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An American Douchebag in Paris

Kanye West (photo: Jason Persse)

Yesus fucking Christ! Kanye West is just determined to perpetually remain in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, isn’t he? Yes, he’s bipolar and clearly struggles with his mental health. Yes, he’s a provocateur and all punks know how effective that can be. But West can’t seem to open his mouth these days without diving into dangerous waters. And by ‘dangerous’ we mean dangerous on a mass social level, not just for him and his insufferable career.

There were two big events involving West this week and you probably heard about both because they caused a bit of a media frenzy. Which is understandable but also kinda what he wants. And yes, we totally get the irony of making that statement in a column that’s doing the very same thing.

Let’s be clear here: While the aforementioned mental health issues likely play their part, and we don’t want to see anyone suffering, nothing West is doing is by accident and at this point, he’s literally causing suffering. When he and his cohorts sported a “White Lives Matter” shirt at a secret presentation at Paris Fashion Week, he knew exactly what he was doing. Don’t fall for his bullshit, “I was just stating the obvious,” gaslighting. The man is well aware that the statement is a dog whistle for white supremacists, all of whom will be delighted that one of the most famous men in the world, and a Black man at that, is falling in line with their hateful agenda.

It shouldn’t need to be said at this point that while white lives obviously do matter, white people aren’t being systematically killed by those in authority. The best analogy is that making the statement is akin to asking a fire engine to douse your house when it’s not on fire, despite another house burning down on the same street. It’s bullshit and the same is true of “all lives matter.” Of course, they do but there’s a huge disparity in the level of jeopardy.

I’m preaching to the choir here, I know. idobi readers are generally going to be smart and socially conscious. But it’s worth reiterating the above in light of West’s “fashion show;” by the way the odious slogan wasn’t on some inventive item of clothing. It was on an otherwise ordinary long-sleeved tee. So, he was just being a cock.

As a white man writing this column, I’ll be honest, I’m forever shocked by black (small b) conservatives. Whether it be Justice Clarence Thomas or Ben Carson or Herschel Walker, or West’s buddy Candace Owens (who was with him in Paris and also wearing his shitty shirt) — to name a few — I just don’t get it. Yes, I know that you can’t put people in a box, and I know that people vote for different reasons, but how can you throw your voice behind a party, a movement, when it actively despises you? (For the record, I don’t understand how anybody other than white, straight, cis, able-bodied men would ever vote republican — they are the only people benefiting from that party.)

Covering Paris, UK’s Guardian wrote, “Tastemakers recoiled in horror. Jaden Smith walked out of the show. Vogue’s global fashion editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson denounced the shirts as ‘pure violence’ and West as ‘dangerous.’ The rapper Yasiin Bey, a one-time West collaborator and early believer in his music talent, posted a photo of himself on Instagram wearing a similar shirt, but with the “v” in lives faded out to read “White Lies Matter.”

Lauryn Hill (photo: Lisa Liang)

By the way, one has to wonder what musician and activist Lauryn Hill made of her daughter, model Selah Marley (also one of Bob Marley’s grandchildren), modeling the shirt for West. Is that what rebelling against your parents is nowadays? Going conservative?

“Witnessing someone break free from ‘the agenda’ sends you all into such a panic that you will do whatever it takes to force them back into the box that you feel they should exist in,” Marley posted to Instagram.

She’s missing the point there. Free thinking is to be encouraged, obviously. It’s how all great art is created but when your free thought impacts negatively on other people; when it stamps people down and restricts rights, then it’s no longer free. It’s just fucking selfish.

Diddy (photo: Richard Burdett)

West wasn’t done following his French escapades. An unlikely voice of reason regarding the shirts was rapper P. Diddy.

“I am not about to be addressing every last thing that’s going on in the world on the internet,” wrote Diddy on Instagram. “But the thing I do have to address is this “White Lives Matter” t-shirt. I have always been there and I will also support my brother Kanye as a free thinker. But the “White Lives Matter” t-shirt, I don’t rock with it. You know what I’m sayin’? I’m not with it and with the press and with [what] fashion is doing, thinking this is a joke, when, right now, all America has planned for us is poverty, incarceration, and death. So, before I can get to any other ‘Lives Matter,’ which all lives matter, you know what I’m sayin’? That Black Lives Matter, don’t play with it. Don’t wear the shirt, don’t buy the shirt, don’t play with the shirt. It’s not a joke.”

A screenshot of West’s since-deleted tweet

West was not impressed. He publicly posted a text exchange between himself and Diddy that in fact did nothing but strengthen Diddy’s argument. Then West went full nazi on Twitter (after getting his Insta account restricted):

“I’m a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I’m going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE.     The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew also    You guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda.”

That tweet has since been deleted and his Twitter account was restricted almost immediately after getting welcomed back by Elon Musk. But it’s the use of the term “death con 3” rather than the accurate “Defcon 3” that sticks out. 

Is that West being a dumbass and not knowing the correct usage? Or is it a literal death threat to Jewish people? Kinda makes you wonder, but the fact that West chose to justify his awfulness on the Tucker Carlson show speaks volumes. 

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