In the middle of Ye’s gimp-suited rant on Alex Jones’ morally and financially bankrupt show yesterday, between attacking the supposed godlessness of Dave Chappelle — a practicing Muslim — and expressing admiration for Hitler, the artist formerly known as Kanye West slipped in a word of praise for Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker.
“Meanwhile we want to knock Herschel Walker, but Herschel Walker changed his life for Christ” Ye declared. “And he might have had abortions, but he doesn’t believe in abortion.”
People ask how Herschel Walker could have been nominated by the same white conservative Georgia Republicans who go to war over “critical race theory” and “woke” politics. You can see the answer in the inane grin of Nick Fuentes sitting across from West in the studio.
As long as we’re talking about West being a racist, we’re bogged down in a freshman-level diversity seminar meta-conversation about whether Black people can actually be racist or West’s mental health struggles, and not the bigger picture: how the far right is amplifying Black celebrities like West – and, frankly, Herschel Walker – to openly advocate for vile ideas.
It’s not the first time Ye endorsed Walker. Ye’s Instagram page posted a photo of Walker in November with the words “Pro Life” beside it.
On some base level, white racists love hearing a Black voice articulating ideas that they can’t say themselves in public without blowback. It’s a political minstrel show with the wacky antics of comically-damaged Black people presented for the amusement of white audiences. Fuentes gets to wear blackface with Ye as his based proxy.
Fuentes is an avowed and unmistakable white nationalist who had a prominent role in the January 6th capitol protests. I saw him in person, surrounded by demented racist groypers and Proud Boys on the Georgia capitol steps in the days of protest following the 2020 election. “We are going to forfeit our civilizational inheritance if we let Joe Biden get in office,” he said, calling for protestors to go to the homes of politicians. “Once he gets in, it will be a feeding frenzy for the anti-human, anti-American, anti-white, anti-Christian globalist elite that have been trying to take this country down for centuries.”
One of the great fears of white nationalists is that America faces a demographic destiny augured by racists as “replacement theory.” My friend Alan Abramowitz, a social scientist at Emory University in Atlanta, measures racism. According to his survey work, about half of white voters without a college degree – and a third with one – have high measures of racial resentment. That’s 28 percent of the electorate and about 50 percent of Republican primary voters. As America grows browner over time, one can project that this share of the electorate will fall.
That’s why Fuentes spends as much time attacking Republicans as Democrats. He’s worried that the Republican Party will do the politically rational thing and broaden its appeal to nonwhite voters, rather than raise the stakes until a race war breaks out.
Elevating political figures like Kanye West and Herschel Walker deliberately short-circuits racial moderation on the right. The candidacies of people like West or Walker aren’t designed to win Black voters. They’re intended to irritate Black voters for the amusement of racists, the alt-right equivalent of Emperor Caligula sending his horse Incitatus to the senate as consul. It is a signal of their contempt for the political process.
There are Black conservatives who aren’t nuts in Georgia, like former state representative Melvin Emerson or Columbus congressional candidate Jeremy Hunt. They are, generally, deeply religious conservatives and former service members with libertarian views about guns and cultural resistance to LGBTQ politics, for whom these issues matter more than making common cause with white racists. Republicans regularly win about one out of seven Black men in Georgia.
There’s no shortage of loopy Black conservatives with varying degrees of sincerity willing to work an election as a way to separate conservatives from their money. Vernon Jones, a former CEO of DeKalb County, had a pro-choice voting record as late as 2019. But the campaign money is better as a Stetson-wearing Trumpist annoyance, and so his grift shifted. The performative opposition to high-profile Democratic leaders in locked-down districts generally looks like Angela Stanton-King, who won a pardon from federal prison on charges related to a car-theft ring from Trump and emerged shortly after as a Q-Anon swilling reality television star who called for a coup against Biden.
But few Colin Powells remain in the Georgia Republican Party. Trumpists have incrementally marginalized them over the last six years. When the Secret Service hustled Michael McNeely, the Black vice-chair of the Georgia Republican Party, out of the local delegation when Trump visited Atlanta in 2016, it was a signal. Today, the highest elected Black Republican in the state is on a school board or a city council.
Walker wasn’t supposed to win. He was supposed to demonstrate to white voters that Black people won’t vote for conservatives even if it’s “one of their own.” He’s meant to be a symbol of white political desperation and an in-joke before the militias start mobilizing. We’ll know how that works out in a few days.