Kanye West Continues Long Slide into Fascism by Wearing “White Lives Matter” Shirt

Kanye West wore a “White Lives Matter” sweater at a surprise Yeezy fashion show, Page Six reports, continuing his long and troubling flirtation with fascist politics.

The slogan was shocking, if not exactly surprising. West put the Confederate Flag on his merch in 2013. His 2018 Trump White House visit embraced the language of the men’s rights movement. One of his publicists threatened a Georgia election worker in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election on Trump’s behalf. And during his own brief 2020 presidential campaign, he combined authoritarianism and religion, suggesting that abortion was an attempt by white people to commit Black genocide, coming out in support of mandating prayer in schools, and calling vaccines “the mark of the beast.” At this point, we can’t pretend that his views are just a gimmick for attention.

“White Lives Matter” is classic propaganda, as Peter Pomerantsev discussed in his 2019 book, This Is Not Propaganda. Writing about Putin’s information tactics in the last decade, he wrote, “But every time the opposition would protest, the regime would bring in its own counter-protests. They wore the same masks and bore the same torches, matching the original protests symbol for symbols.” This is designed to confuse low-information voters — if protestors and counter-protestors all seem the same, then it’s easier to dismiss legitimate grievances.

But “White Lives Matter” goes beyond co-opting the language of “Black Lives Matter,” and should be read as an escalation over the previous counter-protest, “All Lives Matter.” Propaganda normalizes violence, and inherent in the phrase “White Lives Matter” is the suggestion that white lives are not currently valued. With this, West joins the Fox News-led conversation around “the Great Replacement,” which has directly motivated mass killings.

There are plenty of other modern artists who subscribe to many of the same ideas, from those who participated in the January 6th insurrection to the violent outbursts of Ted Nugent. But none of them command the same audience that Ye does. A better comparison might be Salvador Dalí, whose support for fascist parties alienated his fellow artists and many people in his international audience. But Ye is different than all of them, because he is a billionaire. With his resources, ideas can become policy.

That’s already happening at the Donda Academy, West’s Christian prep school. Ye mandates daily group prayer and Sunday Service, and it’s probably not a coincidence that the reading-averse founder offers enrichment classes like parkour instead of more rigorous studies. West is working to create a world where more people think like he does, and when he says things that pander to fascists, we should take him at his word.

West was joined at the event by Candace Owens, a Trump backer and hardcore nationalist who once said, “If Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, okay, fine. The problem is that he wanted — he had dreams outside of Germany.” Check out photos below.