Rapper, designer, and, for some, prophet-figure, Kanye West, AKA Ye, has had his account suspended on Twitter for posting anti-Semitic comments.
The unhinged take was posted on Saturday night following a return to the platform after a multi-year absence. Elon Musk, the new owner of the social media site, personally welcomed Kanye back to Twitter after his account on Instagram was also suspended.
Ye wasted no time in continuing in the antics that got him barred from Insta, writing some truly disturbing thoughts on his page.
“I’m a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I’m going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE,” he wrote in a now-deleted tweet.
“The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew also You guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda.”
“Death con” is likely a play on the US military term DEFCON, meaning ‘Defence Ready Condition’, which is an alert system used to gauge threat levels and is often used to indicate a high-level military response to a threat. Effectively, it’s a death threat he’s using.
Twitter removed the tweets after an hour, although not before they received tens of thousands of engagements. Kanye appeared to blame “Jewish people” for his Instagram suspension as the post that got him kicked off of that site was an alleged exchange between himself and Diddy in which he used anti-Semitic language.
Kanye then took aim at Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, posting a picture to his Twitter account of the pair appearing to do karaoke together and asking “how you gone kick me off Instagram.”
He also tweeted, in a post that is still up at the time of writing, “who do you think created cancel culture?”, again implying that Jewish people are somehow behind his social media restrictions.
Who you think created cancel culture?
— ye (@kanyewest) October 9, 2022
Kanye’s claim that he was blacklisted for opposing the “agenda” of Jewish people taps into a long-held, anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that claims Jewish people somehow have control over systems of finance and information and use it to shape public discourse and social structure. It’s one that was promoted by far-right political groups in Europe in the early 1900s and was instrumental in justifying Nazi atrocities against Jewish people in the Second World War.
The ‘Stronger’ rapper has often been called out for his controversial actions and opinions. Notably, he supported Donald Trump in the 2016 US Election and claimed at the time that Black people in the US were complicit in their own enslavement during the 19th century.
Following his split with ex-wife Kim Kardashian, Kanye’s behaviour has appeared to become even more erratic. He recently wore a hoodie at Paris Fashion Week that read ‘White Lives Matter’ and has consistently posted screenshots of personal conversations with his ex-wife on social media. He has also announced his plans to run (again) for President in the 2024 US Election.
That Kanye West has bipolar disorder is a matter of public record after he was hospitalised during a psychiatric emergency in 2016. Ye has previously been open about his diagnosis, something that was used to abuse him during his very public separation with Kardashian earlier this year.
Commentators at the time noted that both the disorder and the way that we discuss Kanye is “complicated.” Journalist Kiana Fitzgerald, herself diagonised with the condition, has written that understanding that people do and say things they later regret is the lens we need to view Kanye’s mania through.
Erica Schwiegershausen, another journalist with bipolar disorder, has said that Kanye’s “imperfections” are “magnified and exaggerated by an illness associated with impulsivity and impaired judgment”.
Both the above writers were talking in response to Kanye’s behaviour in March of this year when he was publically sharing details of his divorce. The latest outbursts seem far more sinister however and evoke less understanding.
Matt Bernstein, queer influencer of Jewish heritage, weighed into the recent controversy from Kanye by saying “I’m sorry for what he’s going through, but it’s not an excuse for his behaviour — and to pretend otherwise is an insult to anyone with mental illness”.
Bernstein pointed out that having a mental illness does not “generally lead people” to threaten violence against women and Jews.
Approaching anyone and everyone with empathy and understanding is a baseline we should all aspire to. On the other hand, when those people do or say abborhent things, we shouldn’t shy away from calling them out.
Kanye should not be vilified for his condition but his actions push the limits of understanding, forcing us to draw lines over what we will and won’t tolerate. It seems that this time he may really have gone too far.