OPINON: We need to hold Kanye West accountable


Photo credit/ Jennifer Flynn

Kanye West, who now legally goes by the name “Ye,” has been in the news a lot lately. Not for the promotion of a new album or clothing line, but for multiple antisemitic remarks.

The slew of hateful remarks started on Twitter in October when Ye tweeted that he was “going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE [sic].” He went on to further argue that he could not be antisemitic because he is Black. The tweet has since been deleted for violating Twitter community guidelines and his account was locked.

“Death con 3” refers to the Defense Readiness Condition (DEFCON), a level of the United States Armed Forces defense response. Ye’s remark suggests that he was preparing to receive some sort of threat from Jewish people, or that he was going to inflict some sort of threat on them.

A week later, Ye appeared on the podcast Drink Champs, a show that “prides itself on its ability to allow a free flow of ideas.” On the show, Ye made various controversial comments about Jewish people in the music industry. Ye also made harmful remarks on the show regarding the death of George Floyd.

The episode has since been taken down but can still be found on a YouTube channel called “Kanye West Archives and Media.” It’s important to note as well that the episode was released and only after receiving backlash was it taken down. This means that the producers/editors had originally approved such messaging.

Ye has also been given a platform on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” where recently released footage shows unaired segments of the interview where he made a comment about his children learning about Hanukkah and alluded to an antisemitic trope that Jews control the financial system.

By providing Ye with a platform, Fox essentially excuses his hateful behavior and provides him with an opportunity to influence even more people.

Ye’s comments are incredibly dangerous because they have inspired other antisemitic messages.

On Oct. 22, an antisemitic hate group hung a banner over a Los Angeles freeway that read “Kanye is right about the Jews.” A group of people standing behind the banner raised their arms in a Nazi salute. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre condemned the banner and called it “disgusting.”

On Oct. 29, the words “Kanye is right about the Jews” were projected on the TIAA Bank Field Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida, during a college football game. The same message was projected on an office building in Jacksonville. The mayor of Jacksonville has condemned the message, but the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office stated that the perpetrators were protected under the First Amendment.

Ye has over 31 million followers on Twitter. His words have the potential to inspire others to spew hateful messages, or even incite violence.

A study by the Anti-Defamation League found that antisemitic motivated assault increased by 167 percent in 2021.

In a recent interview with NPR, Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, emphasized the importance of holding people accountable when they make hateful comments.

“Call out hate when you hear it, whether it’s directed at Jewish people, or, by the way, anyone else,” said Greenblatt.

Several companies have ended their relationships with West including Adidas, Gap, Balenciaga, JPMorgan Chase, the Creative Artists Agency and Entertainment Agency MRC.

This is certainly a step in the right direction, but it is not enough.

The antisemitic violence during the Holocaust was preceded by antisemitic rhetoric from people who had platforms and power. Part of the reason why Nazis rose to power is because of society’s indifference to their antisemitic agenda. If we don’t learn from history, we could repeat it.

We must hold anyone who partakes in this discrimination accountable.

You can do your part in condemning Ye’s actions by boycotting his music, his clothing brand, and by unfollowing him on social media.

It’s important to call out any type of hate speech when you encounter it. By holding people accountable for their actions and by condemning hate, we work to make the world a more inclusive, equitable place for all.

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