Woke World is losing what was left of its collective mind over “Ye’s” (that’s who used to be called Kanye West) stunt of using designer “White Lives Matter” T-shirts to promote his new fashion line “YZY” during Paris Fashion Week. Not only was the former Mr. Kardashian wearing the automatically offensive garment, but so was much-reviled black conservative Candace Owens.
Ye is almost certainly mentally and/or emotionally ill, but the rapper’s schtick is pushing buttons, and he does that boldly and very well. Being a little crazy probably helps. The question: Is there anything wrong with a T-shirt that says “White Lives Matter,” or unethical about wearing one?
There is one aspect of it that may be wrong: if doing so is only an intentional effort to upset people, reasonably or not, then the shirt invokes the Second Niggardly Principle:
“When an individual or group can accomplish its legitimate objectives without engaging in speech or conduct that will offend individuals whose basis for the supposed offense is emotional, mistaken or ignorant, but is not malicious and is based on well-established impulses of human nature, it is unethical to intentionally engage in such speech or conduct.”
Ye, being Kanye (or vice versa) only wants to offend, because that’s what gives him the publicity and attention that to him is like water to a fish. The shirts are not the product of deep philosophical thought. Nonetheless, the fashion writer that the New York Times sicced on the controversy m (Vanessa Friedman) is showing her bias (and you know what bias does) by writing, in a piece called “There Is No Excuse for Ye’s ‘White Lives Matter’ Shirt,”
the shirt, what it symbolized, and how its endorsement by a figure such as Ye — even one with a track record of wearing MAGA hats and toying with Confederate imagery — could be used as a rallying cry by those who already buy into its message.
“Indefensible behavior,” wrote Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, the Vogue editor, on Instagram. Later adding, “there is no excuse, there is no art here.” Jaden Smith, in the audience, walked out. So did Lynette Nylander, the Dazed writer and editor. The next day, at the Chanel show, Edward Enninful, the editor of British Vogue and the most powerful Black man in fashion media, called the shirt “inappropriate” and “insensitive, given the state of the world.”
Ms. Nylander had posted, “It doesn’t matter what the intention was … it’s perception to the masses out of context.”…
...[B]ackstage Ye declined to provide any theoretical framework. “It says it all,” he said, of the shirt. But what exactly does it say?
That he truly believes he can appropriate the language of racial violence with irony? That someday the power structure of Black and white will be reversed, and since he says this collection is the future, that’s the world he envisions? That Ye gets a kick out of pushing everyone’s buttons? That he wants to see how far he can go and doesn’t really care about, or think about, the collateral damage in the meantime (including to those children singing at his feet), despite the violence this could feed?
After the Vogue editor’s criticism, Ye tweeted in response, “Everyone knows that Black Lives Matter was a scam. Now it’s over. You’re welcome.” It’s hard to argue with that. Some of us knew that Black Lives Matter was a scam from the very beginning, but now that the truth is coming out about its leaders’ misuse of contributions for their own pleasure, the layers of scammery are becoming more apparent. It was certainly a clever scam, capitalizing on false narratives regarding the Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and George Floyd deaths, using a phrase that literally could not be denied (Like “Kittens Are Cute”) but that was designed to imply that black lives don’t matter to white Americans and U.S. institutions. It was, in short, a racist slogan, a divisive one, and one intended to spark violence, which it did, but its wielders managed to frame any counter-slogan, like “All Lives Matter,” “Blue Lives Matter,” or “It’s OK to be White,” as protests of white supremacy. Friedman writes that the T-Shirt’s message is “a phrase that the Anti-Defamation League has called hate speech and attributed to white supremacists (including the Ku Klux Klan), who began using it in 2015 in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.” Well, if the Anti-Defamation League says so, it must be true. The “OK” sign is also racist because white supremacists use it, but the fact that “Black Lives Matter” is spouted by rioters and out-right anti-white bigots doesn’t alter its benign and virtuous meaning. Got it. “Antiracism” requires different rules and standards for the races.
Whatever Ye’s motives were for the T-shirt, and I stipulate that the main and perhaps only one was self-promotion, the legitimate justifications for “White Lives Matter” include..
- It’s true.
- It’s more than high time that the purveyors of “Black Lives Matter” get a well-aimed thumb in their metaphorical eye.
- White Americans have a right and an obligation to push back against the vilification and demonizing they have been subjected to for years.
- Black Lives Matter is a scam, so it is fitting that the rejoinder is being pushed by a another huckster.
- Double standards are per se unethical, and racial double standards are divisive.
- It’s just words.
I’m sure there are others. Meanwhile, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, the black jogger who was gunned down by two racist red-necks, told reporters that the shirt “flies directly in the face” of what the rapper had privately expressed to her as gave the family financial support after the murder. Wanda Cooper-Jones said, though her lawyer, condemned his “mockery of the Black Lives Matter movement and his now denunciation of the movement as some sort of hoax…”
Again, it is a hoax. The artist formerly known a Kanye West has always styled himself as a truth-teller, and whatever his real motives, pointing out the truth about BLM by mocking it may be the T-shirts’ best justification of all.