Kanye West (who has legally changed his name to Ye) has been making headlines—again—not only for his bizarre public behavior, but for blatantly antisemitic remarks he made in recent interviews.
There’s no question that Ye’s comments praising Hitler and Nazis and denying that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust are hurtful and dangerous. There’s no question that bad actors are using Ye’s antisemitic comments to push their white nationalist agenda. The question is whether Ye fans would allow their admiration of his musical talents—or whatever else they like about him—to overshadow the fact that he is now regularly spewing pro-Nazi rhetoric to millions of people.
In at least one corner of the internet, fans are responding in what may be the most effective and meaningful way possible—by countering Ye’s commentary with a deluge of Holocaust education and remembrance.
Reddit’s r/kanye subreddit is a page dedicated to discussing all things Ye, and it currently has more than 700,000 members. After Ye’s interviews on Tim Pool’s podcast and Alex Jones’ Infowars this past week, in which he spoke of loving Hitler and Nazis while complaining of being wronged by Jews, members began flooding the forum with posts about people who fought the Nazis in World War II, information about the victims of the Holocaust and remembrances of those who were murdered in the genocide.
It was a heartening response to Ye’s horrific views, and especially powerful coming from people who consider (or considered) themselves huge fans of the artist.
One example is this post of a photo showing emaciated prisoners of Buchenwald concentration camp with a quote from Ye’s Infowars appearance, in which he said, “I don’t like the word ‘evil’ next to Nazis.”
Another poster shared a photo of three survivors of Auschwitz, the largest Nazi death camp, showing the tattoos of their prison camp numbers on their forearms.
Another shared a photo of the “Book of Names” at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where the names of those murdered in the Holocaust are written.
Dozens of posts shared in the subreddit include photos of Jewish children who had their childhoods destroyed, people who suffered in concentration camps, heroes of the Holocaust who helped saved lives and more. Judging from the posts and comments, there appears to be widespread agreement on the subreddit that Ye’s antisemitism must be condemned in the strongest terms and that people need to know that his statements about the Holocaust are wrong.
“This is officially a Holocaust awareness sub,” wrote one poster who shared an infographic about how many young people are woefully uninformed about that piece of human history.
The transformation of the subreddit is a testament to the power of social media. Though misinformation spreads fast and social media can easily become a cesspool of toxicity, when people use it for good it can be a place where reasonable, righteous voices rise to the top.
It’s certainly sad and frustrating for folks who have felt a connection with Ye’s music to witness him spiraling further and further into bigoted madness. Feeling the need to speak out against someone who has been a positive force in your life isn’t a comfortable spot to be in. But there are views that are unconscionable and messages that simply cannot be tolerated, and Ye’s remarks egregiously cross both of those lines.
Fandom doesn’t mean fanaticism and no reasonable person can possibly defend the antisemitism Ye is pushing. (Heck, some of the most unreasonable people aren’t even trying to defend it.) Whatever his mental health situation may be, attacking Jews and supporting Nazis is wrong and harmful and needs to be named as such.
Simply calling it out isn’t enough, though, when falsehoods flow freely. Sharing accurate education about the Holocaust so that people can gain a deeper understanding of the scale and systemization of the world’s largest genocide is one way to not just call out antisemitism but to battle it with truth. The Holocaust carried out by Hitler and the Nazis is a historical reality no one should remain ignorant of and no one should get a pass for denying, no matter how famous or once beloved they may be.