Kanye West and His Antisemetic Tirade


Shireen Zada, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Kanye West, or “Ye” as he prefers to be called, is ​​an American rapper, songwriter, producer, and fashion designer. He is a musical sensation, and has been widely regarded as one of the most influential hip hop artists of his generation. Kanye began to receive recognition for his talents around 2000, and has stayed in the public eye since then. For years, he has made headlines regarding his successful footwear brand, complications with his ex-wife Kim Kardashian, and of course, for his music. But unfortunately, one of the largest reasons for Kanye’s prevalence in the news is due to his frequent bizarre and offensive behavior. 


West’s aggressive demeanor towards other celebrities, the paparazzi, and his family has often been excused as a possible mental health issue. His antagonism has been overlooked by many, including me, who have truly appreciated his music and contributions. Admittedly, I have laughed at his erratic social media posts and at his strange remarks, rationalizing his behavior as just a product of a bad temper. However, Kanye’s recent statements have been impossible for the world to excuse, overlook, or ignore. 


West’s latest controversies have earned him a reputation much more notorious than simply crazy or ill-tempered. His slanderous remarks have led his fans to the conclusion that the artist that they have held in such high regard is, in fact, an antisemite. Throughout the past month, Kanye West has used his media presence to voice antisemitic tropes about Jewish intimidation, power, and control. 


On October 6, West was featured on Fox News for an interview, after his decision to wear a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt during Paris Fashion Week. It was during this interview, and the many interviews to follow, that Kanye had the opportunity to continue making offensive comments and conspiratorial claims about the Jewish community. 


Kanye, in his ever-shameless fashion, defended these statements. He said that it is incorrect to label him as an antisemite and that he cannot be one, because of his baseless claim that as a black person, he is Jewish himself. West claimed that Planned Parenthood was a collaboration between the KKK and Margaret Sanger “to control the Jew [i.e. Black] population.” He also tweeted that he is “going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE,” a post which Twitter has since removed. 


Last week, West told paparazzi that his mental illnesses had been misdiagnosed by a Jewish doctor, he ranted on his disdain for Jewish “control” of the media, and he compared Planned Parenthood to the Holocaust. During an interview on Revolt TV’s “Drink Champs,” a podcast which was posted and then removed on October 16th, Kanye condemned “Jewish media” and “Jewish Zionists” for numerous alleged wrongdoings, claiming that “Jewish people have owned the Black voice” and that “the Jewish community, especially in the music industry…they’ll take us and milk us till we die.” This was a reference to the words of Islamic leader Louis Farrakhan, who was also outwardly antisemitic. 


Kanye said that he was “#MeToo-ing the Jewish culture,” further villainizing Jewish people, as well as making a mockery of a completely separate movement against sexual abuse. On October 25th, Adidas announced it was ending its longtime partnership with Kanye West amid the controversy. He felt that this was yet another attempt by the Jews to “silence” him. 


Kanye West has always attracted controversy, but this time it is different and it is dangerous. After Kanye openly voiced this harmful rhetoric, well-known conspiracy theorists, extremist groups, and other antisemites were quick to express their support, while also leveraging his words to promote their own beliefs.  


Antisemitism is one of the longest-standing forms of prejudice. It is now on the rise in our country, with the number of reported hate crimes increasing. On November 3rd, the FBI warned of a “broad threat” to synagogues in New Jersey. A day later, they located a man who had expressed “an extreme amount of hate against the Jewish community.” Kanye’s recent statements have garnered a concerning amount of support. A banner that read “Kanye is right about the Jews” was hung over a Los Angeles interstate on October 22nd, and similar words were projected at a college football stadium in Jacksonville, Florida. 


Growing up, my dad and I would listen to Kanye’s music during every car ride, which until now, I still did. However, after his distasteful actions and insults directed at people like me, like my friends and family, I feel immensely uncomfortable listening to his music. I feel sad, similar to how I felt a few years back when an unknown person broke into our house and drew a swastika on our floor. 


While it would be much easier to ignore the words of Kanye West and of other antisemites, history has regrettably shown that all it takes is a few influential people to unite under a common, hateful cause for things to become much more overt and dangerous.