The infamous red ‘MAGA’ (Make America Great Again) hat, donned by Donald Trump and his supporters during his successful election campaign, has become synonymous with all the aspects of Trump and his presidency that his adversaries claim make him undeserving of his position. Racism, misogyny and deceit, to name but a few. Why then is world-famous rapper, Kanye West, known for his brash personality, wearing the cap for all the media to condemn? Is his support for Trump really as naïve as most think, or can Kanye’s stance be justified?

Not only is it unusual for a high profile African-American to publicly support Trump, but Kanye, now 41 years old, has in the past spoken out against the Republicans. His declaration in 2005 that ‘George Bush doesn’t care about black people’ demonstrates Kanye’s opinion of the Republican role in the institutionalised racism of modern America, making his endorsement of Trump come across as somewhat hypocritical.

The scandalous relationship began early in 2018, when Kanye relaunched his Twitter with a flurry of thought-inducing tweets. It was in these tweets that his support for Trump becomes apparent, claiming the two share the same ‘dragon energy’ and that the ‘mob can’t make me not love him’, as well as posting his first picture of the MAGA hat, signed by Trump himself. Unsurprisingly, criticism came flying Kanye’s way, from haters and fans alike. Some even questioned the rapper’s mental health, something he has openly struggled with before.

The controversy filled saga seems to have come to its apogee with Kanye appearing on SNL in September. After performing whilst wearing the divisive red baseball cap, Kanye took to the stage to try and defend his choice to parade the hat on one of America’s most popular TV shows. ‘They bully me backstage’, Kanye says, in an attempt to preach ‘love’ rather than ‘hate’. He also appears to attack the mainstream media, claiming that 90% of it is ‘liberal’, who try to tell people, especially African-Americans, what they can and cannot believe. Naturally, there was a backlash from these statements, with SNL seemingly cutting Kanye short amongst booing from the crowd. But does Kanye have a point?

For the majority of people, including those in Britain, Trump and his presidency are hard to agree with. Does this mean it is right that those who endorse him should be ‘bullied’? Should they be strong-armed by mainstream media in to changing their views? Should a celebrity, love or hate him, have his mental health questioned for supporting his president? Many would point to Trump’s derogatory attitude towards minorities and women, stating that those who do support Trump are indeed supporting these possibly dangerous mind-sets. Many have asked Kanye whether he should be openly supporting Trump when he could instead be representing the views of the overwhelming majority of his race and fans.

Whatever may be thought of Kanye or Trump, it seems that against all the reproach Kanye West’s choice of headwear has opened an important dialogue on how political views are treated by those who may disagree with them.

Ben Hatchett

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