Ok, I’m first going to say that I admire and respect Kanye West as an artist. I love his music and I love how he visualizes that music in incredibly interesting, beyond booty-shaking videos that are a credit to the creativity and intelligence of his root culture. I loved his new tribute to MJ — the long form video Runaway which you should definitely watch.

And when Katrina went down, I think his incoherent and spontaneous protest on a live televised benefit actually captured pretty accurately the stunned outrage, sorrow, frustrated helplessness and profound disappointment in a government that failed to send troops, rescue personnel, medicine, water and food to needy people for days on end. And bitterness at a media environment that described hungry black people finding food as “looting” and hungry white people finding food as “finding food.”

His spontaneous protest was brave and compassionate. I’m posting that original video above so we all remember that moment in American history where – I don’t know about you — I thought I was losing my mind watching the lack of response to Katrina.

Since then — he has become one of the most irritating people on earth perhaps exceeded only by the man whose lack of action protested — George W. Bush. I kinda want both of these people to shut up and GTFOH.

Dubya’s feelings were hurt by Kanye back in 2005 (from E! Online of all places):

“He called me a racist,” Bush said of West’s ad lib during the Hurricane Katrina telethon.

“And I didn’t appreciate it then. I don’t appreciate it now. It’s one thing to say, ‘I don’t appreciate the way he’s handled his business.’ It’s another to say, ‘This man’s a racist.’ I resent it, it’s not true.”

[...]

Lauer decided to pull the former president up on his suggestion that Kanye’s undeniable low blow represented the nadir of his terms in office—that him simply being insulted by a pop star about his reaction to Hurricane Katrina was worse than dealing with the devastation the natural disaster caused, worse than the 9/11 attacks, standing under a rather ill-advised “Mission Accomplished” sign…you get the point.

“Don’t care,” Bush said. “No, and I also make it clear that the misery in Louisiana affected me deeply as well. There’s a lot of tough moments in the book. And it was a disgusting moment, pure and simple.”

Tough break for Kanye. No. 43 thinks he’s “disgusting,” No. 44 thinks he’s a “jackass.” It’s a lose-lose.

So just to double-click for a moment: “the misery in Louisiana affected me deeply as well”? Oh I’m glad that ALSO impacted you…! Heartless incompetent idiot. Oh and “it was a disgusting moment”? So I take that the incredulous outrage, sorrow and frustration of every black person in America and a whole lotta other Americans too at the unbelievable and complete failure to help people who happened to be mostly poor and black was “disgusting” to Bush? See this is why we as a nation came to hate you. It’s all about you. Why not just say — “look I can understand that people had strong feelings at that moment — I had them too and shared those emotions. I did the best I could — and it was obvious that my best wasn’t enough to alleviate the massive suffering.” Or something an adult would say. I will be so glad when someday that man is called to account for his crimes against humanity.

As for Ye’s own crimes against humanity, on the one hand, I actually admire him for attempting to take the high road. Again, from E!:

But West totally understands Bush’s pain now, because just as Obama‘s predecessor was raked across the political coals for Katrina, West was criticized for…interrupting Taylor Swift.

Sure, we see the parallels.

“For both situations, it was basically a lack of compassion that America felt in that situation,” West said, referring to the Swift episode.

“With him, it was a lack of compassion of him not rushing, him not taking the time to rush down to New Orleans. For me, it was a lack of compassion of cutting someone off in their moment. But nonetheless, I think we’re all quick to pull a race card in America. And now I’m more open, and the poetic justice that I feel, to have went through the same thing that he went [through]—and now I really more connect with him on just a humanitarian level.”

Um…ok, these two incidents are not alike and Kanye should just rap about politics and issues from now on — not talk about them. Please… But putting his Bush-like narcissism aside, there’s something reflective and mature in Kanye’s observation about the race card in America. As race relations mature in society, I think we need to be careful about applying the racist label and pulling the race card. That said, I think many people still believe that if Katrina had happened in a wealthy white suburb outside of Chicago that it wouldn’t have taken 5 days to get some doctors, police and water to people in need…and at that moment that George W. Bush and his administration didn’t care quite enough about black people…just sayin’…

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