Recently, Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, has notoriously gone on antisemitic tirades on social and other forms of media. In early October, Ye tweeted that he was going to go “death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE.” Shortly thereafter, his Twitter account was removed and he has since gone on multiple podcasts to explain himself. During his interview with Piers Morgan, he argued that his tweets stemmed from signing unfair record deals with “Jewish businessmen.” Going on, he claimed that he cannot be antisemitic due to he himself being Jewish and one of the “12 Lost Tribes of Hebrew.” The notion Ye speaks of is that the 12 Lost Tribes of Hebrew are actually Black, an idea coined by Black preachers during the Jim Crow era to counter the notion that Black Americans were an inferior race. Although the belief is not necessarily antisemitic, the concept has been co-opted by known hate groups. Since Ye’s statements, there has been a large fallout, with Ye losing almost all of his brand deals and affiliations. The statements themselves and the people who still choose to support Ye demonstrate, at best, tolerance for casual antisemitism and, at worst, support for it, in the US. Supporters of Ye have used the First Amendment to argue that his viewpoints are protected by Freedom of Speech and that cancel culture is censoring viewpoints.What they refuse to understand is the breadth of what Ye is stating. People are too slow to realize that antisemitism is another form of racism, and that a man as influential as Ye saying these things is a call to action for some. Just recently, an antisemitic hate group hung a banner over a freeway in Los Angeles that stated “Kanye is right” and proceeded to make a Nazi salute gesture.
The question still stands as to whether or not this rise in antisemitism will continue to worsen, as NBA player Kyrie Irving recently shared an antisemitic film that denies the Holocaust and affirms the idea that Black Americans are Jewish, echoing Ye’s earlier claims. Irving initially refused to explicitly deny that he was antisemitic, and, though he has since apologized, he remains suspended from the league. Once again though, throughout social media comment sections people rally to Irving’s side, arguing that people should be allowed to have their own opinions. These people fail to realize the difference between differing views and hurtful ones. Promoting a film that denies the Holocaust continues to promulgate false and antisemitic narratives. This not only perpetuates revisionist and debunked histories, but is profoundly insulting to and hurtful for Jewish communities, who are already the targets of increasing hate crimes today.
Ye stated that the reasoning for his Twitter statement was that he wants the Jewish population to feel how he feels as a Black man facing racism. He directly stated during his interview with Piers Morgan “God forbid one comment could cause people to feel any of my pain I’ve felt for years.” In so doing, Ye creates a false dichotomy, leveling the racism experienced by Black communities as justification for antisemitic viewpoints. Continuing on his tangent, Ye also makes an analogy that another reason for his hateful comments was that when one Black person gets pulled over, every Black person in the car with him goes to jail too, but that doesn’t happen to Jewish people. Similarly, this completely disregards the broader notion that is about a police system created to benefit white people at the expense of Black people. Once again, he misses the mark and decides to further harm an already oppressed community instead of questioning the broader systems of inequality that have shaped his hardships.
Ye has had a history of mental health issues, with the cover for his album “Ye” stating: “I hate being Bi-Polar its awesome.” But mental health cannot be an excuse for his actions. Instead of using his platform as a major influence in popular culture to advocate for building communities, Ye has chosen to use it to advocate hate and intolerance. While we should be concerned about the views Ye has espoused, just as worrisome is the level of support he has seen. Hatred and bigotry, in any form, cannot go unchallenged.
Griffin Mckinney is a CHGS undergraduate student staff member.