Nebuchadnezzar was a power hungry anti-Semite, who burned down Jerusalem and enslaved the Jewish people. Kanye wants to sing about him.
"I believe God is using me to show off," Kanye West recently told Zane Lowe.
"He's like, now let me take this Nebuchadnezzar type character...he looked at his kingdom and said 'I did this,' And God said, 'Oh for real, you did this?'" West goes on to describe that Nebuchadnezzar was supposedly bipolar and that when the king attempted to take credit for God's work, God made sure "he was driven away from people and ate grass like an ox. His body drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird." In summation, West believed his mental breakdown in 2017 was an act of God, and that it was God's way of humbling him and reminding him of who was in charge. West said, "Nebuchadnezzar was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and he was still king." Now, West announced he will premiere an opera based on the life of the biblical king at Hollywood Bowl this year.
Kanye West performs in Houston jail with his Sunday Service choir www.youtube.com
After the king of Judah staged a failed rebellion against Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, the latter was enraged and vowed to punish King Zedekiah for his transgressions. In 588 BCE, Nebuchadnezzar's army marched to the walls of Jerusalem and surrounded the city, cutting off the Jewish people from the fields outside of the city, which they relied on for food. For a year and a half, the Babylonian army starved out the Jewish people. It's written in the Book of Jeremiah that the corpses began to pile up in the streets of Jerusalem and disease began to engulf the city. The Babylonians finally lay siege to the city in 586 BCE, when the Jewish people were far too weak to defend themselves. At the order of King Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian army set Jerusalem ablaze in the 9th of Av (now known as Tisha B'Av in July), 586 BCE and burned the city to the ground, including the first Jewish temple. The army then forced the surviving Israelites to march back to Babylon, where they became enslaved to Nebuchadnezzar. In Judaism, the 9th of Av is recognized as a day of intense mourning, as it is marked as the beginning of what would become decades of enslavement.
West's respect and admiration for one of history's most recognized anti-Semites is problematic in its own right, but West does share an uncanny resemblance to Nebuchadnezzar in his approach to Christianity. His Sunday Service performances have dissolved into revival like affairs, with audience members kneeling and accepting Jesus as their one true savior. Similarly, Nebuchadnezzar, after a series of dreams, decreed that nobody in Babylon should speak against God and forced his subjects to accept the supremacy of a one true lord.
This kind of militant view of Christianity is something Kanye has in common with Nebuchadnezzar, who was famously dismissive of those who stood against him and retaliated against his perceived enemies with violence. "There will be a time where I am president of the United States, and I will remember, I will forgive, but I will remember, any founder that didn't have the capacity to understand what we were doing," West told Zane Lowe. "Interesting tone though," Lowe responded with a laugh, "it's sort of like a threatening hybrid." West's smile quickly turned into a grimace. "What? I'm supposed to forget?"
The opera is set to premiere at the Hollywood Bowl on November 24.
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The Trump-Twitter Industrial Complex continues to fester and mutate.
This week, President Donald J. Trump tweeted a false statement about mail-in ballots.
He wrote that secretaries of state were sending mail-in ballots to every person, when actually states are only sending out ballot applications. For the first time, Twitter jumped in to fact-check Trump's statement, adding a link to a webpage full of information about mail-in ballots.
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Was the Jimmy Fallon Blackface Skit Intentionally Released as a Distraction from the Murder of George Floyd?
Racist police violence is a modern epidemic. So why are we talking about an SNL skit from 2000?
At this point, celebrity apologies are incredibly common. In 2020, it seems like some formerly beloved actor or TV personality is being put through the wringer of public opinion a few times a week.
Most recently, Twitter canceled Jimmy Fallon after an unquestionably racist skit from the 2000 season of SNL resurfaced online. The skit features Fallon impersonating Chris Rock, complete with black face and an offensive imitation of Rock's speech patterns.
Jimmy Fallon Blackface youtu.be
This quickly led to the hashtag #jimmyfallonisoverparty trending on Twitter. While fans seemed split on whether Fallon should be forgiven for the 20-year-old misstep, most everyone agreed that Fallon should apologize regardless. This morning, he did just that in the form of a tweet.
As far as celebrity apologies go, Fallon's is a pretty good one. He doesn't try to sidestep the blame, he doesn't bring up the fact that there were undoubtedly many, many other individuals involved in the creation of the skit, and he doesn't even mention the fact that in 2000, many people still thought it was possible for black face to be done in the spirit of fun, because the deeply racist nature of the act was largely ignored in mainstream (white) media. Of course, we know better now, and it's easy to see that a white person doing an exaggerated imitation of a black person—darkened skin included—can only be a racist, belittling act with a long, dark history of racial oppression. With that in mind, Fallon's only option was to apologize without caveat or reservation. Indeed, it's refreshing to see a celebrity apology that doesn't try to justify or minimize their own misstep. While we can all agree Fallon made a terrible, racist choice 20 years ago, we have to believe that, like all of us, he's grown since then. If cancel culture is to have any efficacy in making the world a better place, it has to leave room for forgiveness and growth. Hopefully, the whole affair will leave Fallon (and those who witnessed it) more racially sensitive.
All of that being said, one has to ask why the clip was brought up now, given that it's been circulated around the Internet before, and the specific YouTube clip that was shared was posted on the site over a year ago. It's also worth noting that the version of the clip that was going around Twitter has a text overlay that reads: "NBC FIRED MEGAN KELLY FOR MENTIONING BLACKFACE. JIMMY FALLON PERFORMED ON NBC IN BLACKFACE."
Megan Kelly, an outspoken conservative, was indeed fired from her job at NBC because she defended the use of blackface in Halloween costumes, saying on her talk show, "Truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween, or a black person who put on whiteface for Halloween," she said. "When I was a kid, that was OK as long as you were dressing up as a character." While Fallon's instance of racial insensitivity was in 2000, Kelly defended blackface in 2019, long after society at large had begun to acknowledge the hurt that blackface and other forms of racial impersonation could cause. This fundamental difference aside, Kelly also has a long history of racial insensitivity that Fallon does not, even once saying, "What is the evidence that what happened to Eric Garner and what happened to Michael Brown has anything to do with race?" in a conversation about the epidemic of racist police officers in America.
Given the text overlay, it's pretty clear that whoever began the #jimmyfallonisoverparty was not necessarily seeking justice for the black community, but was instead trying to imply hypocrisy in the cancellation of Megan Kelly, given that Fallon (who has been outspoken about the flaws of the Trump administration and political pundits like Kelly) is still on the air. One even has to wonder if, given that it's obvious that the #jimmyfallonisoverparty trend was begun by a conservative individual or group, if the trend was meant to be a distraction from the widespread racist police violence that has been emphasized in recent weeks by incidents like the death of George Floyd, a black man who was murdered in Minneapolis by a white police officer on Monday. It seems oddly coincidental that the clip of Fallon should flood the Internet with controversy the day after Floyd's murder, unfortunately serving to help steer conversation away from Floyd's unjust death.
Indeed, under the unquestionably racist Donald Trump administration, more and more black people are being harassed, attacked, and murdered at the hands of racist white civilians and police officers. But Trump and his supporters don't want you to focus on that–so much so that it doesn't feel impossible that the Fallon skit was intentionally weaponized as a distraction.
In the last few weeks alone we learned that Ahmaud Arbery was murdered senselessly by a white man while simply out for a jog, and we all witnessed the harassment of Christian Cooper, a black man who was threatened by a white woman in Central Park who didn't want to put her dog on a leash. It's clear that racism in America cannot be reduced to insensitive skits from 20 years ago but is instead a current and deadly problem. What Jimmy Fallon did in 2000 was racist, yes; but don't let that distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in 2020, don't let celebrity apologies make you take your eyes of our lawmakers, who aren't doing enough to protect people of color in this country. Don't let the latest "#_____isoverparty" trend distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in our laws, culture, and criminal justice system.
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