Kanye West did nothing wrong when he described slavery as “a choice,” his new supporters on the alt-right say.
West, who has spent the past week tweeting praise for conservative internet figures, reached new levels of adulation on the far right after his comments during a Tuesday TMZ interview. West’s implication, that slaves were partially responsible for their condition and that black Americans need to get over slavery, plays into far-right talking points.
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years, for 400 years? That sounds like a choice,” Kanye said during the interview. “Like, you were there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all?”
He levied the comments into a metaphor about free thought. “It’s like we’re mentally in prison. I like the word ‘prison’ because slavery goes too direct to the idea of blacks.”
Later, on Twitter, West attempted to clarify. "To make myself clear. Of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will," he tweeted. "My point is for us to have stayed in that position even though the numbers were on our side means that we were mentally enslaved."
Still, 4chan and other alt-right forums rejoiced.
“This is a HUUUGE redpill, and I'm not even big on the whole Kanye thing,” one 4channer wrote.
“Redpill” is a term for converting a person to alt-right beliefs, usually that men are the real victims of sexism, or that white people are the real victims of racism.
Another 4chan user posted a picture of a farming tool, claiming slaves could have used the instrument to overthrow plantation-owners, who it should be noted had guns and the government on their side.
On less-anonymous platforms, the alt-right’s microcelebrities claimed West actually meant black people should stop talking about slavery.
“Kanye was obviously talking about black people being mired in the mindset of slavery being a choice, not that slaves 400 years ago had a choice,” InfoWars editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson tweeted. “The stupidity of normies is astounding. #IfSlaveryWasAChoice”
Scott Adams, the “Dilbert” cartoonist-turned-Trump sycophant, made a video claiming West actually talking about 400 years of discussion about slavery.
“How many of you heard Kanye say slavery was a choice? How many of you heard that?” Adams asked the camera. “That’s not what he’s trying to say. He’s talking about the talking about it. He’s saying people have been talking about slavery for 400 years. And he’s indicating that nobody in the room had ever been a slave. Now that would not be a good point if that [slavery] had been one generation ago. But there certainly is an argument, and he is making it, that being more forward looking, and you don’t want to forget your past […] but your focus should be about tomorrow, today.”
Adams has previously outlined his forward-looking vision in a novella called The Religion War which describes how, in 2040, the smartest man on earth will lead a Christian alliance into battle against a Middle Eastern caliphate, building a wall around the Muslims and “essentially kill[ing] everybody there,” Adams told a Bloomberg reporter last year. “I have to be careful, because I’m talking about something pretty close to genocide, so I’m not saying I prefer it, I’m saying I predict it.”
Adams already has West’s attention. In April, West tweeted his support for conservative figure Candace Owens whose YouTube biography reads “I prescribe red pills.” Adams responded on YouTube with a fawning video over the tweet, and West tweeted nine clips of the video.
West’s apparent swing right has made for strange new friendships. In an interview with alt-righter and accused cult leader Stefan Molyneux, Adams said he would take a meeting with West, if he called.
“If he were just a celebrity, maybe, if I had nothing else to do,” Adams said. “But he’s not just a celebrity. He is changing the world. And if I could help him, I would absolutely do it.” (Elsewhere in the video, Adams and Molyneux mulled whether they would allow literal Nazis to immigrate to the U.S., if they met all other requirements. Molyneux dodged, saying he was more worried about Marxists on college campuses.)
Other figures on right are also newly minted Kanye fans. Last week Charlie Kirk, founder of the conservative Turning Points USA posted an Instagram story in which he attempted to reference West’s 2010 song “Power.”
Kirk mangled the lyrics. Days later, he was spotted at a meeting with West and Candace Owens.