Jewish people across the world woke up Sunday, Oct. 9 to a highly antisemitic tweet by
influential designer and artist, Ye — known also as Kanye West — posted the night before.
This came just days after the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur.
In the tweet, removed by Twitter for violating community guidelines, Ye stated “when I
wake up I’m going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.”
The tweet follows another now-deleted post from his Instagram account Saturday, sharing
a screenshot of a text message in which he wrote, “Ima use you as an example to show the
Jewish people that told you to call me that no one can threaten or influence me[.] I told you
this was war.”
This is not the first of Ye’s controversial public statements recently. Amid this controversy
was Ye’s debut of “White Lives Matter” shirts at an Oct. 3 fashion show in Paris, noted by
many journalists as a nod to white supremacy.
Despite writing “death con” in his tweet, Ye appeared to be referring to the U.S. military
Defense Ready Condition, commonly known as DEFCON. DEFCON has five levels, with
five being the lowest level of readiness and one being the immediate threat or beginning of
nuclear war. DEFCON three indicates the need to escalate readiness for war, in which
forces need to be able to mobilize in a matter of minutes.
It is easy to ignore Ye’s statements, and some even excuse them because of his bipolar
disorder diagnosis. Mental health issues affect too many people worldwide, and giving grace
to those who experience the effects of mental illness is beyond necessary. However, inciting
violence toward Jewish people is dangerous.
Ye declaring he’ll go “death con 3” on Jewish people opens the door for his followers and
others with his mindset to begin and continue antisemitic behaviour.
Young audiences are impressionable. Influencers and idols tend to set behavioural norms
for young people. Even though the tweet was deleted from Ye’s account, it is still accessible,
and that access to words from a powerful influencer gives people a platform to express hate
and use threatening language.
Some retweets and comments contain horrendous language. “About time these people
get exposed” and “f–k Jews and hail Hitler” are just two examples.
In response, the American Jewish Committee posted to its Instagram account, noting that
Ye uses tropes of “greed” and “control” to further justify his antisemitism.
During a conversation with Hoda Kotb on TODAY, actor Jamie Lee Curtis, who has
Hungarian-Jewish roots, said regarding Ye’s antisemitism, “it’s a big concern, you know,
these tools of communication are beautiful and they can connect us, and then they can just
wedge us and people can pour their bile through these portals into our lives.”
Curtis’s reaction was not an isolated one, as other public figures and institutions including
the Holocaust Museum L.A., U.S. Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and comedian
Sarah Silverman all spoke out regarding Ye’s statements.
Putting language like Ye’s into the world will only encourage hate and lessen the severity
The genocide that resulted from the Holocaust during the Second World War stemmed
from Hitler’s anti-Jewish legislation and speeches, which often cited Jewish people as
communists and a danger to national security among other arguments in order to justify
concentration camps and mass murder. This language sounds all too similar to Ye’s.
How hard will it be for people to justify violence toward Jews after Friday’s tweet?