On the cover of the February 9 Rolling Stone magazine was a picture of hip-hop artist Kanye West wearing a crown of thorns with “blood” streaming down his face. The article, “The Passion of Kanye West,” revealed the Grammy winner’s personal reflections on a range of subjects.
Our official take on this issue caught many in the media off-guard. Here is what Bill Donohue said:
“At first glance, it appears that both Kanye West and Rolling Stone are equally culpable of misappropriating Catholic iconography. But on closer inspection, it looks like Rolling Stone deserves the lion’s share of the blame.
“West is a young rapper who is hard to peg. On the one hand, he eschews gangsta rap and likes to sing lyrics like, ‘They say you can rap about anything except Jesus/That means guns, sex, lies, videotapes/But if I talk about God, my record won’t get played.’ On the other hand, he is capable of saying plainly foolish things, e.g., the government is responsible for the spread of AIDS among blacks and gays.
“If it is true that West is a morally confused black young man, it is also true that Rolling Stone is staffed by morally challenged white veterans: they are to West what white boxing agents in the 20th century were to black boxers—rip-off artists. It is not for nothing that West poses as a Christ-like figure on a magazine geared to whites. To top it off, the white readership is bound to get a kick out of knowing that the ‘The Passion of Kanye West’ is the rapper’s self-confessed passion for pornography.
“Is Rolling Stone as racist as it is anti-Catholic? Hard to say, but one thing’s for sure: it will only be offended by the former charge.”
After Donohue’s comments were picked up by the media, none other than Howard Stern chimed in on the subject. He basically agreed with Donohue’s charge of racism: in 1997, a picture of Stern that was almost identical to the one depicting West as Jesus was submitted to Rolling Stone for a cover shot, but they rejected it. Why, then, did the magazine find West as a Christ-like figure acceptable, but not Stern?
CNN gave Donohue plenty of air time to voice his position, as did other media outlets.