Kanye the Conservative? Not so Fast

Editor’s Note: The following is Michael Huling’s weekly Highlight.

The dominating story in conservative circles this past week was not the possible upcoming resolution of the conflict with North Korea. It wasn’t the devastating Alfie Evans story. Nor was it Bernie Sanders’ insane plan to “guarantee” a job for all Americans. Instead, many conservatives were focused on the alleged “red-pilling” of none other than rap superstar Kanye West.

The same Kanye who President Obama called a “jackass,” for his notorious interruption of Taylor Swift at the 2009 Video Music Awards. The same Kanye who said that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” The same Kanye who hasn’t released a good song since 2009. Before you lecture me on how Kanye is now “woke” and will be an excellent successor to President Trump, allow me to do what Kanye didn’t give Taylor Swift the chance to do, which is finish.

Kanye made waves with a set of tweets, some of which were intriguingly true and even sounded rather conservative. The first tweet that caught the attention of conservatives, and apparently everyone else, was one praising Candace Owens of Turning Point USA.

I’m not much of a Candace Owens fan, mostly because I prefer my conservative thought leaders to be sophisticated, logical, and evidence-based. Candace seems like a decent woman, even if she does fall victim to the sort of bumper sticker conservatism that I don’t find to be particularly useful or compelling. Her response to Kanye was one that I have some gripes with, primarily because being inspired only by Kanye West and being your own biggest fan are not exactly my ideals. It’s also quite ironic coming from Owens, given that just last month she was featured in a PragerU video titled, “Dear Celebrities: No One Cares What You Think.”

If the tweet about Candace Owens “broke the internet,” then some of the subsequent tweets from Kanye must have set it on fire.

If all of this wasn’t enough, Chance the Rapper, possibly a distinction from the Chance the Opera Singer and Chance the Punk Rocker, joined in the cause.

I think a lot of this is great, especially given the cultural monopoly that the Left has had for decades. It also led to the Twitter Left and late night talk show host Left to come together in unison, condemning both Kanye and Chance for having the audacity to challenge the Left’s celebrity hegemony.

So, Kanye and Chance said some solid things in their respective tweets, and much of the Left had a predictable conniption over it. Some conservatives are cheering this moment as a massive momentum shift, saying that it could “change everything”!

Call me a bit of a skeptic, but I’m not quite ready to jump on board a Kanye/Chance 2024 campaign. I don’t think either rapper has much to offer to conservatism, and some of what they’ve said in the fallout seems to show this as being the case. Chance has since put out a lengthy apology, caving to the leftist mob rather than standing firm in his beliefs. Kanye has declared a new hero of his, none other than Parkland student and leading gun control advocate, Emma Gonzalez.

Perhaps there is something much more profound going on here. Maybe there is a deep-rooted skepticism in many people that has been looking for an opportunity to come out. It’s possible that we’re witnessing a manifestation of the preference falsification phenomenon, in which people present a public preference that varies dramatically from their private one. That was certainly a big part of Trump’s 2016 victory, as many people simply didn’t want to vocalize their support for him in fear that they would be vilified as racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic bigots. It’s also conceivable that the radical Left’s constant attacks on free speech, religion, gun rights, and other basic issues that many Americans care deeply about have shifted the tides in favor of conservatism. I hope this is the case. Not just for the sake of conservatism, but for our country. We’ll have to wait and see if anything substantial comes from this week’s events, but I’d caution conservatives from abruptly throwing their support behind celebrities.

The Fun Stuff:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. LeBron James is the greatest basketball player of all time, without question. He single-handedly lifted the Cavs past the Pacers in a thrilling seven game series. While his teammates were played very poorly throughout the series, LeBron averaged an astounding 34 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists. With his team’s season on the brink of ending, he hit this game-winning shot in game five.

After the Pacers put on an impressive performance at home in game six, the series was set to head back to Cleveland for a decisive game seven. James saved his best performance for this win or go home game, putting up 45 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists in a 105-101 win. Given his subpar supporting cast, it’s unlikely that the Cavs will reach the NBA finals this year, let alone win it. LeBron’s detractors will use this against him, but the fact is that we are watching the greatest player of all time at his best.

The Yankees have finally hit their stride. After this weekend’s sweep of the Angels, the Bronx Bombers have now won nine in a row. The power hitters are finding a rhythm, embodied by Gary Sanchez’s walk-off home run on Thursday, completing the sweep of the Twins.

Didi Gregorius and Aaron Judge are playing like MVP candidates, while Giancarlo Stanton has rediscovered his swing. Luis Severino and CC Sabathia continue to dominate on the mound, with the bullpen also pitching well. The Yankees are firing on all cylinders, which is perfect timing as the team’s next series is against last season’s World Series champions, the Houston Astros.

The 2018 NFL Draft also took place from Thursday through Saturday. Some of my first round hot takes can be found here, but I’d like to offer a few additional thoughts. I really like Baker Mayfield, although the Browns drafting him makes me nervous. I think he’s the best quarterback in this class, and just might be the one to finally turn Cleveland around. Sam Darnold should be a solid quarterback of the future for the Jets, and Josh Rosen has the potential to be a franchise player for Arizona. I think Josh Allen is a complete bust who was drafted solely for his physical attributes, as his skills are underdeveloped and his stats are mediocre, compared to the other quarterbacks. I also don’t think Lamar Jackson will have success at the NFL level, despite his impressive skill set.

There is this absurd notion being permeated that Jackson is being unfairly critiqued because he happens to be a black quarterback, with teams apparently focusing on his athleticism rather than his passing ability. The idea that teams are hesitant to take black quarterbacks early in the draft is easily refutable. Here’s the list of black quarterbacks taken in the first round just since 1999: Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith, Daunte Culpepper, Michael Vick, Vince Young, JaMarcus Russell, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston, and now Lamar Jackson. I guess we shouldn’t really be surprised at this point to see people desperately infuse RACISM™ into stories that aren’t even remotely controversial.

Most teams appeared to have decent drafts, but I wish the 49ers had gone with a defensive secondary player in the first or second round, ideally Minkah Fitzpatrick (in the first) or Josh Jackson (in the second). Don’t get me wrong, I’m more excited for this upcoming season than I have been for the past few, but I think we could’ve had a better draft. As is the case with anything else, time will tell.

Lastly, I’d like to recommend Jonah Goldberg’s new bookSuicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy. I think he’s the best conservative author alive, and my Highlight was inspired in part by his G-File at National Review. Goldberg is someone I really look up to, not just as a brilliant conservative intellectual, but also as someone who is able to separate politics from the more important things in life.

I’ve noticed a lot of young conservatives, myself included, who have fallen into the trap of becoming obsessive about politics. I’ve been there, and it’s very easy to get sucked into it as someone with significant concerns about the direction of our nation. However, it’s important to keep things in perspective. Politics is not the only thing in life, nor is it the most important thing. It’s thing, among many others. The moment you focus on politics to the extent that everything else is secondary is the moment that meaning and happiness are replaced by stress and anxiety. To adapt an analogy that Goldberg has often used, politics is a little bit like adding salt to a sauce. A pinch of salt can bring together the entire dish, too much salt can ruin it, and way too much can kill you. Don’t let politics become lethal, but do keep it in moderation.

Have a great week and God bless.


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