Kanye West’s firestorm of pro-Trump tweets highlights the danger of celebrities becoming deeply involved in politics.

Kanye West’s firestorm of pro-Trump tweets highlights the danger of celebrities becoming deeply involved in politics.

Kanye West has always been at the forefront of controversy. It seems every few years he’s in the headlines for something—spawning infamous quotes about President George W. Bush, Taylor Swift, and more.

Consistently described as one of the most influential artists of our generation, Kanye has a brand: one that millions of children and adults alike buy into and support. This brand has recently come to incorporate vigorous support for none other than President Trump.

In consecutive tweets, Kanye West not only brands himself as a Trump supporter, but claims to love him deeply, shows a photo of his signed MAGA hat, and more. Trump is Kanye’s brother, he proclaims, and they share “dragon energy”.

https://twitter.com/kanyewest/status/989227154993963009

These tweets, although bizarre, are not out of the blue. Kanye previously mentioned at a concert that he didn’t vote, but if he did, it would’ve been for Trump. A few days later, he has photographed meeting with the now the President, to “discuss education”, amongst other issues. And although Kanye hasn’t mentioned Trump much since, his history with political vocalism makes these tweets just another Kanye-ism.

But the complete danger of Kanye’s words extends further—Trump himself thanked Kanye for being “very cool,” saying that he “gets it.” But this wasn’t before Kanye began taking on Trump-tweeting mannerisms himself: the dangerous ones.

When John Legend texted Kanye West respectfully explaining his issue with Kanye’s tweets, he replied that John bringing up his fans and legacy were a “tactic based on fear used to manipulate [his] free thought.” He went on to suggest that “unpopular opinions got demonized,” to “trust your feelings [and] stop thinking so much,” and that we have “freedom of speech, but not freedom of thought.”

The words sound familiar? They reflect Trump’s rampage against fake news—the persistent rhetoric that the media, the world, the other is against you, that unpopular opinions are restricted, not morally corrupt ones. Kanye’s tweets float around the concept of criticizing PC culture, and he’s described them in an anti-establishment, rebellious nature that will particularly appeal to his young audience. No, this isn’t an issue of Kanye’s political affiliation. As Chance the Rapper’s controversial reply to the whole situation stated, “black people don’t have to be democrats”: nobody does. But when Kanye both encourages voter apathy—especially while being a representative of both a person of color and a Gen-Z influence—and calls dissenters out on policing his thoughts, he paints a moral narrative where him, and his thoughts, are victimized by the left.

Sure, Kanye is probably just “being Kanye.” He has an album dropping soon, thus an incentive to stir up controversy and bring attention to his name and social media account. Yes, Kanye’s Trump tweets come along with other tweets about loving everyone, letting go of grudges, and leaving a state of perpetual unhappiness. Perhaps, for Kanye, a multi-millionaire married to Kim Kardashian, loving everyone means forgiving Trump’s actions—not even his policies, Kanye says he doesn’t agree with those—but his criticisms of people of color and marginalized groups. Perhaps Kanye has that privilege to do so. But for those he represents, leads, and inspires, presenting Trump as anything but an undemocratic leader is dangerous.  

Grace Jin

Grace Jin is a student at Yale University. She’s a multi-time national champion in debate and is passionate about intersectional politics from the perspective of Generation Z.