New York: American rapper Kanye West’s chaotic launch of his unlikely campaign to overthrow Donald Trump in the November presidential election has sparked anger, mental health concerns, and questions about whether he’s running seriously.
Wearing a bulletproof jacket marked “security,” West burst into tears during a labyrinthine speech in Charleston, South Carolina on Sunday, which was supposed to start his gamble at the White House.
Instead, controversial comments about renowned American abolitionist Harriet Tubman angered attendees, sparked online contempt, and left political analysts scratching their heads over the true intentions of the mercurial musician.
For Jeffrey McCune, who teaches a course on West at the University of Washington in St. Louis, the wild nature of the event was typical of the hip-hop star.
“All things Kanye are impulsive. I have never been a fan of ‘throw in the towel’ political entries. However, this is Kanye’s brand entirely,” he told AFP.
With “2020” shaved on his head, West drifted between various issues during the hour-long complaint, including the claim that he had wanted his wife, Kim Kardashian, to abort.
But it was his comment that “Harriet Tubman never really freed slaves, she just made slaves work for other white people,” which grabbed most headlines.
West “has gone mad,” tweeted historian Kate Clifford Larson, author of “Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of a American Hero.”
“HARRIET TUBMAN RELEASED enslaved people. You, Mr. West, are an asshole and not worthy of saying Tubman’s name. You have not released anyone,” Larson wrote.
Tubman is known for helping to free dozens of black people from slavery by using a network of activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She fought for the Union in the Civil War, too.
West also said that he had wanted to abort his wife when she was pregnant with North, their oldest daughter. Then he revealed that his father had also wanted to abort him.
“My dad wanted to abort me. My mom saved my life. There would have been no Kanye West because my dad was too busy,” West said, crying.
Later he yelled, “I almost killed my daughter! I almost killed my daughter!”
– ´Provocateur´ –
West’s speech, whose clips went viral on social media, sparked bewilderment as well as concern for the musician, who has spoken about his struggles with bipolar disorder.
The event also offered little information on the policies it could put forward, although it proposed that “everyone with a baby gets a million dollars.”
West has also talked about prison reform in the past.
The 43-year-old man caused more confusion Monday night by posting a series of cryptic tweets, including one accusing his wife of trying to get him sent to a hospital.
“Kim was trying to fly to Wyoming with a doctor to lock me up like in the movie Get Out because I cried for saving my daughters’ lives yesterday,” she wrote, referring to the 2017 thriller.
The tweets were later removed.
West raised his eyebrows on July 4 when he announced on Twitter that he would challenge Trump.
He has offered virtually no details about his campaign, but the hip-hop star, who sported a famous “Make America Great Again” cap at a 2018 Oval Office meeting with Trump, said he no longer supports the president.
Reports began circulating in the US media last week that West had dropped out of the race.
The multi-state deadline for being on the presidential ballot was missed, but it’s on the Oklahoma ballot.
West needed to collect 10,000 signatures before noon Monday to appear on the South Carolina ballot.
“Kanye West did not file a petition,” a spokesman for the state electoral commission told AFP.
Analysts are reluctant to dismiss West entirely, aware that Trump’s 2016 career was not considered particularly serious until he won the Republican nomination.
They say West doesn’t have to win the race to influence it.
“Kanye’s personal resources and visibility, and his track record of generating media attention for himself, could be the wild card in enough places to have an impact on the race, even if he only appears on the ballot in some key states” . said Robert Yoon, an election specialist at the University of Michigan.
McCune says that while he believes West has “a lot of brilliant ideas,” he “will be a minor player on the field, if he has one.”
He describes West, who will release a new album this week, as “a performance artist” who may be viewing his career as another show.
“After all, Kanye being provocative in many ways has made him more profitable.”