July 20, 2024
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A Swastika Runs Through It

Every day brings news, terrifyingly bad news, of increasing antisemitism everywhere. Many of the headlines since early October are about a Black celebrity who continues to spew outrageous lies about Jews. He goes by a variety of names. Legally he was Kanye Omari West. In 2018, he changed it to Ye, based on his belief that it’s the word most used in the Bible.

Many Jews dismiss him because he was never as much as a blip on their radar. However, to dismiss him is extremely dangerous, because his antisemitic rants resonate across the globe. His followers far outnumber all the Jews on earth. They include racists, white supremacists, Black supremacists, radical Muslims, neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers and distorters and conspiracy theorists. The one thing they generally have in common is antisemitism. Many feed on his trash talk and regurgitate it for their cohorts and followers to share. It provides fodder for all the enemies of the Jews.

Which is one reason Elon Musk’s recent acquisition of Twitter is quite worrisome. Facebook is still the largest social media platform, but Twitter, its offshoot, is growing. Its new owner, whose ultimate agenda is unknown, is a “free speech absolutist.” He declared that Twitter will not become a platform for inflammatory hate speech. Musk is setting up a department to address it. How effective it becomes remains to be seen. It’s hard to be hopeful in light of all the antisemitic and anti-Zionist tweets that have appeared since he took ownership of the platform.

What demands our immediate attention is how Ye became the influencer who influences so many. What made him expose his inner antisemitism when his success is, to a considerable degree, the result of Jews in the music industry as well as the media?

More crucially, how has post-Holocaust antisemitism spread so successfully? A careful and complete consideration of all these questions would require a multi-volume encyclopedia. In brief, a swastika streams through the fetid river of the oldest and most convenient hatred; we call it antisemitism. It has poisoned the waters.

Antisemitism began well before the Holocaust and, as we all know, continues to this day. Support comes from many different parts of society, including the athletic-wear industry. Adidas, originally started by a member of the Nazi party, is one example. The multinational conglomerate’s website omits its Nazi past.

In 2013, Adidas lured then-Kanye West away from Nike, a rival company. West was a musician and designer with his pulse on the latest trends. He was also sophisticated enough to monetize his brand, becoming a billionaire and creating a separate division, Yeezy.

Ye claims to have read “Mein Kampf” and admires and is a “fascinated by Hitler” fanboy. Does he know how brutally Nazis treated mixed-race offspring like his own? Would he care if he knew? Has his fame gone to his head and placed him in a bubble, seemingly immune to the realities of the past and present?

Kanye Omari West was born in Atlanta, Georgia to two Black parents, Donda Williams West and Ray West, both highly educated activists. Donda (1949-2007) accompanied her father to Oklahoma City for the 1958 Katz’s Pharmacy sit-in. Her husband was a member of the Black Panthers but left the revolutionary organization after their son’s birth. The Wests divorced in 1977, when their only child was 3. Kanye moved with his mother to Chicago where she became professor and chair of the English department at Chicago State University. After retiring, she became his “momager.”

At age 5 West was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression. His mother, a Fullbright scholar with a doctorate, refused to medicate him.

In one of his latest tweets, West revealed that the doctor who initially diagnosed his mental illness was Jewish. Although he calls his disease “awesome” and believes it is the key to his success, he also insinuated that the psychiatrist was somehow responsible for the drug-overdose deaths of Michael Jackson and Prince.

Ye is a proven influencer, and his mental health issues may indeed be responsible for previous and more recent rants. That’s irrelevant in terms of assessing his danger. Many considered Hitler a clown, or a raving madman. He may well have been. They underestimated how dangerous and destructive he was and would become.

What’s said is heard; what’s posted is read and often assumes a life of its own. On October 3, Ye proclaimed he’d “go death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.” The post went viral. He was dropped by individuals and corporations who had helped promote, empower and enrich him, including Adidas. His claims that he can’t be antisemitic because Blacks are the original Jews, backfired and exacerbated the problem.

Ye’s baseless and incongruous beliefs, declarations, accusations, provocations and erratic behaviors have made headlines for years. Headlines bring big bucks but can also stop the money flow. It’s no surprise that he blames the very people he threatened for his fall.

Not all his followers have abandoned him as a raving lunatic, however. He remains popular and his fan base may increase among those who believe he’s the victim of a Jewish-born conspiracy to unseat a Black man. His outrageous posts may even be a shrewd maneuver to attract publicity. As Elizabeth Taylor said, ‘Even bad publicity is good publicity.”

In the meantime, he serves as a tool others can manipulate for their own nefarious purposes. Who created and paid to have “Kanye is Right…” publicized in electric lights on tall buildings and a football stadium in Jacksonville, Florida? The usual suspects from all sides of the religious and political divide, who foment racism and antisemitism, were likely at work here.

Exposing Ye’s antisemitism may prove a blessing in disguise if it unites all Jews to become active opponents of all forms of antisemitism, including anti-Zionism. Perhaps that, as well as the lesson that what begins with Jews never ends with Jews, will finally sink in among everyone who pursues peace. We live in hope.

By Barbara Wind

 

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