Into an already tense election season, right-wing elements have garnered a new, anti-Semitic spokesperson — rapper Kanye West.
This weekend West didn’t just spout anti-Semitic comments — he added that he could make anti-Semitic comments and Adidas, which is contracted for his new Yeezy clothing line, couldn’t do a thing about it.
The comments were reminiscent of West’s bizarre meeting with former President Donald Trump in the White House when West announced he was running for president, but admired Trump. But the authoritarian tendencies verge on fascism.
It starts with the permission structure that Trump created, giving a wink and a nod to groups promoting anti-Semitism, racism, and bigotry.
After the white nationalists’ Charlottesville rally, he declared “there were good people on both sides”.
During a Presidential Debate with President Joe Biden, he told the Proud Boys to “Stand back and stand by.”
The comments by a rich musician weren’t the only incidents of bigotry this past weekend. Fliers went out in several areas of Los Angeles blaming gun control on Jewish people. Neo-Nazis stood on freeway overpasses with signs reading “Kanye is right about the Jews.”
Also this weekend, an elderly Jewish woman received a bag with ashes in it with a note saying “COVID is a Jewish plot.” (The intent was intimidation; as more than six million Jews were incinerated in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.)
This isn’t new, but these are disturbing examples of the myths being espoused by the alt-right, white supremacists, and the Nation of Islam to terrorize people. It’s part of the rise in anti-Semitic disinformation about Jews not being loyal to America, or accusing them of being responsible for all the ills of the country. This underlies the increased incidents of hatred, bigotry, and actual violent attacks on people, neighborhoods, and synagogues in the past year.
There seems to be a great deal of reluctance among politicians and perhaps even corporate leaders, to condemn this activity, and this bigotry.
“Adidas needs to drop Kanye West as a spokesperson,” said Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “Most people of good faith are repulsed by this racism and hate.”
It should be noted that Adidas is not a new company. In fact, given its company history, it would do well to note that condemning anti-Semitism would be an ethical move. During the 1930’s and 40’s Adidas supplied shoes for the Hitler Youth program that indoctrinated Germany’s youth with Nazi ideology and Hitler wore then as well.