When Kanye West, a.k.a. Ye, began his antisemitic blitz late last year — threatening to go “death con 3 on Jewish people”; proclaiming his “love” for Nazis; and insisting it’s time for Jews to “forgive Hitler” — the hate didn’t just go viral on the Internet. It soon spread to college campuses and marred synagogues, and it filled the mouths of assailants attacking Jewish individuals in grocery stores and parks.
A new report by the Anti-Defamation League released Monday catalogs dozens of acts of vandalism, harassment and intimidation organized under the “Ye is right” slogan. “Kanye West’s repeated antisemitic remarks – and his dredging up some of the worst anti-Jewish tropes imaginable — are inspiring people to commit real-world acts of hate,” says Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s CEO.
The online reach of those inspired by Ye’s hate, the ADL documents, was massive on its own. Tweets referencing the “Ye is Right” slogan reached nearly 5 million users of the platform. (The celebration of West’s hateful ideology on Twitter neatly overlapped with the takeover of the platform by Elon Musk; ADL has already recorded that the Musk era has seen a spike in antisemitic content and a decline in hate speech moderation.)
In turn, the real-world reach of “Ye Is Right” has taken various forms:
The report documents a spate of hate-speech vandalism from coast to coast. The Kanye-inspired graffitos included “Defcon III” scrawled on a university walkway in Wisconsin, the words “Kanye West is right” and “Kill All Jews” written on the wall of a California high school bathroom; a swastika and “I love Kanye” chalking at a high school in Florida, and “Kanye is Right” written on the welcome sign of an Orthodox synagogue in New York City.
The ADL also catalogs acts of harassment, including of a Jewish-owned Los Angeles restaurant, where a fake customer called to order the “Kanye special” before adding, “Death to all the Jews.” In Michigan, a man harassed Jewish families outside as synagogue with antisemitic taunts including “Kanye was right.”
There have even been acts of violence: A Jewish man in Central Park was roughted up in by an assailant who yelled “Fuck you, Jew!” and “Kanye 2024!” In Maryland, a Jewish man was assaulted in a grocery store by a group who shouted: “Yeah, do it for Kanye!”
In addition to these one-off incidents, ADL records that West’s rhetoric has permeated organized groups.
In January, Groypers — followers of the white nationalist leader and Kanye confidant Nick Fuentes — organized a series of “Ye is right, change my mind” stunts at universities in Florida and Alabama. At these actions a pair of Groypers sitting in front of a “Ye Is Right” banner “debated” students while promoting hateful tropes about Jews.
Last October, the “Goyim Defense League” led a banner drop on a freeway overpass in Los Angeles reading “Honk if you know Kanye is right about the Jews.” In December, members of a white supremacist organization in California boarded a flight wearing Burger King crowns altered to read: “White Power” and “Ye is Right.” That same month, a neo Nazi group in Idaho distributed anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and propaganda reading “Kanye West is right about the Jews.”
Since getting booted from Twitter for posting hybrid symbol of a swastika and a star of David, West has kept a relatively low profile. However, his political braintrust — including “Stop the Steal” founder Ali Alexander — has not stopped talking up a potential presidential run by the rapper in 2024.
Greenblatt warns that West’s impact on the national discourse is dark and could turn darker: “Kanye’s decision to continue to peddle hatred against Jews is only giving encouragement to people who are already infected with hate,” he says, insisting that “words have consequences.”
From Rolling Stone US