Ye's online fan communities reckon with rapper's praise of Hitler in recent Infowars interview

Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, has left a sprawling fandom and network of dedicated creators in limbo after he praised Adolf Hitler and Nazis.

After Ye’s Dec. 1 appearance on far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ website Infowars, social media exploded with clips of the artist’s comments about Hitler. It prompted many of Ye’s supporters on Reddit, Twitter and Instagram to denounce him, with some distancing themselves entirely and others temporarily pausing posting. Some continue to post despite the backlash, in hopes that the fandom will not completely die out.

Moderators of the subreddit /r/WestSubEver, one of the biggest Reddit pages about Ye, told their 119,000 members in a post that they were “closing the sub for the foreseeable future.” The description for the subreddit has been changed to “Welcome to r/WestSubEver, formerly dedicated to news, theories, and discussions about disgraced artist & neo-nazi Kanye West.”

Reddit user CalmYe, a moderator for /r/WestSubEver who requested anonymity due to fears of harassment, said that the moderation team unanimously agreed to close the subreddit.

“After the Infowars interview, we were disgusted by his behavior,” CalmYe said. “We didn’t want to give a platform to what he’s saying anymore.”

After the Infowars interview, we were disgusted by his behavior. We didn’t want to give a platform to what he’s saying anymore.”

-Reddit user CalmYe, a moderator for /r/WestSubEver

Over the past two months, CalmYe said the community became “hell” due to a sudden influx of alt-right members joining the page and posting hate speech. The subreddit became increasingly difficult to moderate, and Ye’s praise of Hitler was the tipping point. 

CalmYe said the mods won’t be deleting /r/WestSubEver. They plan on keeping the page closed for at least a month. 

The team is currently planning to use the page to post occasional music news from Ye, with limitations on members’ comments. CalmYe said there are still fans who are interested in Ye’s music who have chosen to separate art from the artist.

The moderators decided to rebrand their group on the chat app Discord, and they started polling members on what they wanted as an alternative topic. CalmYe also said members started channels in Discord to educate each other on antisemitism and Holocaust facts.

CalmYe said most fans seem “disgusted” with Ye’s recent behavior, and this latest interview caused many to ditch the artist for good. CalmYe said it has been difficult to watch his community fall apart in recent days.

Ye watches the Givenchy show during Paris Fashion Week
Ye during Paris Fashion Week on Oct. 2.Jana Call me J/ / Abaca/Sipa via AP file

“We had a very tight knit community. … We had a lot of memes. We had a lot of, you know, regular users. We had, of course, the moderators, and it’s just kind of depressing,” he said.

Meanwhile, members of the /r/Kanye subreddit, which has over 712,000 members, appeared to debate their options. Some members called on moderators to “close the sub,” while others hoped there could be a way to save the community. 

On Friday, the subreddit was full of Taylor Swift memes and members posting about trading the Ye fandom for Swiftie status, a reference to Ye and Swift’s yearslong feud following the 2009 Video Music Awards. Others posted recommendations for educational materials about the Holocaust and stated the page should become a Holocaust remembrance subreddit.

Reddit user avayr44, a moderator for /r/Kanye, said there are no plans to close the subreddit. Avayr44, who requested anonymity due to fears of harassment, said the page would remain accessible for fans who want to process Ye’s recent behavior. 

“For a lot of people, this Reddit is a way to get closure with like-minded people who grew up with Kanye and are disappointed in his latest behavior,” he said. 

In regard to supporting the rapper, avayr44 said the decision to separate the art from the artist is a personal decision for each fan to make. The future of the subreddit is dependent on what the community wants, avayr44 said, and the mods will “respond accordingly.” 

On Twitter, Chris Lambert, co-host of the Ye-themed podcast “Watching the Throne,” said that the podcast and corresponding YouTube channel were ending following the Infowars interview. Previously, Lambert said on his website that “Watching the Throne” was the No. 1 Ye podcast, with more than 100,000 downloads a month. 

“This account will probably never tweet about Ye ever again. The podcast is done. The YouTube channel will be rebranded. Appreciate y’all for the support over the years. And for all continued support and connection,” Lambert tweeted. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Other Ye-focused creators have tried to steer their followings through the aftermath of the Infowars interview.

Emilie Hagen, a comedian who runs an Instagram page documenting Ye’s posts, said it’s been tricky to navigate Ye’s hard-right turn into politics. She started “kanyesposts,” an archive that reposts everything Ye posts on Instagram among other appearances and interviews, in February 2022. Her account has over 126,000 followers and is currently set to private.

“In the beginning it was a lot more fun because I was just documenting him calling Pete Davidson ‘Skete,’ and then we got into this new political territory and I’m like ‘OK, this is not what I signed up for,’” Hagen said. She called the week of Ye’s Infowars interview the “worst week yet.” 

More of NBC News’ coverage of Ye

Hagen hasn’t pivoted her page away from Ye yet, but said she has spent the days following his Infowars interview “fending off trolls, trying to keep the peace amongst a divided fanbase, and making disclaimers on the IG story to keep everyone calm.”

“I’m basically his unpaid publicist at this point,” she added. Hagen, who was a fan of Ye’s, said she isn’t sure his reputation will be able to recover. But she said she’s continuing her role as an archivist of his social media posts. The account’s bio says, “We do not endorse every opinion Ye presents.”

In recent months, brands and former collaborators have cut ties with Ye over his antisemitic remarks. Adidas and Gap both cited antisemitism in their statements about parting ways with Ye, while Balenciaga and Ye’s former agency CAA were reported to have dropped him after Ye made antisemitic posts on Instagram and Twitter in October.

Representatives for Ye did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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