In a report out Monday (Feb. 13), the Anti-Defamation League chronicles 30 antisemitic incidents over the past several months that the group said directly referenced a string of hateful, anti-Jewish comments made by disgraced rapper Kanye West.
“These incidents — which include vandalism, banner drops, targeted harassment and campus propaganda distributions — demonstrate the ongoing influence of Ye’s conspiratorial, bigoted rants,” read the report from the nation’s oldest anti-hate organization. The report includes a lengthy list of episodes that took place across the country during, or in the wake of, West’s monthslong spree of interviews and statements amplifying antisemitic stereotypes and hate speech.
“Immediately following Ye’s antisemitic comments, which included inflammatory tropes about Jewish power and Holocaust denial, the slogan ‘Ye Is Right’ surfaced online in hashtags and antisemitic accounts,” read the ADL’s report. “The ADL Center on Extremism has also tracked references to ‘Ye Is Right’ in instances of on-the-ground antisemitic vandalism and harassment nationwide.”
And while the ADL said only some of the incidents were perpetrated by people who are known extremists, they demonstrate how references to the rapper (who now goes by Ye) were often paired with swastikas or other antisemitic slurs “[and]have become mainstream shorthand for the hatred of — or a desire to commit violence against – Jewish people.”
“Kanye West’s repeated antisemitic remarks – and his dredging up some of the worst anti-Jewish tropes imaginable – doubtlessly are having an impact and inspiring people to commit real-world acts of hate,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO in a statement to Billboard. “As we have long maintained, celebrities and others who engage in spreading hateful tropes need to know their words have consequences. Unfortunately, Kanye’s decision to continue to peddle hatred against Jews is only giving encouragement to people who are already infected with hate.”
At press time, Billboard was unable to reach a spokesperson for Ye. In the wake of his public outbursts, the rapper has since been dropped by his record label, publicists, lawyers, fashion collaborators and brand partners in one of the swiftest, most thorough downfalls of a major pop-culture figure in recent memory.
In January, Billboard spoke to a number of experts about the whether Ye’s offensive rhetoric signaled a potential rising wave of hate and intolerance in the nation. A number suggested that they have helped to normalize the spreading of such hate speech by mainstream media personalities.
Among the events the ADL lists as being inspired by Ye’s comments:
- A January “Yes is right, change my mind” series of college campus gatherings by the white supremacist Groypers organization during which extremists peddled “Holocaust denial and praise Hitler, all under the auspices of defending Ye’s antisemitic comments and outbursts.” The ADL said the events were part of a “road trip” largely organized by Groypers Tyler Russell and Dalton Clodfelter — known for their antisemitic and white supremacist rhetoric — during which they claimed the ADL were “trying to take away” people’s bank accounts and stifling free speech.
- Ye’s outbursts coincided with Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter in late October, with the ADL noting an increase in antisemitic posts on the platform and a decrease in moderation of such posts. The group reported that since Oct. 1, 2022, there have been more than 9,400 Twitter mentions using, or referencing, the “Ye Is Right” slogan; those posts reached five million users, spawning 19,300 likes and more than 5,000 retweets.
- A long string of antisemitic incidents — including vandalism and harassment — at K-12 schools, colleges and universities, Jewish institutions, public areas and commercial locations. A list of a dozen incidents from Oct. 11 to Dec. 23 in Wisconsin, California, Florida, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, North Carolina and Texas included someone scrawling “Kanye was right” and “Defcon III” on a sidewalk on the University of Wisconsin campus; the phrases “Kanye West is right” and “Kill All Jews” along with a three swastikas written on the wall of a high school bathroom; the phrase “Blacks are the real Jews!” and “Kanye is Right” on the welcome sign at a Bronx Orthodox synagogue; the phrase “I stand with Ye & Kyrie” on a wall of thanks at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport; a swastika and “I love Kanye” drawn in chalk at a high school by a student in West Palm Beach.
- Ye’s comments have also resulted in a number of people and organizations being harassed. Among the ones chronicled by the ADL: antisemitic phone calls and email received by the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust after it offered Ye a tour to learn about hate speech; a Jewish-owned restaurant in Los Angeles getting a call asking for “the Kanye special” before saying “death to all the Jews”; an alleged assault on an elderly Jewish man in New York’s Central Park by a 32-year-old man who yelled, “F–k you, Jew!” and “Kanye 2024“; the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh received a call from an unknown individual identifying themselves as West who said, “I hate all Jewish people. All of them must burn and die. I love Hitler. I love Hitler.”
- The embrace of Ye’s rhetoric by a number of known extremist and antisemitic groups who’ve leveraged “his comments to further their own agendas and promote antisemitic claims and conspiracy theories.” Among the examples were a series of incidents in which the Goyim Defense League, along with White Lives Matter and the NatSoc Florida, dropped antisemitic banners supporting Ye in California, New York and Florida, as well as a widely reported incident in which a laser projector was used to beam antisemitic messages onto buildings at TIAA Bank Field after the Georgia/Florida football game in Jacksonville, including one that read “Kanye is right about the Jews.”
*Editor’s Note: After an Oct. 8, 2022, tweet in which he announced he was going “death con [sic] 3 on Jewish people,” Kanye West (Ye) has repeatedly doubled down on antisemitic hate speech, even going so far as to praise Hitler, a man responsible for the systematic murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust. This arrives at a troubling time when antisemitism is on the rise, with the Anti-Defamation League noting a 34% year-over-year increase in antisemitic incidents (assault, harassment and vandalism) in America in 2021. Many companies have cut business ties with the rapper/fashion designer, while numerous musicians, friends and politicians have condemned his comments.
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