There are opinions, and then there are facts. As the saying goes, people are entitled to their own version of the former, but not the latter.
A fact: Centuries of slavery in America were the consequence of the capturing and abusing of countless black people by white people, which led to more institutional racism and systemic oppression following emancipation.
An opinion based on a lie: “When you hear about slavery for 400 years … for 400 years? That sounds like a choice.” So Kanye West said during a TMZ interview on Tuesday.
“Like, you was there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all? It’s like we’re mentally in prison. I like the word ‘prison’ because slavery goes too direct to the idea of blacks. It’s like slavery, Holocaust. Holocaust, Jews. Slavery is blacks. So, prison is something that unites us as one race. Blacks and whites being one race. We’re the human race,” West continued.
Yes, West is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. Suggesting that 400 years of slavery “sounds like a choice” is simply not an opinion based in truth. Anyone who chooses to seek any fact in his statement is abandoning reason altogether. But this is where the cult of celebrity has gotten us. Our President, a former reality television star, has a hard time separating fact from fiction — and now his new fan Kanye clearly does too.
While President Trump’s position makes it harder to shut down his questionable statements, it shouldn’t be too difficult to do that for West. It’s time Americans of conscience seriously reconsider the role we play in giving celebrities a platform to espouse lies — especially at a time when everyone needs the truth more than ever.
Fortunately, TMZ’s Van Lathan stepped in to set the rapper straight on the difference between opinion and fact, telling West: “I think what you’re doing right now is actually the absence of thought and the reason why I feel like that is because, Kanye, you’re entitled to your opinion.”