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    • Ye, fully-masked, speaking at an InfoWars interview.

All Falls Down: Antisemitism and the Downfall of Kanye West

Zoe Somner ’23
In a matter of weeks, Ye’s net worth dropped from $2 billion to an estimated $400 million.
The American rapper formerly known as Kanye West has previously faced backlash for his harmful comments and relationships with controversial figures. For example, in 2018, Ye alleged that enslavement was a choice in a TMZ newsroom interview: “When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years?! That sounds like a choice.” Ye has also come under fire for his ties to former president Donald Trump, his insinuation that George Floyd died of a fentanyl overdose, his recent harassment of Kim Kardashian, and countless other incidents.

Many fans wrote off Ye’s prior behavior as an offshoot of bipolar disorder, with which he was diagnosed in 2016. However, Ye has spoken out against taking steps to address his mental health issues. In 2018 he tweeted “I can feel me again” six months after claiming he was “learning how to not be on meds” in an interview with the New York Times. Furthermore, Ye has committed to performing and working through manic episodes, periods in which bipolar individuals can feel invincible, hyperactive, and euphoric.

Despite the lack of major consequences in response to his past actions, Ye went too far this October, spouting violent, antisemitic rhetoric and perpetuating white supremacist ideologies.

On October 3, 2022, Ye and many others proudly wore “White Lives Matter” shirts at Ye’s Yeezy fashion show. Four days later, Ye posted about his falling out with rapper, actor, producer, and record executive Sean “Diddy” Combs, his comments hinting at antisemitic tropes. His next attack came two days later in a tweet in which he threatened to go “death con 3” on Jewish people, and alluded to conspiracy theories that were central to Nazi antisemitic ideology. In the same tweet, Ye referenced Black Hebrew Israelite beliefs that Black people were the original Jewish people, and that, as a Black man, he could not be antisemitic.
Although littered with misspellings and incoherent grammar, the message reached millions at a dangerous time for Jewish people nationwide: According to the Anti-Defamation League, in 2021, there were 2,717 incidents motivated by antisemitism in America, a 34% increase from the previous year.

As criticism from other prominent figures, businesses and organizations mounted, Ye doubled down on his claims in subsequent interviews. Tensions came to a head in a “Drink Champs” podcast episode that aired the weekend of October 16. In the interview, Ye proclaimed, “I can say antisemitic things, and Adidas can’t drop me” after again alluding to antisemitic conspiracy theories. On October 22, a hate group unfurled a banner with the message including the phrase “Kanye was right” over a Los Angeles freeway. As they were photographed, members executed Nazi salutes. Three days later, Adidas officially dropped Ye, ending a decade-long partnership. Gap, Balenciaga, and the talent agency CAA have also cut ties with Ye.

Although it is important that Ye has finally been held somewhat accountable for his actions, one question remains: What took so long? For years people dismissed Ye’s remarks, embracing his music to such an extent that they were willing to look past problematic comments. Even as Ye became more radicalized, people discounted his words on account of his bipolar disorder. Although mental illness is likely a driving force behind Ye’s actions, it doesn’t erase or excuse the harm they have caused. We can be sympathetic towards those struggling with mental health issues while recognizing that Ye has an immense amount of resources at his disposal to address his problems and educate himself.

The idea that people, especially those with a platform, should face consequences when they propagate false claims that encourage violence, should not be a radical one. Unfortunately, it has been
misconstrued as such. Social media outlets need to do a better job of vetting the kind of content individuals, and in particular those with large followings, post. Free speech is important, but hate speech and free speech are not the same. When a person encourage violence against a group of people whose only offense is their ethnicity or religion, social media outlets need to quickly counter these harmful messages to ensure that the perpetrators face consequences. By failing to do so, these organizations allow for the normalization of violence in a polarized society.

At the time I began this article, the Ye saga seemed to be quieting, but that couldn’t have been farther from the truth. On December 1, Ye appeared on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ InfoWars program. Jones tried to paint Ye as a victim of the woke liberal mob, but Ye, wearing a black mask over his head, made that job impossible when he praised Adolf Hitler and the Nazis – even after Jones, who appeared uncomfortable, offered him an out. Between these outrageous assertions, Ye repeated the same antisemitic tropes and conspiracy theories that he had referenced in his earlier tweets. The next day, December 2, Ye was kicked off of Twitter for posting a picture of a swastika inside the Star of David.

Ultimately, to fully bring this episode to an end, we as a society need to stop giving Ye a platform and attention. He has shown that, as long as he has those two things, he’ll continue to encourage antisemitic hatred and violence.
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 an open forum publication, is published monthly during the school year by students of: 
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