Kanye West’s “brazen” and “unforgiving” anti-Semitic rhetoric

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As the United States increasingly grapples with racist and bigoted rhetoric entering the mainstream, accompanied by the rise hate crimesextremism, as a rule, came from the sidelines of political life.

But over the past few weeks, the series anti-Semitic and the conspiracy-laden remarks came not from the dark corners of the Internet, but from one of America’s most famous rap artists and fashion icons: Kanye West.

Experts point out that the ugly, unvarnished nature of the comments of West, who is now called E, creates problems in the fight against hate.

Brian Levine, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State San Bernardino, said it’s unusual and deeply troubling for such vitriolic hate speech to come from a celebrity of West’s caliber — and it carries the risk of emboldening others because he fame lends credibility to his ideas.

West’s words carry “a lot of weight” because of “how famous he is and how strong the language is,” Levine said. “It’s not a subtle type of bigotry … it’s more brazen, more brutal and obscene.”

There is a west faced with increased dropout from his recent hateful comments and controversial statements, including losing him talent agency on Monday. Addias announced on Tuesday that it was also ending the partnership.

West caused widespread condemnation in recent weeks following comments on the Internet and in television interviews spewing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. In his most outrageous post, for which he access is lost on his Twitter and Instagram accounts, West said he would “Tread to the death against the Jewish people.”

“There’s real hurt in what he’s saying and doing,” said Melina Abdullah, a professor of pan-African studies at Cal State University, Los Angeles and co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter. “We’ve already seen the build-up [racist threats] as a result of its positioning.’

Protesters this weekend hung over the 405 Freeway a sign who said, “Kanye’s right about the Jews,” while giving a Nazi salute, according to images from local organizers and general social media posts. This happened after several areas of Los Angeles anti-Semitic leaflets were thrown at door sills and windscreens, which police said they were investigating.

After threatening violence against Jews on social media, West did additional anti-Semitic remarks in Tucker Carlson’s Fox News interview. In unreleased footage analyzed and detailed by Vice Newshe told the Fox News host that Planned Parenthood was founded “to control the Jewish population,” among other rambling conspiracies.

Earlier this month, West appeared on the popular rap podcast Drink Champs, where he pushed other anti-Semitic ideas, including claims that Jews control the media and “own the black voice.” He also claimed, falsely, that George Floyd died of a fentanyl overdose when policeman’s knee pressure on Floyd’s neck effectively killed him.

West also faced criticism for wearing it a “White Lives Matter” shirt at his YZY show during Paris Fashion Week in early October, a statement the Anti-Defamation League called a “white supremacy phrase.”

It’s far from clear how many people take West’s comments seriously or are inspired by them. Music struggled with mental health problems and has made outlandish claims in the past, including promises in 2020 he ran for president.

Abdullah said West’s recent comments raise concerns that he is a black man who opposes black rights groups and widespread black anxieties that have made him a sought-after figure among right-wing, extremist and racist voices.

“Anytime you have people who happen to be black,” Abdullah said, “going against the interests of black people, it emboldens non-black people to be bolder in their anti-blackness.”

Embracing the West by groups and people who espouse racist ideas is not a new strategy, but one that has been used repeatedly by supremacist groups, Abdullah said.

“White supremacy has always looked for black faces to put on,” she said. “And there have always been black people who are descriptively black who have put their very selfish pursuits of either feeding their egos or lining their pockets or both above the interests of the collective.”

West’s popularity could make it difficult to confront or address the issue, Abdullah said, even for nationwide movements like Black Lives Matter, which condemned his comments.

“We have a significant following and significant name recognition that doesn’t even compare to what Kanye West has,” she said.

Rabbi Noah Farkas, President and CEO Jewish Federation of Los Angelesnoted that West has more fans on social media than the entire Jewish population of the entire world, so the rapper’s shameless comments — along with other displays of anti-Semitism and hate — have left Los Angeles Jews “on edge.”

“We know from all the research that hate speech leads to hateful actions,” Farkas said. “When influential people like Kanye West have the opportunity to say what they say and it’s not controlled, … it normalizes the experience of hate.”

Levin said the normalization of such bigotry has statistically led to more crimes targeting certain groups.

“We’re seeing this correlation between these kinds of statements on the Internet and then their impact in actual actions on the streets,” Levin said. “These horrible anti-Semitic hate groups will come out like cockroaches [from] under a rock, whenever they have an opportunity to further exploit it.’

Levin noted the growing concern with fanaticism in Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial raceafter the Republican candidate made comments about his opponent’s Jewish education that some called an anti-Semitic dog whistle.

Former President Trump’s rhetoric about the origin of the coronavirus in China has been attributed by some activists and others the recent rise in anti-Asian hatred across the USA

Levin is also concerned that such rhetoric will only intensify as the contentious midterm elections approach, which he says has historically occurred around elections.

“When a celebrity influencer engages in anti-Semitic rhetoric, that’s already bad,” Levin said. “But the fact that it’s happening in these conflicted election times is even worse.”

The West’s position in the music and fashion industries risks dragging historically marginalized and anti-Semitic ideas into the mainstream, said Oren Segal, vice president of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.

“The lifeblood of extremists is the attention they can get,” Segal said. “So the ability to use a celebrity statement is gold for extremists.”

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