SAY WHAT? - It's been a good week for Hitler, press coverage-wise, in the "battle of the psychopaths" that is America's current klatch of bigots, fascists, white supremacists, celebrity Nazis and, yes, Republicans. On Thursday, in a singular consortium of awful, rapper and anti-Semite Kanya "Ye" West joined white nationalist and anti-Semite Nick Fuentes on Sandy- Hook-denier and conspiracy wingnut Alex Jones' Infowarsshow so Jones could defend their honor after the backlash to their recent, creepy "Dine Kampf" moment with Trump at Mar-A-Lago. Lest we forget, the guy who declared there were "good people on both sides" of the rampaging, tiki-torch-and-swastika-bearing hordes in Charlottesville has been leading the GOP mainstreaming of Nazism for years with coded attacks on "George Soros," "international banks," "globalists" and "negotiators" who are "brutal killers" that queasily skirt outright anti-Semitic tropes but still transmit from the fever swamp the hate that dare not speak its name. Alas, this week West shattered that carefully crafted plausible deniability - what, me fascist? - with a toxic, manic, Hitler love-fest that left even the hateful Jones squirming. Near the end, he tried to steer the boat to safer waters by declaring, just before a commercial break, "I don't like Nazis." Quickly interjecting, Ye insisted, "I like Hitler." Muttered the newly discomfited Jones, "This is Twilight Zone 2.0."
Of course the master of plausible deniability has long been Tucker Carlson, who relentlessly pushes the narrative that a sinister cabal of "global elites" are "replacing legacy Americans" with people from "far-away countries" to destroy Western civilization and white guy testoterone with it, thus adroitly telling white nationalists he is "ultimately on our side” while not saying any bad words to offend the puppet-masters profiting from his hate. Last month, Tucker put West on his show for a much-hyped, straightening-the-record appearance after West got blasted for his "White Lives Matter" shirt and threat to "go death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE." But as they predictably trashed the Clintons and Obamas, West kept veering defiantly off-script into anti-Semitic delirium, raging about a "woke culture" controlled by "Zionist media." In the aired version, Carlson vitally edited out most of Ye's ugly, bonkers stuff - "professional actors" put "fake kids" in his house, God gives him visions about "kinetic energy communities," he'd rather his kids know Hanukkah than Kwanzaa for its "financial engineering," "public figures" kidnapped "my black child" on her birthday," etc - and called the conversation "interesting, deep, provocative." See-no-evil Republicans, desperate for a black, famous, right-wing hero - not a manic anti-Semite - played along: That day, the House GOP Twitter account proclaimed a new, unholy Trinity of the GOP: "Kanye. Elon. Trump.”
Then came the Infowars show, where Ye bizarrely appeared with his face totally covered in a black mask or bag and no, nobody knows why. Presumably, Jones envisioned it as a self-serving stop on a glorious redemption tour for Ye, who after losing billions in corporate deals and the support of many fans was now "going through a Job-ian trial." Maybe, but he was also still frenetically self-destructing, and taking the sanctum and complacency of in-the-closet anti-Semites with him. This was an unsurprising development, given he is clearly not well, reportedly long had an "obsession" with Hitler, once wanted to name an album for him, and seems resolutely unaware that the Nazis, who also hated black people as "racially impure," would have sent him to a camp and forcefully sterilized his children. Still, his current, toxic mania was a potent reminder to one observer of the moment in 2018 "someone had advised getting off the Kanye train before it inevitably reaches the 'Hitler was a good guy' stop." Now, here we are. Jones opened by arguing that Ye was being "demonized" for his earlier comments, and he should't be. "You're not Hitler," he asserted. "You're not a Nazi." "Well, I see good things in Hitler," retorted Ye. "Today you can't say out loud this person ever did anything good. I'm done with that. Every human being has value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler." (For us, and many others, the "especially Hitler" added a definite pizazz.)
It went on, and on. He expressed his "love" for Hitler, who had a neat outfit, was a good architect, seems "like a cool guy," invented highways and "the very microphone I use as a musician," and didn't slaughter over six million Jews and others, including black people. Jones: "I think Hitler did target and kill some people." Ye: "I think Obama killed Palestinians (that's true) and wasn't the first black president. He was another Jewish president." (There's never been a Jewish president.) Using a freakish falsetto, he enacted a little puppet show as Benjamin Netanyahu, whose name he recently learned; holding a fly swatter and a bottle of Yoo Hoo - net/yoo-hoo, get it? - he squealed, "We have to control the history books, we have to control the banks, we have to go and kill people." (That's true, too.) "I don't like the word 'evil' next to Nazis," he said. "I love Jewish people, but I love Nazis too." "I like Hitler. They did good things too," he argued. "We got to stop dissing Nazis all the time. The Jewish media has made us feel like the Nazis and Hitler have never offered us anything of value to the world." When c'mon, lookit the masterful ovens they made. Later, he flatly declared, "I'm a Nazi." Jones: "We're in insane asylum world." Ye: "Don't point at me when you say that." Twitter: "Kanye going on Alex Jones to say 'I like Hitler' should be mind-blowing, but in 2022 it's just a Thursday."
After Ye's public implosion, a few meek, mainstream right-wing voices spoke up. The Republican Jewish Coalition - who nu? - called Ye, Jones and Fuentes "messengers of hate," adding, "Conservatives who have mistakenly indulged Kanya West must make it clear he is a pariah." After almost two months, the GOP Twitter account that gave Ye that giddy shout-out quietly removed it, evdently unaware the Internet is forever and images of it persist. Still, the move was clarifying for those who've watched in horror as the GOP oozes ever further to the right and dark. "Okay. Cool. Now we know their limits. 'I like Hitler' is the dealbreaker," wrote one. Noted another, "They just took it down so they could add Hitler," so someone did. Argued one hard-liner, "The GOP should be forced to carry their mistake to term." A couple of zealots backed off, slightly: Paul Gosar removed a tweet, "Pray for Kanye West. They will throw everything they have at him just for telling the truth"; MTG declared, "Of course I denounce Nick Fuentes," then smilingly greeted him at a Nazi gathering. When 57 GOP lawmakers were asked about Trump's dinner with haters, one said it was "a bad idea"; almost all the rest maintained a deafening silence. So has Trump, who's refused to denounce anyone. But he did release a weird video, playing his famous air accordion, to tell Jan. 6 rioters they've been treated "very unfairly," America is "going Communist," "people are being tormented," and please re-instate him as president.
Beyond the feudal halls of the GOP, there's been some blowback. The right-wing Parler pulled out of an impending deal for Ye to buy it; former Ye fans turned his Reddit account, with 700,000 subscribers, into an appreciation page for his longtime nemesis Taylor Swift and a Holocaust awareness resource; Ye was again banned from Twitter for posting a Star of David around a swastika as a symbol for his 2024 "presidential campaign"; he responded by harrassing his ex-wife and defending a dubious Balenciaga ad campaign with, "Cancel cancel culture Jesus please heal." Elsewhere, Philip Roth's "indigenous American berserk," with its attendant violence and hypocrisy, goes on apace. Precisely as Ye was lauding Hitler, Billboard, with "bad timing of Biblical proportions," declared him 2022's Top Gospel Artist and Top Christian Artist; the Internet: "Hitler Did Some Good, Lord," "Onward, Christian Fascists," "People Get Ready - There's A Train With No Water or Ventilation Coming." Fuentes, buoyed by Trump's complicity, said he and Ye are working on a new U.S. Constitution to make real their vision of an authoritarian America that treats opponents "without mercy." And Elon Musk was touting a new Hunter Biden story while re-instating Daily Storm's long-banned, virulently racist, anti-Semitic and misogynistic neo-Nazi Andrew 'YE24' Anglin, who despite two outstanding arrest warrants still vows to "ethnically cleanse" America; in a Charlottesville speech, he boasted he and fellow-thugs would soon be "digging graves" for "enemies of the white race." On Twitter, he was swiftly welcomed back by fans "checking in for duty."