Letter to the editor: Praise of Kanye West is concerning

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018 2:47AM

Praise of Kayne West is concerning

To the editor:

I read an interesting, I might even say curious, letter in a recent issue about Kanye West and his love for Donald Trump. The writer tells us that “until recently ” (he) “didn’t know much about Kanye West” whom he describes as a “young, black rapper and cultural superstar who has a huge following.” Well, in this age of octo-, nona- and centenarians, I guess Kanye, who is 40, is still “young.” Otherwise I don’t know much about Kanye West either. Oh, I do know that he is married to a Kardashian but I don’t know what a Kardashian is except that all the Kardashians are famous for being famous and have a net worth around $122 million. So maybe that explains Kanye’s attraction to the billionaire in the White House; Trump would probably welcome him to Mar-a-Lago.

The writer evidently knows Mr. West well enough to say confidently that his love for the president is evidence that “Kanye West thinks for himself.” Maybe so, but he is on pretty thin ice when he tells us this sets Mr. West apart from “the vast majority of blacks who instinctively vote with Democrats.” That gives me pause. As two white men living in a state that is nearly all vanilla, we ought to be very careful about making sweeping generalizations about an entire category of our fellow citizens. I for one have only one close African-American friend. I wish that I had several more friends like him, but residential segregation, while not enforced de jure is still alive and well de facto. I imagine it will be a long time yet before a fine young African-American family occupies a fine old home on Main Street in a town like Hancock.

My friend is the chief financial officer in a family-owned high-tech engineering firm, one with a sub-contract on the Hubble Space Telescope. So I asked him how African-Americans like himself – politically astute college graduates – perceive Kanye West today. Here is his reply:

“Kanye West is my contemporary. His comments about slavery are reprehensible. While lots of African-Americans used to admire his music, his comments have made him persona non grata in my community as OJ Simpson’s activities in the mid 1990s made him reprehensible for most Americans including myself despite his great football skills.” Granted this is just one man’s opinion, but it is a thoughtful one from an intelligent young man who is rising to a leadership role in his community.

In case you missed Mr. West’s remarks on slavery, here’s the essence: “When you hear about slavery for 400 years ... For 400 years? That sounds like a choice.” That’s right, Kanye baby, just like the Holocaust and the Irish genocide (sometimes called “the potato famine”) and the Cherokees’ Trail of Tears and the Turks’ massacre of the Armenians – sure sounds like choice to me. Or are these examples of Kanye’s “message of love and acceptance”? Beats me.

Jim Curran