During an interview with Australia’s Sky NewsAkon was asked why he continued to support West amid a months-long spate of controversial, racially insensitive comments.
“I’m showing support for opinion,” he replied. “And I think people will always have a certain opinion. And I think the moment we get to the place where we open our minds to other people’s opinion, it doesn’t allow us to learn from each other better knowing, better knowing our thinking and, more than anything else, better knowing our movements.
“And I think sometimes we prejudge people based on the way we can see or look at things,” Akon continued. “I think sometimes we just have to open our minds, let things play out and understand the situation better so we have a better solution.”
He went on to add that he would continue to support Kanye West’s right to believe what he wants until the two are able to have a conversation, at which point he would take the opportunity to explain why he disagrees .
“And then he might come back and say, ‘You know what, you’re right.’ Or he might come back and say, well, I’m not,” Akon explained. “At that point, it’s my job to understand why he sees it that way. So I think conversation and communication is always key. But sometimes we block it out and you can never get anywhere if you don’t communicate.”
Akon later shared the interview — in which he suggested he didn’t find Ye’s latest comments offensive because they don’t affect him personally.
I clearly do not agree with Kanye’s remarks about Hitler. I’m just saying that everyone should be entitled to their own opinion. This does not mean that we will always agree pic.twitter.com/znCunyCIb0
— AKON (@Akon) 3 December 2022
“I clearly do not agree with Kanye’s remarks about Hitler,” Akon tweeted. “I’m just saying that everyone should have the right to their own opinion. That doesn’t mean we’ll always agree.”
The tweet — which at press time had been shared close to 1,500 times and liked by close to 9,000 Twitter users — was met with backlash from several on the platform, who wondered where Akon would draw the line and urged the singer to consider the consequences of hate talk.
You missed the part when you said Kanye’s comments don’t bother you because they don’t affect you. You normalize antisemitism by calling it a matter of opinion. Saying you love Hitler and deny the Holocaust is not an opinion. It is hate speech. Why not condemn Kanye?
— Liv Marks (@OliviaLilyMarks) 4 December 2022
Assuming you have no problem with the KKK voicing their opinions?
— Lance Forman (@LanceForman) 4 December 2022
That you can defend Kanye’s opinion and imply that Hitler was a great guy is offensive. It is shocking to normalize opinion and ignore these holocaust deaths. You definitely see the difference between opinion and fact.
— Lccharles (@Lccharles2) 3 December 2022
Others pointed out that just as Akon believes in Kanye West’s right to an opinion, those who take offense to his recent statements have the right to condemn Ye’s words.
He is entitled to his opinion. And people have a right to shun him for that opinion. And companies have the right to terminate contracts or refuse to work with him. He will not be arrested. He has freedom of speech, but freedom of speech does not protect you from social consequences.
— Rachel Murphy Azzara – Mastadon @email@example.com (@RachelAzzara) 4 December 2022
Akon’s comments arrived just days after Kanye West was banned from Twitter for the second time after he shared a photo of a swastika inside the Star of David, a symbol of the Jewish faith. Despite considering himself a “free speech absolute”, Twitter owner Elon Musk announced that Yes’s tweet violated company policies.
“I tried my best,” Musk tweeted in response to a fan who asked him to “fix” Kanye. “Despite that, he again violated our rule against incitement to violence. The account will be suspended.”
The tweet and suspension followed Kanye West’s recent controversial interviewDuring which InfoWars host Alex Jones asked him to elaborate on his recent string of anti-Semitic claims and how those claims inaccurately painted Kanye as a Nazi. “You’re not Hitler, you’re not a Nazi, you don’t deserve to be called that and demonized,” Jones said.
“Well, I see good things about Hitler too,” Kanye replied. “I love everybody, and Jews won’t tell me, you can love us, and you can love what we’re doing to you with the contracts, and you can love what we’re pushing with the pornography, and this guy who invented freeways, who invented the very microphone I use as a musician, you can’t say out loud that this person has ever done anything good, and I’m done with that.”
He continued: “I’m done with classification. Every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler.”