewish people, or to the country.
West offered a fog of reasons for his Hitler admiration. He falsely credited Hitler with inventing the microphone and the highway (Hitler, of course, did not invent either). West also gestured at a vague reverence for human life, asserting that “Every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler.” And then West added, tellingly, “Also Hitler was born Christian.”
West has, over the last few years, increasingly identified as an evangelical Christian, testifying to his belief through his music. It’s becoming increasingly obvious, though, that the Christian message he’s spreading isn’t one of love, but of Christo-fascist dominance and control. In one recent interview after a Church service, West segues from blaming Jewish people for trying to “destroy” him to stating, “Jesus is the way and the life and the King of Israel.” He then insists that “America is a Christian country” (it isn’t) before attacking Elon Musk, new owner of Twitter, for not reinstating Alex Jones on the site. “You have a person who doesn’t believe that Christ is Lord going to buy an American media outlet and picking and choosing who can be on the platform,” Ye insists.
West’s point is clear enough. People like Alex Jones and Hitler are Christians, and therefore more valuable than atheists like Elon Musk—or, certainly, than Jewish people.
West’s Christianity and his bigotry are inseparable. And that bigotry isn’t necessarily expressed primarily in terms of hate; West repeatedly says he loves Jewish people. Rather, the bigotry is expressed in terms of entitlement.
Kate Manne has argued that misogyny is less about dehumanization and more about a belief that women owe men subservience, admiration, service and deference. Just so, West, as a Christian, believes he is more important, more American, more loving, and more worthy of authority and power, than people who are not Christian.
That core belief resonates throughout right-wing discussions of, and policies towards, Jewish people. Former President Donald Trump, who has a long history of antisemitic statements, recently crystallized his bigotry by comparing Christians and Jewish people directly. “Wonderful Evangelicals are far more appreciative of [Trump’s supposedly brilliant Israel policy] than the people of the Jewish faith, especially those living in the U.S.,” he declared on his social media platform Truth Social. “U.S. Jews have to get their act together and appreciate what they have in Israel—Before it’s too late!”
Many people have pointed out, correctly, that Trump is using the antisemitic dual loyalty trope in implying that Jewish people owe duty to Israel. Trump is also, though, expressing his sense of Christian entitlement. Evangelical Christians, Trump says, are good, appreciative, clear-eyed – deserving of praise and power. In contrast, Jewish people refuse to defer to their betters. Jewish people are getting above themselves; they aren’t appreciative. Ye’s many conspiratorial rants about how Jewish people are too powerful is really a complaing that Jewish people have any power. Jews are supposed to nod and kneel and that’s about it. They’d better learn their place—or else.
The belief that Christians should rule and everyone else should acquiesce is also the policy of our current theocratic Supreme Court supermajority. The conservative, grimly Christian court lied about the facts in a recent case of order to protect the right of Christians to bully atheists, Jews, and everyone else into public affirmations of Christian faith in schools. They also stripped pregnant people of abortion rights—a decision which allows states to impose Christian antiabortion doctrine on Jewish people and others who value the life and health of mothers.
This isn’t to say that West’s words don’t matter. As a famous musician with many admirers, West is mainstreaming hatred and contempt for Jewish people. When people like Alex Jones give West a platform, they are deliberately helping him to spread his message, and they are contributing to the rise in hate speech and hate crimes against Jewish people and other marginalized groups.
Ideally, though, we need to be able to recognize and confront antisemitism even when it isn’t quite as blatant as literally praising Hitler. The most important people in the Republican Party, including presidents and Supreme Court justices, have shown, repeatedly, that they believe Christians are entitled to Jewish deference and obedience. I’m sure they wouldn’t say it out loud. But their actions and policies are consistent with the belief, expressed by West, that Hitler’s Christianity makes him more admirable and more worthy of respect than all the non-Christian people he murdered.