The anti-Semitic outrages of the artist formerly known as Kanye West, now going by Ye, are certainly deplorable. They invoke several of the most infamous and familiar anti-Jewish tropes – most recently, he blamed a Jewish doctor for allegedly misdiagnosing one of his mental conditions and prescribing medication that could have killed him.
Some are pointing to a possible silver lining in this scandal: the fact that some of the major companies with which he had lucrative business ventures – Adidas, Balenciaga, Vogue, Foot Locker, and Gap – cut ties with him due to his statements publicly underscored that antisemitism is unacceptable.
One Jewish New York Times opinion columnist, Brett Stephens, expressed his own tongue-in-cheek gratitude to Ye for creating the brouhaha:
You’ve probably done more done more to raise public awareness about the persistence, prevalence and nature of antisemitism than any other recent event.
It’s remarkable how long it took us to get here. For 2020, the FBI reports that Jews, who constitute about 2.4% of the total adult population in the United States, were on the receiving end of 54.9% of all religiously motivated hate crimes. On many nights in New York City, Hasidic or Orthodox Jews are being shoved, harangued, and beaten.
So far, this has been one of the most underreported stories in the country – itself a telling indicator in an era that is otherwise hyper-attuned to prejudice and hate….
These are surely not the things you had in mind when you decided to go to “death con 3” [sic] on my people. Nor were they necessarily top-of-mind for many celebrities who denounced you in tweets and Instagram posts. But your bigotry is as good a place as any to begin to have an honest conversation about antisemitism – one that will hopefully last longer than your own career’s self-destruction.
Still, there are already rumblings about the swiftness and scope of the retribution visited upon Ye, who has a history of making inflammatory, anti-Black statements. IIlya Davis, director of freshman and senior academic programs at mostly Black Morehouse College, told CNN: “I think it’s a fair assessment to say that Kanye’s punishment is part and parcel of him making anti-Jewish remarks and people care little to nothing about making anti-Black remarks. Oftentimes Black suffering is overlooked or minimized in culture.
He isn’t the only person pointing out that it seems to take Ye offending the Jewish community before his empire hit the skids – something that would likely only serve as confirmation for him and others with an antisemitic bent that their conspiracy theories are true.
It feels like a strange if not unfamiliar catch-22 for the Jewish community.