When you get flak, you must be nearing the target. Visiting the White House, rapper Kanye West delivered a package of counterpoints to the lazy assumptions of the liberal-Left political and cultural establishment. In a stream of consciousness, Kanye opined on the plight of Black communities, criticizing politicians for pretending to care while doing very little - unlike the man sitting opposite him. Donald Trump has ended the long run of ‘business-as-usual’ presidents (which almost continued with Hillary Clinton). Compounding his verbal volley, Kanye wore a MAGA cap and hugged Trump afterward. Wow!
On my side of the pond, few people are objectively informed about Trump. The mainstream media, including those to the right of the spectrum, are disgracefully biased – apparently more concerned with their image than telling the truth. People here really believe that Obama was a great president and that Hillary would have been even better. But such judgment is as more due to pervasive identity politics than factual knowledge of policy or achievements.
My view of American politics was profoundly influenced by a trip to the Rustbelt, ten years ago. Attending a conference in Chicago, I decided to take a trip to Gary, on the southern shore of Lake Michigan. The scene of devastation was incomparably worse than the state of any northern British towns in a recession. I was taken aback by the almost complete closure of shops on a long boulevard flanked by long-closed department stores and theatres, and the absence of people at midday in a town of eighty thousand.
The only activity was at a community center, where a met a young White female volunteer for a Black vote campaign. She told me that many citizens were reluctant to complete a simple form to register for voting. I chatted to some older folk on a bus and they told me of the dreadful impact of factory closures. The jobless youth rise in the afternoon, and loiter around chicken joints until the early hours. The devil makes work for idle hands, and Gary had the highest per capita murder rate in the USA. ‘Stop the killings’ urged a billboard. As the election approached, there was lukewarm enthusiasm about the prospect of a first Black president. They knew that Obama would turn out just like the others.
For decades Washington has neglected the old industrial heartlands, northern cities to which millions of southern Blacks flocked in the 1950s and 60s. The Rustbelt exists because the elite neglected their own nation’s poor for loftier globalist ideals. Previous presidents have been more concerned with international agreements (often at American expense) than protecting jobs at home. As Kanye observed, everything is made in China. Trade deals have put American workers on the scrapheap, causing social malaise, drug dependence and suicide: cheaper goods from abroad cheapen lives in Detroit.
But Trump has turned the corner. After years of decline, Black employment has surged. He is bringing back the jobs, and it was not merely an electioneering slogan that ‘Trump digs coal’. His policies have reopened the mines, fired the steel mills and sounded the factory hooters. This is one reason why Trump’s support among Black voters has increased to 36%. But it’s not the only factor.
Black Americans are increasingly irritated by White do-gooders who claim to be their saviors. The ideology of racism, according to Kanye, is manipulated by middle-class progressives to control Black people. By conferring permanent victim status, privileged Whites exploit the disadvantaged as pawns in a culture war against the common people and their traditional, patriotic values. Virtue-signaling gains social, occupational and economic rewards for the signaller. But White supporters of the Black Lives Matter campaign have limited interest in changing the harsh realities of the ‘projects’. Their rhetoric on race actually harms Black communities, tainting the police as brutal racists, thus perpetuating the distrust that deters effective policing in areas plagued with gangs and drugs. Do these cool activists care about the death toll in Chicago or Baltimore? Kanye doubts it.
Trump has gained respect from a large proportion of the Black populace for his strength in the face of concerted opposition from the Deep State and vested interests. His pledge to ’drain the swamp’ is cutting through to parts of the electorate that politicians don’t normally reach. The blatantly political use of the #MeToo movement against the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was Trump’s biggest fight yet, and he won. Which other Western leaders would have withstood the media storm and hysterical protests as he did?
Massive crowds appear at Trump’s rallies: halls packed to the rafters, with thousands locked out. The media characterize these gatherings as stale, male and pale. But Trump’s support is broad -and broadening. As a Black man, Kanye offends liberal commentators: in their prejudice, they think he must be deranged, or perhaps seeking publicity through notoriety.
One voice on CNN denigrated Kanye as "a negro who doesn’t read".
The opprobrium for Kanye is because he is Black. This is the phenomenon of masked racism, endemic on the Left. In a dire comment article in The Guardian, Somalian writer Nadifa Mohamed asked whether Kanye deserves to be called ‘Uncle Tom’. After casting aspersions on the bereavement of his mother and some amateur psychiatric assessment, Mohamed stopped short of endorsing the familiar slur but argued that Kanye is ‘one of the lucky few insensible to the pain of the many’. So a Black guy advocating for his urban brothers is dismissed by a foreigner talking the language of the liberal elite.
Mohamed presented two other cases in her diatribe. The Conservative Party candidate for the next London mayoral election is Shaun Bailey, a highly experienced inner-city youth worker who can see the folly of apologetically liberal policing and the state welfare largesse that has decimated Black family life. Young Black men, raised without fathers, have suffered most. Ignoring the ‘coconut’ insult Bailey has received from the Left, Mohamed described him as "far right", a term she also used for her compatriot Ayaan Hirsi Ali. While Mohamed is free to write what she likes and to walk the streets, Hirsi Ali’s life is constantly in danger from Islamic fundamentalists. Here is the credit Mohamed gives her for speaking out against the oppression of women in Somali and broader Muslim society: -
"The reach of Hirsi Ali’s views, most of them dependent on her privileged position as an ‘insider’ within the Muslim world, is startling, and can only be understood in the context of how her extreme statements concord with mainstream prejudices."
Like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Shaun Bailey, Kanye West is "just the latest in a long line of minorities who have stood against their community". This is the outcome of identity politics: a strategy of social pigeon-holing that denies individual choice and freedom of expression.