The Case of the Canceled Ye
Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West, is in hot water yet again. An immensely talented musician, he is also someone who struggles with mental illness in the constant glare of the spotlight, for media loves a conflagration, especially when it unfolds in real time and high definition.
One reason for the constant attention to Ye is his marriage into the Kardashian family, famous because they are rich. The levels of depravity in all of this are almost enough to turn me Calvinist! (As in the particularly glum and passive read on humanity in the Reform Christian theology of Jean Calvin, not to be confused with the wild child and his stuffed tiger buddy of comic strip fame!)
Ye's current trouble relates to antisemitic comments, like “death con 3 ON JEWISH PEOPLE.” He's been “canceled,” or more specifically, “de-platformed,” forced off of most social media platforms as a result. In response, he has agreed to purchase Parler, a small social media platform associated with white nationalism and host to organizing efforts before the January 6, 2021 attempted coup d'etat.
One of Ye's corporate partners, Adidas (ironically founded by a Nazi), has cut ties with him after intense public pressure.
It is my instinct to always default to grace. That is what Jesus demands of us, after all. And it is hard to tease out Ye's individual sin from his illness and our corrupt culture, from the absolute failure that is for-profit mental health care to the depravity of “reality television” and the cult of personality, especially the worship of the super-rich, so important in the recent unraveling of our democracy.
Still, we must draw some boundaries. We can feel compassion for Ye in his struggle with mental illness and also insist that there can be no acceptable public platform for antisemitism.
The Case of the Canceled Ye is our moment in a nutshell, the tension between our compassion aligned with God's grace and the very real need to confront evil and save lives, for evil is claiming lives every single day, from the Donbas to Dallas. This is not abstract. This is the terrifying and painful last minutes of children in Uvalde, of children in Kherson.
This is not easy, and it might be tempting to just stay at home and hide from the world. History tells us how that always ends. We must engage the world, together, with fierce love.