OPINION: Ye: The Anti-Semite of the Year

Hannah Markov, Editor-in-Chief

If you’ve even remotely kept up with pop culture news, then you’ve heard about American rapper Kanye West’s recent tweets and remarks about the Jewish community. To put it bluntly, Ye has spent the past few weeks running an aggressively anti-Semitic tirade against what has often been dubbed “the world’s oldest hated group”–- the Jewish people. Examples from this tirade include stating central ideas from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a widely distributed and fabricated anti-Semitic text, and referring to Planned Parenthood as “our Holocaust museum”. Although Ye has made similarly bigoted comments in the past, he’s now somehow pulled through as the finalist in StopAntisemitism.org’s infamous “Anti-Semite of the Year” contest. Insert “Mazel Tov antonym” here.

Many stars like Antonio Brown, Akon and Jake Shields, among others, came to his defense, claiming that the rapper is strongly affected and controlled by his bipolar disorder, and that his tweets–the statement “I’m going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE”, the picture that combined the star of David with the Nazi swastica and all of his comments pulling from Louis Farrakhan and Alex Jone’s anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, among others–should therefore be excused. Yes, Ye has been officially diagnosed with serious mental health issues, but no health difficulties or disorders can excuse a man’s conscious decision to promote dangerous, violence-promoting, anti-Semitic bullshit to a Twitter following that is over twice the size of the world’s Jewish population.

Moreover, anti-Semitism and white supremacy go hand-in-hand. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), even though Judaism itself is not a race, the goal of anti-Semitic hate groups is to racialize the Jewish people and portray them as the puppeteers behind a political and economic scheme to subvert and overthrow white people, also known as the “Great Replacement Theory.” Additionally, although this may come as a surprise, anti-Semitism in the 1900s wasn’t contained to just Nazi Germany. In the United States, Jews suffered from university admission quotas, anti-Semitic homeowner association rules and public segregation policies that, although paler in comparison with those restricting people of color, still echoed the profuse racist values of the American 20th century.

Kanye West.
Kanye West. (David Shankbone, Wikimedia)

Therefore, if you support anti-Semitism, you support white supremacy. If you support Ye’s comments on Nazism and the Jewish people, you, by relation, support Nazism. If you support anti-Jewish rhetoric, you support the very same issue that has plagued this and most other countries for hundreds of years: racism.

Ye’s reckless, narrow-minded remarks come as an elementary contribution to the already significant issue of anti-Semitism in the United States, which, according to the Anti Defamation League (ADL), hit a record high in 2021. The ADL, which monitors anti-Semitic efforts nationwide, reported 2,717 incidents last year–a 34% rise from the year before. If combined with the dark figure, however, this number would likely be much higher than it already is. 

Keep in mind, too, that these incidents are not occurring from simply one side of the political spectrum–both the conservative and democratic parties have regularly purported anti-Semitic tropes, whether that be controlling the media, drinking the blood of children or any other antiquated nonsense having to do with the Jewish people.

And now comes the call to action. Stop listening to Ye’s music. Stop buying his merchandise. Stop interacting with his remaining social media accounts. Just like you would with any other artist or businessman that has clearly indicated their support for the “White Lives Matter” movement, stop indicating to Ye that he has anyone’s support, because that will just encourage him to continue his minacious behavior. When we say that “tolerating racism is racism,” this doesn’t just magically exclude people who make music that you like.

What I will also ask for, although I shouldn’t have to, is that people start actually paying attention to the Jewish community. There’s not a lot of us, but we’re there. We’re there, and we have thoughts and feelings and opinions on all of the dangerous, harm-provoking anti-Semitic propaganda thrown around at us from all sides, everywhere. Don’t just hear us–listen. Truly try to understand our position as the world’s oldest hated group, as well as our need for constant safety and validation. Then, just maybe, will you understand why what to you appears to be seemingly miniscule commentary on the part of an already controversial musician can eventually lead down a slippery slope of institutionalized intolerance that our grandparents know all too well.