Kanye West’s Warm But Definitely Racist Bizarro Welcome to Russia

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

Kanye West reportedly went to Moscow to celebrate the birthday of Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy—the head of design for the rapper’s fashion brand Yeezy. State media used to portray the performer and his wife, Bianca Censori, as symbols of decadent, degenerate Western values, but beggars can’t be choosers. Since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-fledged invasion of neighboring Ukraine in 2022, West is the first major celebrity to visit Russia.

Russia’s fascist ideologue Alexander Dugin posted on his Telegram channel, “By the way, ideologically, Kanye West is ours.” Perhaps he was referring to the comments West made one year ago on Alex Jones’ InfoWars, praising Adolf Hitler for what he brought to the table. After the rapper departed Moscow, Dugin wrote, “He will be back.”

The American rapper was outwardly welcomed, but resentment was bubbling just under the surface. The Sorok Sorokov Movement, a Russian Orthodox-traditionalist organization, wrote a complaint about West, arguing that his lyrics should be considered propaganda of extremism and drug use. Traditionalist activists demanded that Kanye be banished from Russia and never allowed to return.

The activists took exception to the line "She Russian, I beat up the p*ssy for Ukraine," for which they wanted West to get on his knees and issue a tearful apology. Instead, he was welcomed in Moscow by the crowds of adoring young fans, some wearing masks depicting his face, and chanting his name in the streets.

Military bloggers were quite explicit in their distaste. military Telegram channel “Older than Edda” posted, “Someone sits for 6 hours in a trench riddled with bullets, in scorching heat or in the bitter cold, and someone waits for 6 hours for the American negro Kanye West and gets ecstatic, watching him sail along the Moscow River on a yacht. The latter are vile before the Face of God, for they have created an idol for themselves from among the heroes of Don't Be a Menace to South Central.”

Military correspondent Andrey Medvedev wrote, “Because of the arrival of a fashionable singing negro, the especially gifted draw far-reaching conclusions about the international situation and the breakthrough in Russia's isolation. In a fit of schizophrenic inspiration, they already want to give Kanye a Russian passport. Sure, why not. Meanwhile, millions of Russians will wait in line.”

Editor Pavel Pryanikov remarked, “It is shameful and disgraceful how in the past 24 hours the official-patriotic online intelligentsia has been describing a fan of Hitler and a rabid anti-Semite, a moral monster and everyday degenerate African American Kanye West, who came to Moscow to make money, as a representative of the “Russian World.””

Blogger Ilya Varlamov noted, “All of Moscow is watching where Kanye West ate, where he stayed, how many times a day he used a toilet. And it doesn’t matter that the gentleman is actually a complete fool, an anti-Semite, a Hitler fan, a supporter of the wildest conspiracy theories. But he is an A-M-E-R-I-C-A-N! A real American and he’s honored us with his attention! We should kiss his feet! We’re no longer in isolation.”

Appearing on a state TV show 60 Minutes on Monday, Vitaly Tretyakov, Dean of the Higher School of Television at Moscow's Lomonosov State University, admitted he was not sharing the excitement over the rapper’s visit. Instead, he admitted dreaming of the day a Russian rapper travels to New York and adoring Americans line up to see him. Tretyakov bitterly noted that at this point, the only Russian Americans would line up to see is Putin, “and he is not a rapper.”

During the same show, where West’s trip was discussed ad nauseam, Professor of World Politics at the Moscow State University Alexei Fenenko explained the phenomena of loathing West, but welcoming him anyway. Describing Kanye as “our wonderful rapper,” the professor said that his arrival was “important and meaningful.” Fenenko stated that it represents the demise of the old thinking by “Russia’s liberals and patriots.” He said that Russians used to think, “Why do we need these colored people? Why would we want to befriend African Americans in the United States? Why would we befriend the Asians? Why would we befriend Africa? White Anglo-Saxons and white Europe are our friends!”

Professor Fenenko added, “Some of our patriots used to say, “They are our friends, because Russia is the last reservoir of the white race in the world, we are in the same boat. Together with Europe, we stand against the colored people.” He complained, “In reality, did even one white European country support us? Not one! The moment of truth is here. Who supported us? The non-whites, whom we were just recently embarrassed to befriend. The colored people that we were told we should turn away from, for the sake of friendship with white Anglo-Saxon elites.”

Fenenko bitterly added that whether Russians like it or not, the moment of truth is here, and they will never be welcomed into “the club of white Anglo-Saxon elites.” Therefore, he argued, Russia should build relationships with the “colored nations and African Americans in the United States,” in the best traditions of the USSR.

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