LOS ANGELES: Kanye West declared his “love” of Nazis and admiration for Adolf Hitler on Thursday, sparking outrage as another commercial partner announced it was splitting from the troubled superstar.
In an extraordinary hours-long appearance on Infowars, the show fronted by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, West -- now known as Ye -- wore a black mask completely covering his face, as he ranted about sin, pornography and the devil.
“I like Hitler,“ West said several times.
Even though West hid his face -- the mask had neither eye nor mouth slits -- there seemed no doubt it was him. Jones addressed him as West as they spoke, Infowars billed the interview as being with West, and at one point Jones took West's cellphone and posted a tweet on his account that appeared in real time.
West, who has hinted he is running for US president in 2024, has spoken openly about his struggles with mental illness, but his erratic behavior has continued to raise concerns.
The rapper-businessman has seen his commercial relationships crumble after a series of anti-Semitic comments, as the one-time titan of fashion and music appears to have entered a disturbing spiral.
In his lengthy appearance on the Infowars livestream, West opened the throttle, drawing shocked laughter and even disagreement from far-right host Jones.
“I see good things about Hitler also,“ he told Jones.
“This guy... invented highways, invented the very microphone that I used as a musician, you can’t say out loud that this person ever did anything good, and I’m done with that.”
Hitler did not invent either of those things.
“I’m done with the classification, every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler.
“I like Hitler.”
'I love Nazis'
Jones, a serial provocateur who has been ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for claiming one of America’s deadliest school shootings was a “hoax,“ interjected that “the Nazis were thugs and did really bad things.”
West did not back down.
“But they did good things too. We gotta stop dissing the Nazis all the time... I love Nazis,“ West said.
Hours after the astonishing performance, social media platform Parler, a favorite of conservatives for its hands-off approach to moderation, said a deal for West to buy the outfit was off.
“Parlement Technologies would like to confirm that the company has mutually agreed with Ye to terminate the intent of sale of Parler,“ the network said on Twitter.
“This decision was made in the interest of both parties in mid-November.”
In October, German sportswear giant Adidas severed its lucrative tie-up with West after the star made anti-Semitic statements, including threatening to “go death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE,“ using a misspelled reference to US military readiness.
Paris fashion house Balenciaga and US clothing retailer Gap have also ended ties with West, who appeared at a Paris fashion show wearing a shirt with the slogan “White Lives Matter,“ a rebuke to the Black Lives Matter racial equality movement.
West appeared on the Jones program with Nick Fuentes, the same white supremacist with whom West had dinner last week with Donald Trump at the former president's Florida estate, in a meeting that provoked outrage.
Thursday’s livestream sparked immediate condemnation from the Republican Jewish Coalition, which dubbed the three men “a disgusting triumvirate of conspiracy theorists, Holocaust deniers, and anti-Semites.”
“Given his praise of Hitler, it can’t be overstated that Kanye West is a vile, repellent bigot who has targeted the Jewish community with threats and Nazi-style defamation,“ a statement from the group said.
“Conservatives who have mistakenly indulged Kanye West must make it clear that he is a pariah. Enough is enough.” - AFP