Marc Lamont Hill, a CNN contributor and professor of African-American studies, on Wednesday schooled ardent Donald Trump supporter Paris Dennard over his bogus claim that critics of Kanye West don’t think he has a right to put out messages in favor of the president.
Lamont Hill joined host Don Lemon to discuss the friendly tweets shared between Trump and West on Wednesday—which included the rapper posting a selfie in a red “Make America Great Again” cap and claiming he and the president “are both dragon energy.”
“Remember when Kanye West said, out loud, ‘George Bush doesn’t care about black people?’” Lemon asked. “Well, today Kanye West has a lot of people wondering if he cares about black people.”
Lemon asked Lamont Hill why West loves Donald Trump. Lamont Hill reminded women that previously West has said he would have voted for Trump in the 2016 election.
“He’s been shouting out Donald Trump for a long time,” Lamont Hill said. “I think it’s weird.”
Lamont Hill called it “disappointing” to see West “go from someone who had the courage to stand up and say ‘George Bush doesn’t care about black people,’ which was a courageous moment of protection and defense for black people and vulnerable people in general” to supporting someone whose campaign was steeped in “white supremacy, white nationalism.”
“People have a right to believe what they want,” Lamont Hill said. “Kanye has a right to believe what he wants. We have a right to hold him accountable for it. Because he’s made so much money off vulnerable people, in the sense that he makes music for black people, he makes music for brown people, he makes music that poor people love, to then defend the president and to express love for a president whose policies operate against those interests to me is just disappointing. Kanye has a right to do it. I just don’t agree with it.”
Turning to West’s live TV assertion that former president Bush “doesn’t care about black people,” Lemon asked Dennard whether West believes Trump cares about black people.
Dennard, who worked for Bush, described that moment as “a big deal to people who knew and know George W. Bush’s heart,” before complaining “it’s offensive” to be called racist “especially when you know your heart and know what you’ve tried to do.”
“I haven’t liked Kanye West since he said that about President Bush and I don’t like his music now, but I will defend Kanye West—his right—to articulate his opinion on politics,” Dennard declared before adding that anyone who supports Trump is “automatically labeled a racist.”
“Can we elevate this conversation because that’s not what it’s really about?” Lemon asked.
“It’s about the fact that Kanye West comes out and says something in support of this president, Chance the Rapper said something in support of this president, and all of a sudden Kanye loses millions of Twitter followers!” Dennard shot back.
“You’re saying Kanye West has a right to say what he wants about Donald Trump,” Lamont Hill replied. “I agree. I don’t think there’s a large movement of people saying he doesn’t have the right to say this. Of course he has free speech.”
“He shouldn’t be demonized for it, is what I should say,” Dennard insisted.
After a back-and-forth, Lamont Hill explained why West isn’t being demonized “as much as people are challenging him on his perspective.”
“I think we do have a right to do that as well,” Lamont Hill said. “And I think we do have a right to unfollow people in the same way you said you don’t buy Kanye stuff anymore after what he said about George Bush. People have a right to not mess with Kanye anymore after what he said about Trump. I don’t think this a Democrat or Republican thing.”
Lamont Hill went on to describe concerns over West’s mental state “reasonable,” before clarifying that he doesn’t “think [West’s] mental health is in question because he supported Donald Trump.”
“In that case there’s 50 million people whose mental health should be in check.” Lamont Hill said.
“That little snippet! That snippet!” Dennard protested.
“I’m saying you’re not crazy for voting for Donald Trump because if that were true all the 50 million Americans who did were crazy!” Lamont Hill said. “I’m saying the opposite. I’m saying they’re not crazy.”