It was not quite like Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass in the White House yesterday. But President Trump’s and Kanye West’s meeting in the Oval Office may well impact the course of American history in signficant ways.
MSM predictably lashed Kanye with their words: They called him “token negro,” “attention whore,” “bonkers” and “crazy.” They said Kanye's support of President Trump would ruin his career--while they themselves were seeing to just that.
A CNN contributor reacted in soundbite readiness: "Kanye West is what happens when Negroes don’t read." The contributor's co-panelists chuckled in response, obviously satisfied with the touché against Kanye and self-satisfied with the breadth and depth of their own reading.
While Kanye's words were meandering and bleep-worthy at times, undeniably powerful themes that affect the well-being, indeed the life or death, of individuals and families for upcoming generations emerged.
Kanye broached prison reform, undoing the damage wrought on the family by the welfare system, the return of Fathers to black households, the rehabilitation of Chicago and other formerly great middle American cities, the right to bear arms.
Kanye's plans for these projects are in some historic ways arguably comparable to Douglass' plan for helping slaves escape from rebel states presented to President Lincoln in 1864.
What also emerged was Kanye's resistence to journalists' demands for "soundbites." When reporters asked questions, Kanye said: “I don’t answer questions that are simple soundbites. You are tasting a fine wine, it has multiple notes to it,” he said.
Lincoln and Douglass would well have agreed with Kanye’s sentiment. Both were men capable of mobilizing words into the powerful eloquence of The Gettysburg Address and The Hypocrisy of American Slavery. They were not men of soundbites although they were masters of succinct.
Neither is the great Jim Brown, considered to be the greatest football player of all time, a man of soundbites. Brown was also present at the meeting in the Oval Office. He sat quietly at Kanye's side. But his very presence spoke a billion words.