Did Hitler invent highways and the microphone? Kanye West’s claim, explained
Kanye West‘s trend of spewing off strange and increasingly problematic talking points continued this week with an appearance by the rapper on far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ Info Wars. The dangers of spewing antisemitism and hate seem to be lost on Ye, as seen in this and previous interviews. Ye has aligned himself with various characters in recent days, including the likes of white supremacist political commentator Nick Fuentes, who had his YouTube channel suspended in Feb. 2020 for violating their policies on hate speech.
Ye appeared on Info Wars to discuss his increasingly unstable position in the celebrity stardom, after months of concerning antisemitic remarks. Ye’s made a trend of being problematic over the last few years, as the formerly beloved rapper gradually makes the shift from merely eccentric into full-blown conspiracy nut, and his latest comments only dug his hole deeper.
Speaking with Jones — whose own conspiracy theories have already cost him nearly $1 billion — Ye responded to the host’s questions by making the extremely odd choice to praise Hitler. He told Jones, in a widely-shared clip of the interview, that he sees “good things about Hitler.” He went on to make several wild claims about the genocidal dictator, including that he invented microphones and the highway system. Is there any truth to these bold declarations, or is Ye simply spreading more misinformation?
Did Hitler really invent highways and the microphone?
The short, and (hopefully) obvious answer to this question is no. Hitler did not invent the microphone or highways, nor was his influence a major factor in either’s development. Keep in mind that Hitler didn’t invent anything for himself, and instead contributed to several inventions and breakthroughs via his Nazi empire. Nazi Germany had a hand in several major inventions, including the Volkswagen Beetle, according to World Atlas, but neither the microphone nor highways were among them.
Who invented the microphone?
The true inventor of the microphone is up to debate, with quite a few people clamoring to claim the honor. The very first microphones were extremely limited, and far more simplistic than the modern versions, and cropped up in stage productions as early as fifth-century BC. From there, sound amplifiers evolved, and gradually developed into the microphones we use today.
The widely-accepted credit for today’s microphones goes to several people, including David Edward Hughes, who developed the devices in England. Emile Berliner and Thomas Edison are credited with the microphone’s development in the United States in mid-1877. Edison ultimately secured the patent rights to the carbon microphone, following a lengthy legal battle, but history appears to indicate that Berliner was first to the idea.
All of this was taking place long, long before Hitler rose to power in Germany in the 1930s. He certainly used the microphone to his full advantage, but Hitler had no hand in its invention.
Who invented highways?
The same can be said for highways. The very first paved roads cropped up in Mesopotamia somewhere around 4000 BC, and we’ve slowly been expanding on the original idea in the centuries since.
Two Scottish engineers, Thomas Telford and John Loudon McAdam, are credited with the first modern roads, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, but they were far from the first to create permanent, layered roads intended for frequent travel. The first road to get a coat of tar on top, in hopes of hardening and enhancing its durability, was the Champs-Elysees in Paris, back in 1824.
The first national road — considered America’s first highway — to crop up in the United States also appeared years before Hitler came around. The National Road, which traverses through Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, was the first federally-funded road, according to Legends of America, and was completed in 1834.
Once again, this was long before Hitler was even born, let alone a man of influence. He had absolutely no hand in the development of either product, and Ye’s claims that he somehow did are entirely inaccurate. It’s still unclear why he chose to make these claims — rather than list any of the things Nazi Germany actually had a hand in creating — but Ye’s latest statements, like so many before, are entirely divorced from the truth.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, antisemitic incidents reached an “all-time high” in 2021, and 2022 is on a similar track. This includes assault, harassment, and vandalism. For more information on the dangers of antisemitic rhetoric and what you can do to stop it, see the American Jewish Committee’s Call to Action Against Antisemitism in America.