The far-right is circling Kanye West to co-opt him as their patron saint of “bigotry equals free speech,” as the rapper slides deeper into public disgrace for unapologetically spewing antisemitic conspiracies. And West, who’s been locked out of his Instagram and Twitter accounts for anti-Jewish bigotry, appears to now be building a home for the canceled, deplatformed masses: He’s buying Parler, the fringe social media site popular with the far-right.
“I want to get into the Kanye thing,” prominent white nationalist Nick Fuentes said during a breathless livestream last week. “It’s just so awesome. Neutron bomb-like level of based, red-pilled.”
Over the weekend, the 45-year-old rapper went on Drink Champs, a popular podcast in the hip-hop community, and peddled antisemitic conspiracies about “Zionist Jews” controlling the media. He talked about showing up to Paris Fashion Week earlier this month wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “White Lives Matter”, accompanied by far-right commentator Candace Owens. “The Jewish media were pushing the narrative off the White Lives Matter T-shirt that I didn’t love Black people,” West, aka Ye, said. “And I came back and was like ‘no, fuck the Jewish media.’ And everyone was like, ‘What?’” He also claimed that the media and liberals have exploited “Black trauma” as a way to censor the “white voice.”
During his freewheeling interview on Drink Champs, West also platformed a popular far-right talking point, incorrectly claiming that George Floyd’s cause of death was from a fentanyl overdose and that the media lied about the fact he was murdered by a white cop. West said he learned this from watching Owens’ documentary, The Greatest Lie Ever Sold: George Floyd and the Rise of BLM. He attended the premiere of the documentary in Nashville last week.
The interview was shared and celebrated widely on far-right platforms like 4chan’s /pol section, Gab, and far-right influencers’ Telegram channels. “Kanye save the WEST,” one person wrote on 4chan, praising him as the most vocal antisemite “since Charles Lindbergh and Henry Ford.”
On Monday morning, newswires reported that Ye was in the process of buying Parler, which received heavy scrutiny for being a hub of election conspiracies ahead of the Capitol riot but since faded in popularity on the far-right, having been eclipsed by other platforms like Donald Trump’s TruthSocial, Gettr, Telegram, and Gab. West's acquisition of Parler, according to a statement from Parler on PR NewsWire, is intended as a “bold stance against his recent censorship from Big Tech, using his far-reaching talents to further lead the fight to create a truly non-cancelable environment.” This move also may reflect Owens’ growing influence on Ye: her husband, George Farmer, is Parler’s CEO.
As West doubles and triples down on his antisemitism, his far-right fanbase grows louder, more excited—and more emboldened in their own bigotry.
“Now Jews have to make the tough decision of taking down the most famous Black man in America's interview exposing Jewish power or leave it up on youtube as damage control. If they take it down, they only prove him right,” Eric Striker, a far-right propagandist who marched in Charlottesville in 2017, wrote on Telegram to his 16,000 followers after the Drink Champs interview.
“Kanye West is 100% right and has my full support,” Striker continued. “He is calling for celebrities and politicians to come out and talk about Jews in public like they do in private.”
Fuentes and other “influencers” in the far-right appear thirsty to co-opt West into their movement.
“We need to make Ye x Fuentes collab happen at this point,” Fuentes wrote on his Telegram channel on Saturday night. As the interview on Drink Champs was streaming live on YouTube, Fuentes acolytes, known as “groypers,” swarmed the chat, repeatedly posting “NICK FUENTES X YE.”
Far-right media personality Anthime Joseph Gionet, aka Baked Alaska, who is also a Fuentes ally, has been cheering Ye loudly. “FUCK THE JEWISH MEDIA” he wrote on Telegram, and continued to share clips from the Drink Champs interview, including one nine-second clip where West shouted into the microphone “Jewiiiiiishhhh.” On Monday, Gionet posted that he’d just joined Parler, following the news that West was in the process of acquiring the platform.
Jon Miller, who is one of the few Black men in Fuentes’ circle, posted a photo of a chalk message on the pavement on Sunday. “Kanye is right,” he wrote. “Def-Con III.”
Miller was referencing West’s widely condemned Oct. 8 tweet where he vowed to go “def con 3 on Jewish people,” adding, “you guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda.” West also accused producer Sean Combs aka Diddy of being “controlled” by Jewish people in a post on Instagram. His accounts on both platforms have since been locked, fueling cries of “censorship” and “cancel culture” from his fans on the far-right.
West was later invited onto Fox News’ Tucker Carlson program to unpack the controversy. Motherboard obtained unaired footage from the interview that showed West making several bizarre, bigoted statements about Jewish people. An ex-TMZ staffer has since come out to claim that West praised Hitler and Nazis in an interview in 2018, but those remarks were ultimately edited out.
George Floyd’s family is considering taking legal action against West for spreading “false statements about the manner of his death, ”according to a statement on Twitter by civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt on behalf of the family following the interview on Drink Champs.
West’s recent remarks have also been condemned by the Black and Jewish communities, as well as organizations that research hate, such as the Anti-Defamation League.
Last week, the Black Jewish Entertainment Community called West’s comments “hurtful, offensive, and wrong,” because they “perpetuate stereotypes that have been the basis for discrimination and violence against Jews for thousands of years.” The bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish relations also put out a statement condemning West’s “antisemitic and dangerous remarks.”
Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.