I implore you, think back to middle school history class: learning about WWII and the Holocaust, thinking to yourself how long ago that was and how none of that antisemitism exists now because it ended after the war. Teaching students about the Holocaust but not the prevalence of antisemitism nowadays allows students to stay ignorant about the horrific events that have been happening. While it is true that the treatment of Jews has drastically improved since WWII, antisemitism still exists—only, it is hidden under the surface as we fight for equal rights for all minorities. When I was younger, I also thought antisemitism did not exist anymore, especially not in America.
That was until sixth grade when, during a school art show, there were a few pieces about shootings at temples across the US. They really opened my eyes to the antisemitism present in this country, but this was only the first of many moments that made me realize how much of a problem antisemitism still is. While at the practice for my Bat Mitzvah, I remember my rabbi saying how thankful he was that the walls of the synagogue were glass so he could see if a shooter was coming. At this moment, it really hit me. Practicing my religion is dangerous, and people are afraid while attending temple.
As half of this country has become focused on inclusivity and supporting marginalized groups, the half has fallen into hatred and possibly Neo-Nazism—hating many groups, but especially Jews. This flame is unfortunately being fanned by big celebrities who are supportive of this antisemitism or antisemitic media. One example of this is the ongoing controversy surrounding Kanye West’s antisemitic comments. He believes that because he is a rich and famous celebrity, there will be no repercussions for his actions. Some people thought that no one would take his comments seriously and that he was just being a troll, but others are using his status to try to build a base for their antisemitic views.
On October 8th, Kanye tweeted vowing to “[go] death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE.” In a later interview, he said that he “can say antisemitic things, and Adidas can’t drop [him],” showing how untouchable he thinks he is. Kanye supporters and antisemites have been increasingly expressing their antisemitism and repeating the phrase, “Kanye is right about the Jews.” This phrase becoming so popular shows the influence Kanye has and the fact that his words are creating a new basis for antisemites to justify their prejudices.
Now of course, we know he faced the consequences of his actions—Adidas and several other companies dropped him—but the fact that he thought he would not have to pay the price of his words represents how popularity, success, and getting off free for other hateful acts makes him think he is able to do and say whatever he wants. Additionally, he may be facing the consequences, but the damage has been done. Antisemites have their fuel, and his fans are already trying to justify what he said and still listening to his music, just like they did when he said and did other horrible things.
Kanye is most certainly not the only popular antisemite, especially not the only celebrity, but he is very influential. Because of the general lack of knowledge about antisemitism, his words are able to have such an effect. Antisemitism has been and will exist for as long as Judaism does, but that in no way justifies the actions of antisemites and the hate Jews all over the world get. We are living in a time where some people, including those who are influential, believe they can say harmful things, and those quotes and misinformation can be spread quickly on the internet. Because of this, the impact of their actions is much greater, not only on the world and supporters, but anyone whose identity is the one being spoken about is such a harmful way.
This anonymous NCS Student opted to remove their name from this piece. While The Exchanged believes that its mission is better fulfilled when authors attach their names to articles, we do allow authors to remove their names.