It’s been a couple of weeks now since Kanye West ramped up his flirtation with conservatism — and his liberal betters are still running around like headless chickens.

Take Ta-Nehisi Coates, for example. This morning, Coates posted a piece at the Atlantic decrying Kanye’s “collaboration” with white America.

If this is really your gold standard for “powerful,” “devastating” essays, you should probably re-examine your standards.

Coates is no doubt sitting somewhere right now congratulating himself for this hot garbage masquerading as deep insight:

It is so hard to honestly discuss the menace without forgetting. It is hard because what happened to America in 2016 has long been happening in America, before there was an America, when the first Carib was bayoneted and the first African delivered up in chains. It is hard to express the depth of the emergency without bowing to the myth of past American unity, when in fact American unity has always been the unity of conquistadors and colonizers—unity premised on Indian killings, land grabs, noble internments, and the gallant General Lee. Here is a country that specializes in defining its own deviancy down so that the criminal, the immoral, and the absurd become the baseline, so that even now, amidst the long tragedy and this lately disaster, the guardians of truth rally to the liar’s flag.

In short, Kanye West is immensely talented, but he’s a race traitor.

What Kanye West seeks is what Michael Jackson sought—liberation from the dictates of that we. In his visit with West, the rapper T.I. was stunned to find that West, despite his endorsement of Trump, had never heard of the travel ban. “He don’t know the things that we know because he’s removed himself from society to a point where it don’t reach him,” T.I. said. West calls his struggle the right to be a “free thinker,” and he is, indeed, championing a kind of freedom—a white freedom, freedom without consequence, freedom without criticism, freedom to be proud and ignorant; freedom to profit off a people in one moment and abandon them in the next; a Stand Your Ground freedom, freedom without responsibility, without hard memory; a Monticello without slavery, a Confederate freedom, the freedom of John C. Calhoun, not the freedom of Harriet Tubman, which calls you to risk your own; not the freedom of Nat Turner, which calls you to give even more, but a conqueror’s freedom, freedom of the strong built on antipathy or indifference to the weak, the freedom of rape buttons, pussy grabbers, and f*ck you anyway, b*tch; freedom of oil and invisible wars, the freedom of suburbs drawn with red lines, the white freedom of Calabasas.

It is often easier to choose the path of self-destruction when you don’t consider who you are taking along for the ride, to die drunk in the street if you experience the deprivation as your own, and not the deprivation of family, friends, and community. And maybe this, too, is naive, but I wonder how different his life might have been if Michael Jackson knew how much his truly black face was tied to all of our black faces, if he knew that when he destroyed himself, he was destroying part of us, too. I wonder if his life would have been different, would have been longer. And so for Kanye West, I wonder what he might be, if he could find himself back into connection, back to that place where he sought not a disconnected freedom of “I,” but a black freedom that called him back—back to the bone and drum, back to Chicago, back to Home.

Gotta love the irony of Coates decrying Kanye West’s supposed voluntary enslavement to white America by calling West out for trying to find his own way in the world. How does that work, exactly?

No kidding. And the thing is, Coates can rant and write until he’s blue in the face — and when push comes to shove, it won’t matter. Because Kanye just doesn’t care.

Kanye West is gonna Kanye West. And Coates can’t do a damn thing about it.



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