Ye, formerly named Kanye West, has been circulating in the news again, but not because of a new album or clothing line drop. No — he is spearheading an escalating crusade of antisemitism across our nation.
It started with bigoted antisemitic posts on his Instagram, after which Ye’s account was suspended. He then turned to Twitter for the first time in years to catapult his hateful agenda. Although it has since been removed, he tweeted a promise to bring forth a violent “death con 3 to JEWISH PEOPLE.” This is a reference to DEFCON, which is a system for U.S. Armed Forces defense readiness. Ye has over twice the amount of followers on his Twitter (32.2 million) than the entire Jewish population — 15.3 million.
Alarmingly, as Ye’s tweets gained traction across the globe, his comment section was inundated with supporters reinforcing his beliefs. White supremacists began adopting his commentary shortly after, displaying the phrase “Kanye is right about the Jews” across buildings, high-traffic intersections, and even college sporting events. These people have been waiting in the wings for figures like Ye to set the stage for them.
Unfaltering in his derogatory views, Ye went on a myriad of antisemitic rants in interviews and public appearances, spouting tropes that demonize Jews as the controlling force corrupting the financial system, medical field, and music industry.
Ye only issued an apology once the situation hit his pockets; Several corporations have ended their relationships with him, including Adidas, Gap, Balenciaga, JPMorgan Chase, the Creative Artists Agency, and Entertainment Agency MRC. But despite his superficial apology, he exhibits no real remorse. Instead, he’s often seen chuckling as he makes his discriminatory remarks on camera.
Celebrities like Ye are making a mockery of the grimly persistent prejudice and trauma that Jewish people face when freely expressing their identity. But sadly, Ye's discriminatory messaging can’t and won’t stop so long as the public continues to invigorate him as a harmful mouthpiece.
Antisemitic incidents reached an all-time high in 2021 in the U.S. since recording started in 1979. This year, antisemitic discourse has only proliferated in politics and the public domain. “Empirically, something is different. The level of public animosity towards Jews is higher than it’s been in recent memory,” CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, declared. Such an atmosphere is the product of compounding factors including a white supremacist vision of America and big-name media misinformation, exacerbated by enthralled citizens.
In an effort to educate Ye, the Holocaust Museum of LA invited him on a private tour. Instead, he arrogantly refused, responding that he would rather tour Planned Parenthood, which he describes as a conspiracy run by Jewish doctors. Immediately after, the LA Holocaust Museum was flooded with threats. Beth Kean, CEO of the Holocaust Museum LA noted, “There's always been threats, there's always been antisemitism. But it feels like an epidemic right now." And it is. Those idolizing Ye are following his lead to the detriment of an entire minority population.
Following Ye’s footsteps, NBA’s Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving tweeted a link to a film titled “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which the American Jewish Committee has condemned as displaying “multiple antisemitic tropes.” As of these past two weeks, the book version of the documentary Irving promoted has been at the top of the charts, now ranking 4th in Amazon’s “Top 20 Most Sold and Most Read Books of the Week.” This is the first time this book has been featured on this list, and it is entirely due to Irving’s publicity.
Parallel to Ye’s actions, Irving’s contribution to the onslaught of antisemitism in our nation is more damaging than one might think — people are listening to him; they are spending their money on the despicable material he posted, and brainwashing themselves with its violent propaganda.
Jews are fearful for their safety amid the rise in attacks. And by continuing to sell such works, Amazon is committing a hate crime itself.
Often, people’s parasocial relationships with celebrities shield figures from criticism that holds them responsible. This is especially true with regards to acts of antisemitism which are frequently swept under the rug. Individuals have a significant role to play in choosing whether to reinforce their idols’ hateful beliefs or to to hold them accountable for their actions instead. The people you support are a direct reflection of your own values; we must prioritize morality and character above all else.
Stardom doesn’t overpower responsibility. Although Irving may be a notable basketball player, he is a human, too, and must reap the consequences of his actions. His fame does not set him above human decency, and the same applies to Ye. Ye’s mental health struggles and emotionally-charged outbursts do not exonerate him from perpetuating antisemitic stereotypes and narratives that were spread in 1930s Germany — conspiracies that lead to the death of over six million Jews.
Ye confirmed his undying fascination with the evil tyrant Adolf Hitler in his detestable admiration saying “I like Hitler” in an interview with Alex Jones. Granting air time to a self-proclaimed neo-nazi creates more nazis, a viscerally terrifying development for all Jews. The same night, he was suspended after promoting his 2024 presidential campaign with a symbol depicting a swastika inside the Star of David. Anyone continuing to defend his outright bigotry emboldens antisemitism and incites violence.
The evidence is loud and clear: He is not a misunderstood genius. Ye must be denounced by every corner, and his platform abandoned. If it has become socially acceptable to disseminate any and all forms of hatred, we need to reevaluate our values.
Antisemitism is aggravated by public indifference to those utilizing their profound platforms for oppression. This is exactly how Nazis rose to power, as antisemitic rhetoric preceded their grand plan, “The Final Solution,” to eradicate Jews from the face of the Earth. Let’s not repeat history. This is how genocide begins.
The bottom line is this: Unlike the average person, Ye and Irving have immense reach and visibility, and so their antisemitism yields greater suppressive weight, which enables obscene violence and dehumanization. This is not a warning; it’s a grave emergency. We cannot allow their comments to pass.
We need allyship. And we need to channel our energy to those who actually merit it. Stop placing celebrities on a pedestal that immorally exempts them from high standards of humanity — antisemitism, and all acts of hate for that matter, must be taken seriously.
Hostility towards Jews continues around the world even today, perpetuating a formidable, historic trend of antisemitism. And through his actions in recent weeks, Ye has effectively made himself the posterboy of a new outbreak of antisemitism in America, one which he obstinately refuses to acknowledge as antisemitic.
Although Penn has one of the largest Jewish populations across college campuses nationwide, Penn has yet to condemn Ye’s actions, let alone address the subsequent slew of antisemitism surging throughout the country.
Silence in this situation is a disrespectful diminishment of the brutal reality of the abuse.
Irving is “itching to get back on the [basketball] floor” now, all while Jews are itching for a sense of safety and support.
Companies and figures must be held to ethical standards; we cannot continue to uphold the platforms of those who partake in immoral and discriminatory acts that only divide us further. By condemning pure hatred, we can foster a world of inclusivity and equity for all people and repair the world with Tikkun Olam.
RIANE LUMER is a College junior studying political science and journalistic writing from Huntingdon Valley, P.A. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.