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Columnists Freddy Gray Politics US Politics

The new identity politics is conservative

April 25, 2018

12:16 PM

25 April 2018

12:16 PM

Celebrity opinion, that awful juggernaut, is beginning to shift. It could take another 30 years before we see any great turn. Yet slowly, slowly, famous people are realising that intense political correctness isn’t working. Old fashioned identity politics now bores the fans. One by one, celebrities are starting to reposition themselves. 

The stars are working out that the new rebellious move is to posture against the politically correct left. The real mavericks, to use Emmanuel Macron’s new favourite word, know that in the 21st century, true radicalism – or the appearance of true radicalism, and the fame game is always only about appearances – comes from the right. Radicalism means looking like one is prepared to stand up to authoritarian progressivism. 

I’m talking about Kanye West. Yes, him again. Because he tweeted Candace Owens this week, a black woman who says provocative things, and the media freaked out again about the alt-right and the way it is twisting our reality.  

Kanye isn’t himself alt-right. He’s just an attention seeker who’s started to notice that to make headlines that attract people, you need to speak to the new working-class coalition in America. You need to say things that make rich people angry and poor people cheer. You need to talk common sense in a provocative way. 

Eminem, the white rapper, does not appear to know this. His contrived anti-Trump stunt in October ended up hurting him. He used to be a working-class hero, a man who told it like it is. Today he just looks like another member of the preachy elite.  

This week, people are again talking up Kanye’s chances of reaching the White House. And by people, I really mean Kanye West:

So, Kanye 2024? Why not? Politics sold out to celebrity a long time ago, and our age is increasingly mad. The new fame-hungry rebels are on the right – but that just goes to show how vacuous modern politics has become. Every generation gets the leadership it deserves.  

The opinions found on Fox News and InfoWars seem to be making waves in the way that Rolling Stone opinions once did. It feels edgy and daring to say that Black Lives Matters is in fact reactionary and racist. ‘We survived centuries of slavery and decades of Jim Crow only to turn around and give up our freedom to THINK?,’ tweets Candace Owens.

In fact, as Candace is learning, being an outspoken conservative (Or what Fox News calls conservative) and from an ethnic or sexual minority is the quickest way to make a name for yourself in a crowded media market. Milo Yiannopoulos blazed a trail in this respect, as a gay man who talked about how terrible Islam was. The new identity politics is conservative. ‘Look at me, I’m gay/black/trans and I say this!’  

Now famous people, led by Kanye, will start to catch up. If you happen to be well-known, and dare to say something that offends liberal elite thinking, you are condemned by powerful media groups and corporate America. It’s you against the man. A rebel with a cause.

In a way, it’s great. It’s funny. It makes the news less anodyne. But it’s also silly because Kanye West is obviously a preposterous character. He’s fairly mad, a man so lost in vanity he doesn’t know how to get out. President Trump is an egomaniac, too, although with him there is still just a whisker of hope that the arrogance is an act. But both men are hyper-individualists. They are narcissists who think they can bend the arc of history to their will. Then again, so did Obama.  


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