Kanye (Ye) West, seller of more than 100 million records and recipient of 24 Grammy awards, has set the pop culture world on fire. On October 8th, Ye tweeted that he would go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE,” igniting anti-semitism across the globe. What he meant to say rather than “death con 3” was “DEFCON 3,” a term used in the U.S. Military to establish a state of alert above normal readiness. This tweet failed logistically on multiple levels as not only did he use the wrong term (“death con”), but DEFCON 3 is not a remarkably high state of alert. The logistical issues with the tweet people have found somewhat comical, but what the effect it has had on the United States and even the world are not a laughing matter.
“I feel like he’s a very influential person,” said member of the Jewish Culture Club Levi Cooper. “A lot of people look up to him so what he has said has probably raised levels of anti-semitism and I just feel like what he has said has had a negative impact on our world, and it’s had a negative impact on himself as well.”
Ye followed up this tweet with claims of Jewish people having too much power in the business world as well as stating that a Jewish doctor misdiagnosed his mental illness. He also compared Planned Parenthood (performing abortions) to the Holocaust, and was spotted wearing a white lives matter shirt. This is not the first time Kanye has expressed radical anti-semetic and political views, but it has gained more attention than his previous outbursts.
“We are still in the holocaust. A jewish friend of mine said ‘Go visit the holocaust museum.’ And my response was, let’s visit our holocaust museum: Planned Parenthood,” said Ye.
Ye has encouraged violence against Jewish people which has led to him losing two of his biggest sponsors: Adidas and Balenciaga. While this will hardly put a dent in his billion dollar net worth, it shows moderate repercussions for his actions. While companies and the rest of the world have seen the horror in Ye’s comments, he remains unphased. In an attempt to provide justification for his comments, Ye made the claim that Black people are Jewish. This is essentially gibberish and only digs himself into a deeper hole.
“The funny thing is I can’t actually be antisemetic,” said Ye in an interview. “Black people are actually Jew also.”
Ye is not the only one who is involved in the controversy. Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving endorsed a documentary supporting anti-semitic conspiracy theories (such as Jews being secretly in control of the world). This resulted in his suspension from the NBA. While Irving has now publicly apologized, he has not denounced anti-semitism, which leaves his future uncertain. Growing anti-semitism is not just being supported by Ye, but by other people in the media spotlight.
While Ye is excusing himself from his actions, the rest of the world is not. Celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon, Kim Kardashian (Ye’s ex-wife), and Florence Pugh have all spoken out against him on social media. His twitter account was suspended which prevents him from further divisive tweets, but the damage has been done. With Ye doubling down on his opinion in interviews, another anti-semitic movement has begun taking form in football stadiums as well as highway overpasses. In a particular case in Los Angeles, demonstrators stood on a highway overpass with a sign saying “Kanye was right about the Jews.” They also raised their arms in a Nazi Salute. Incidents like this have popped up across the country in the weeks following Kanye’s statements. Even before Kanye’s actions, anti-semitism has been on the rise with a 34% increase in incidents from 2020 to 2021. Kanye’s comments are only helping to increase this number.
“L.A. is a city of belonging, not hate,” said mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti in a tweet. “We condemn this weekend’s anti-Semitic incidents. Jewish Angelenos should always feel safe. There is no place for discrimination or prejudice in Los Angeles. And we will never back down from the fight to expose and eliminate it.”
Mayor Garcetti is determined to continue fighting against prejudice in LA, but it is very difficult to dismantle a movement such as this, especially when it is country-wide.
Ye’s words and actions cannot be changed. He will have to deal with the consequences, and so will we. Standing up for what you personally believe in is all you can do. Next time a Kanye West song comes on, consider whether or not he is someone you would like to support.