It was “a plan by the Devil to have our kids committing suicide at an all-time high.” So said Kanye West, who recently declared, via Twitter, that he was running for president, on the “Birthday Party” ticket. It’s about the best explanation I’ve heard for the non-coronavirus that plagues us. There’s some serious good-and-evil combat going on, and neutrality isn’t a viable option. And yet, it can be legion.
“Reinstate in God’s state, in God’s country, the fear and love of God in all schools and organizations, and you chill the fear and love of everything else,” West told Randall Lane, the editor of Forbes, in an interview. “Removing God” leads to “murders in Chicago at an all-time high because the human beings working for the Devil removed God and prayer from the schools. That means more drugs, more murders, more suicide.”
Around the time he gave the interview, the Supreme Court was putting the finishing touches on its second ruling in the seemingly endless litigation that the Little Sisters of the Poor have gone through because of a needless mandate requiring them to participate in insurance coverage of contraception and abortion-inducing drugs that are against their religious beliefs. This violation of religious liberty should have been as clear as it gets. When this all went down in the Obama administration, a not-Catholic colleague walked into my office and asked why we weren’t marching on Washington, so direct a violation of the First Amendment it obviously was. But not so obvious to everyone. Certainly not to the Democratic Party, which has made itself an extension of the abortion industry.
It doesn’t have to be this way. It shouldn’t be this way. The Republican Party may be in a mess, but people opposed to abortion feel they have to vote for it because the other party becomes more extreme on abortion by the day, it seems. Take their presumptive presidential candidate, Joe Biden. He has vowed to make the Little Sisters pay. This is the same man who reportedly raised objections to the mandate behind closed doors, until Planned Parenthood put him in line. And then he was their faithful servant — even lying about the mandate during a subsequent vice-presidential debate, making it seem as if there was no conscience problem at all. Would that it were true, a near-decade later, as the Supreme Court only kicked the litigation back to district court!
So about Planned Parenthood, my candidate for a day, Kanye, says, “Planned Parenthoods have been placed inside cities by white supremacists to do the Devil’s work.” Those are words I’m grateful a more mainstream audience may hear and consider. “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world”: I pray these words of the Divine Mercy chaplet, often through tears, every time I pause at Margaret Sanger Square in Lower Manhattan, outside Planned Parenthood. Sanger was its eugenicist founder. While people may work there with the best of intentions, it’s a poison in our midst, fueled on death, contributing to a culture where mass deaths in nursing homes don’t even seem to faze us anymore. Black lives matter, as all lives matter. But we haven’t been acting these past decades — certainly not during the span of my entire life thus far — as if this is true. Violence is like the air we breathe — our entertainment, our solutions.
I don’t know if anyone knows whether Kanye West is serious about running for president, and I wouldn’t actually vote for him, but some of what he is saying is a good cultural nudge for reflection. What is the best use of freedom, and who is it that we are? Talk of humility is typically anathema in politics. (West doesn’t pretend to have all or even many specific policy answers, even in broad strokes. And there’s the fact that we’ve certainly heard him say that Jesus, not Kanye, is King.) It’s certainly not the way of the man currently occupying the White House. But now is the time for more than a little of it, of humility.
Why is it that the Little Sisters of the Poor weren’t even a major news story as they won in court again? Why is it that we didn’t march on Washington? To many, the idea that there are people of integrity who would give all to serve God is foreign, even implausible. Their years in the courts have been not about birth control but about the Beatitudes. “Let them Serve” was the slogan of support surrounding their Becket Fund for Religious Liberty litigation and education campaign. I’m not sure (and then some!) about some of what Kanye West has to say when he gets talking, but on serving God, he’s getting to some of the best of America, the best of life itself. If he gets rapping about the Little Sisters of the Poor, he might talk about love and joy and freedom in the humility of obedience to the Creator. And if we took the words seriously, we might just be in for the kind of renewal we’re in some serious need of.
This column is based on one available through Andrews McMeel Universal’s Newspaper Enterprise Association.