The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Kanye West and Antisemitism

Nov 7, 2022

Kanye West (Ye) has been all over the news lately, cited for alleged antisemitic statements and actions. Often, the media obscures the details of what West actually said and did, under the guise of politeness and respectability. In the end many people are left wondering what it was really about and may even doubt if they’re being told the truth.

In the case of Kanye West, he carries a credit of respect in many people’s minds, which he had earned through years as a rapper who was outspoken about racism. Most famously, West spoke out shortly after Hurricane Katrina, denouncing the media’s referral to black people looking for basic necessities in Katrina’s aftermath as “looters”.

In his music, he spoke out against racist police brutality. He talked about Ronald Reagan’s attacks on the Black Panthers and society’s use of heroin and crack to keep the black population down. He spoke out against the low minimum wage and the government’s failure to address the AIDS crisis.

As a result, many people are not in such a rush to condemn West for his more recent statements and actions, especially when they aren’t given the details of what he’s done.

To be clear, Kanye West has made a series of antisemitic statements. Following an interview with Tucker Carlson on Fox News he used Instagram to suggest Jews were using control over the music industry to intimidate him, that Jewish people “toyed with him” and “tried to black ball anyone who opposes them.” On Twitter, he threatened violence, saying he would go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.”

West claims he can’t be antisemitic because black people are the original and real Jews and mainstream Jews are “fake Jews”. Even if one were to accept the notion that black people are Jews, it doesn’t mean they couldn’t be antisemitic, any more than it’s true that black people can’t be racist against black people. Some can and do. Malcolm X referred to this mentality as that of “house slaves”.

In fact, over an extended period of time, Kanye West has made it clear that he is ready to spout racist garbage about black people—to be used by the wealthy ruling class in this society. In 2018, West said slavery sounded “like a choice” in an interview. He later apologized to people offended by his remarks. In 2020, he said in an interview that George Floyd died from Fentanyl and that Derek Chauvin’s knee wasn’t even on Floyd’s neck. After pressure from the black community, West apologized for those remarks.

Antisemitism is, of course, by no means limited, nor does it have its source, in the black community. Nor are the other conspiracy theories and right-wing ideas that Kanye West has promoted. West is simply reflecting the ways in which the wealthy ruling class attempts to divide the working class and the poor and to deflect their anger away from the ruling class itself. But because of the status West has achieved, he has a podium. The stance he takes encourages others to take up these reactionary ideas themselves.

This divisive stance, repeating some of the oldest racial and ethnic slurs known to modern society, works against workers’ ability to unite their class in a fight against its real enemy, the ruling class.