Kanye West Is Dragging Far-Right Figures Into the Mainstream

Numerous far-right figures are clambering to gain access to the disgraced rapper, whose antisemitism and celebrity could raise their profile.
​Ye, the rapper who changed his name from Kanye West, seen in a 2020 file photo.
Ye, the rapper who changed his name from Kanye West, seen in a 2020 file photo. PA Photos Limited via The Canadian Press.

As Ye’s life—and embrace of Hitler—continues to spiral out of control, attention-hungry bigots are attaching themselves to the disgraced rapper like racist little remoras on a shark drifting toward the bottom of the Mariana Trench. 

Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West, is no stranger to craven political opportunists trying to exploit him (and his mental illness) for their gain, but the latest members of his entourage are particularly worrisome. These far-right personalities are now being exposed to attention at heights never before available to them and are using Ye’s celebrity status to push their hateful views and profiles into the mainstream under the guise of “free speech.”

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And they’ve seen some initial success.  

One of the them is 24-year-old white nationalist podcaster, Nicholas Fuentes. If that name sounds familiar, it’s likely thanks to a stunt late last month, when Ye brought Fuentes with him to a previously scheduled dinner at Mar-a-Lago with former President Donald Trump. This kicked off a shambolic tour of appearances with or beside right-wing figures for Ye, which featured antisemitism as a throughline. 

Fuentes, along with almost-forgotten professional troll Milo Yiannopoulos, who briefly ran Ye’s 2024 presidential campaign, traveled with Ye on his private jet from Los Angeles to Maryland after the Trump meeting. There, Ye participated in Tim Pool’s podcast and stormed out of after some mild pushback on his anti-Jewish comments.  

Then Fuentes and Ye appeared on Alex Jones’ show on Infowars for an hours-long orgy of unbridled antisemitism. At one point, Ye simply said “I love the Nazis.” They were joined at points by “Stop the Steal” conspiracy theorist Ali Alexander, Infowars host Owen Shroyer, and far-right activist Laura Loomer. (She called in.)

Then, there was Ye’s feud with Elon Musk, which led to the rapper’s Twitter being suspended,  his far-right entourage getting into a food fight at a restaurant, and Ye reportedly parting ways with ​​​​Yiannopoulos. At the heart of the supposed presidential campaign is an eternal jockeying for power over Ye’s influence, one person familiar with the inner workings told the Daily Beast, “It’s like Game of Thrones, and every day is the Red Wedding.” 

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It’s clear that Ye’s profile—he has been among the most famous people on the planet for much of this century—presented a unique opportunity for the far-right. Now other trolls and far-right figures popular during Trump’s presidency are clamoring to hop on the bandwagon.  

Fuentes (who has, in the past, denied the Holocaust and routinely attacks minorities) set his sights on Ye in early October, after the rapper—joined by far-right commentator Candace Owens—debuted a new Yeezy line at Paris Fashion Week which included shirts emblazoned with the slogan “White Lives Matter.” Despite an intense backlash, Ye refused to apologize. A week later, he shared a cryptic antisemitic post on Twitter, which resulted in his suspension from the platform. (Musk had yet to take control.) Then he went on Drink Champs, a popular hip-hop podcast, to spew antisemitic conspiracy theories.  

The Drink Champs interview was shared widely and breathlessly across 4chan and other online, far-right communities. Fuentes urged his followers, who are known as “groypers,” to flood the video’s comment section with support. “We need to make Ye x Fuentes collab happen at this point,” Fuentes thirsted on Telegram. 

And collab Ye did. In doing so, he elevated these figures from the sewer to the penthouse. Ye announcing his love for Hitler and distaste for Jews drew widespread condemnation from the majority of the mainstream right, but some, like popular podcast host Stephen Crowder, were still willing to explain away even some of Ye’s worst comments.  

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“I don’t think he hates Jewish people. I think he’s been wronged,” Crowder said on his podcast on Dec. 1. “And he’s aiming a howitzer, he’s being imprecise. He’s not wrong about everything.” 

If Ye had not directly praised Hitler and Nazis, the line of those defending him would almost certainly be much longer. Caroline Orr, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Maryland studying misinformation, has tracked far-right figures, such as Fuentes, and their networks for years, She explained to VICE News why the far-right is so attracted to Ye. 

“Anything he does is going to get some degree of attention. He goes for dinner and someone will report on it. It comes back to brand-building attention cycles, controlling the attention economy,” said Orr. “I think that Kanye’s been pretty good at doing that himself, and I think they probably recognize that.” 

Research has long shown the dangers of amplification in the extremism space, and it’s something that many researchers and journalists often struggle with. But the best practices were not built for when extremists are attached to an internationally renowned celebrity amid a lengthy and incredibly public mental breakdown 

Following the dinner with Trump, interest in Fuentes hit an all-time high, with widespread coverage of the event. And while late-night shows played clips making fun of him, there’s no doubt he’s enjoying the boost in his profile. 

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Megan Squire, a senior fellow for data analytics at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told VICE News that traffic to Fuentes’ website and streaming sites has unsurprisingly increased during his time in the spotlight. 

“Fuentes is one of those people that believes that all publicity is good publicity. The negative attention, or any kind of attention, I'm sure made him extremely happy,” Squire said. “The rest of us now have to deal with the fallout.”

Google searches for “Fuentes” are over 50 times higher than they were at this time last month. Likewise, the searches for “Milo Yiannopoulos,” which were pretty much non-existent last month, have skyrocketed. On Telegram, he gained thousands of followers, and the traffic to his websites went up as well. However, it may not be all sunshine and rainbows for Ye’s new entourage.  

"His (Fuentes) Google Trends were up,” said Squire. “But he has yet to translate that into followers, money, or traffic. It's just people like looking at him, and then there are no results in that. And that's actually a good thing."

Antisemitism has been on a consistent rise for years. According to the Anti-Defmation League, antisemitic attacks and harrasment is on a five-year upswing, setting a new annual record for most antisemitic incidents in the United States in 2021. Ye’s mainstreaming and massive amplification of antisemetic social media figures (as well as Musk replatforming far-right personalities at the same time on Twitter) is just throwing fuel on the fire. Ye even got a response from President Joe Biden. 

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"I just want to make a few things clear: The Holocaust happened. Hitler was a demonic figure. And instead of giving it a platform, our political leaders should be calling out and rejecting antisemitism wherever it hides,” Biden tweeted on Friday. “Silence is complicity,"

On 4Chan, Telegram, and in many chats featuring Fuentes and Ye, the celebration of the far-right is palpable, a few at the extreme fringe of the community even think that Ye could push Fuentes even further to the right.

While Fuentes is openly racist, he typically refrains from supporting Hitler or neo-Nazism, which would have made him toxic to even the most far-right members of the conservative political mainstream he was courting. But his time with Ye has some neo-Nazis wondering if Fuentes was being radicalized further. 

“Will Ye finally red pill Nick Fuentes on National Socialism?” one neo-Nazi asked in a popular Telegram channel. “One of the great ironies of the decade is that it took a Black celebrity rapper to bring Fuentes to our point of view.”

So, it could still get worse. 

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