Award-winning musician Kanye West continued his descent into the Trumpian abyss today by appearing on TMZ and defending his decision to come out in support of Donald Trump last week on Twitter. West doubled down on his love for the president and from there the segment quickly went off the rails.
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years?! That sounds like a choice,” West said, seemingly blaming the millions who suffered and died in the cruelest conditions for their own bondage. The claim was as offensive as it was ahistorical, and completely ignored the complex system of laws, culture, and brutal violence that kept people enslaved.
Kanye then addressed the TMZ newsroom at large, asking those gathered if they felt that he is “thinking free.” Van Lathan, a TMZ employee, stood up and said right to the musician’s face that Kanye “isn’t thinking anything.” He then unleashed a blunt, didactic tirade that left the rapper visibly uncomfortable, presumably because he’s unused to being challenged in such a fashion.
“I think what you’re doing right now is actually the absence of thought and the reason why I feel like that is because Kanye, you’re entitled to your opinion. You’re entitled to believe whatever you want,” said Van.
“But there is fact and real life, real world consequence behind everything that you jus said, and while you are making music, and being an artist, and living the life that you’ve earned by being a genius, the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives. We have to deal with the marginalization that has come from the four hundred years of slavery that you said for our people was a choice. Frankly, I’m disappointed. I’m appalled and brother, I am unbelievably hurt by the fact that you have morphed into something, to me, that’s not real.”
Kanye then walked towards Van’s desk. Van told him he has to be responsible, and Kanye apologized for hurting his feeling before the segment cut out. It’s a great clip and demonstrates exactly how misinformation, like the kind spread by Kanye in recent days, must be addressed and systematically debunked. Letting these kinds of lies and misunderstandings go unchallenged allows them to inflict real damage.
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