Kanye West vs. Groupthink
By Grace Vuoto
Should we laugh or cry that it is currently renowned rapper and fashion designer Kanye West who is holding high the torch of free speech and free thought? He sounds almost like John Stuart Mill in his bold defense of liberty.
“You don’t have to agree with Trump but the mob can’t make me not love him,” West tweeted this week. “We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.”
Let’s ignore the incomprehensible “dragon energy” comment for a moment. Do we really still have the right to independent thought and expression in America? This is news to me and to many conservatives, Christians, traditionalists or Trump supporters who have been routinely bullied, demonized and even at times ostracized by our politically correct elite and their mindless acolytes. Many of us lament the decline of genuine toleration: the ability to disagree while also retaining respect for one another; the ability to engage in conversation of any kind without fear of losing a friendship, a job or social standing. Real tolerance is the right to think and speak without punishment. This used to be a hallmark of our democracy. No longer. There should be a sign posted next to the American flag: Disagree with Political Correctness At Your Own Risk and Peril. This is the suffocating culture progressives have created.
For sharing his support for the current president, West is experiencing a backlash by millions of his fans; they feel betrayed. For it was West who famously declared in 2005 during a televised event for the victims of Hurricane Katrina that “George Bush does not care about black people.” He was hailed as a hero for his brave words. Now, this same hero is being vilified and implored to change his mind.
Singer-songwriter John Legend beseeched him to reconsider his statements. “So many people who love you feel so betrayed right now because they know the harm that Trump’s policies cause, especially to people of color. Don’t let this be part of your legacy,” he tweeted.
Yet, West stood his ground. “I love you John and I appreciate your thoughts. You bringing up my fans or my legacy is a tactic based on fear used to manipulate my free thought,” he responded.
That is indeed an impressive rebuttal. West is asserting that what is at stake is not just the material things of this world such as public standing, fame or fortune. What is at stake is even deeper: the right to think without fear. If we give this up, we descend into an Orwellian abyss from which we may never return. Bravo West.
Contrast this to the whimpering Canadian pop star Shania Twain who does not have the courage of her own convictions. In a recent interview with The Guardian, she asserted she would have voted for Trump if she were an American citizen. But the backlash was too much for her to bear. She then apologized for not giving her response “full context.”
Her subsequent tweets should make anyone who loves freedom wince. She asserted that she is “passionately against discrimination of any kind,” does not “hold any common beliefs with the current President,” had given an “awkward” answer and does not “endorse” Trump. “My path will always be one of inclusivity, as my history shows,” she tweeted.
In other words, no dragon energy here: Twain simply cowered to the conformist mob. The truth is she would have voted for Trump. Period.
West went even further in asserting his independence from chic parlance, comparing Trump to former President Barack Obama: “Obama was in office for eight years and nothing in Chicago changed,” he tweeted.
Indeed, during the Trump presidency, black unemployment is at its lowest level since 1972 when these statistics began to be calculated: 6.9 percent in March and the record, 6.8 percent in December. Trump can also boast outstanding results for Hispanic and female unemployment rates. Hence, the supposed beneficiaries of political correctness currently fare well economically due to this president’s policies. So why is it so perilous to express support for him?
Trump’s success poses a threat to the current established orthodoxies, mouthed by leftist professors and pundits. If individuals like West continue to assert such truths out loud—and remain celebrated in their field—the groupthink of the last several decades will dissolve like ice in the desert.
-Grace Vuoto is the Communications Director of the Boston Broadside and a columnist.