Kanye’s fall from grace hit its nadir on Thursday during a stranger-than-fiction interview he did on InfoWars with far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Ye said, and this is a direct quote, “I like Hitler.”
“I like Hitler,” Ye expounded. “The Holocaust is not what happened. Let’s look at the facts of that. Hitler has a lot of redeeming qualities.”
Kanye ‘Ye’ West: “I like Hitler. … I’m not trying to be shocking, I like Hitler. The Holocaust is not what happened, let’s look at the facts of that and Hitler has a lot of redeeming qualities.” pic.twitter.com/UwCu2ZJfid
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) December 1, 2022
It somehow got even stranger.
“[Nazis] did good things, too,” Ye went on to say later in the interview. “We’ve got to stop dissing the Nazis all the time. The Jewish media has made us feel like the Nazis and Hitler have never offered anything of value to the world.”
In case there was any shred of doubt left as to Ye’s intent, he followed up the interview by tweeting out a literal swastika. (Yes, seriously. You can’t make this stuff up.)
For tweeting the swastika, Ye was subsequently booted off of Twitter by Elon Musk. But I think this was a mistake. Musk should have ensured the tweet with the swastika was taken down for violating Twitter’s Terms of Service. But banning Kanye misses how crucial letting him have his say has been to the resounding repudiation of his hate speech we’ve seen across all sectors of the public square.
Ye’s rants are, of course, horrifying, factually untrue, and hateful. But it still doesn’t vindicate proponents of “cancel culture” who have called for Kanye to be de-platformed. The opposite: It actually shows why free speech works.
By interviewing Kanye and giving his terrible ideas an audience, hosts like Tim Pool and even Alex Jones have given Ye the opportunity to immolate his own career and credibility. Now, after he’s gone so far as to literally praise the Nazis and Hitler, almost nobody will continue to take Ye seriously. And any future political career he may have had is almost certainly dead-on-arrival.
A few weeks ago, when the extent of his antisemitism was still more subtle and less open, countless fans and followers were still taking Ye seriously, meaning his ideas were much more dangerous. But if he had been “deplatformed” like critics called for, his public deterioration would’ve been frozen in its pre-total-implosion state. It also might have vindicated his conspiratorial claims that the powers that be are out to get him, at least, in the minds of those keen to believe such things.
Meanwhile, actually engaging with Ye’s arguments in the marketplace of ideas has quickly allowed the public to see how terrible and empty they are. The saga serves as an important reminder that when it comes to hateful speech, sunlight, not suppression, is the best remedy.
Or, as Supreme Court Justice Louise Brandeis famously put it, “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”
We can’t make antisemitism, hate, and conspiracies disappear by ignoring them or attempting to silence their proponents. But we can defeat them by ridiculing and debunking them in the public square. As Professor Wilfred Reilly put it, “Kanye West saying his gibberish and getting shut down by the entire Internet is a great illustration of why free speech is good, actually.”
After the last week, Kanye West is left looking like a delusional lunatic in desperate need of psychiatric care. His antisemitic ramblings can no longer be explained away as misunderstood arguments or politically incorrect truth-telling.
Kanye West only has himself to blame for the implosion of his career and life. Ironically, his racist implosion represents a win for tolerance at the end of the day, and for that, we have free speech to thank.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.