Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson came under fire yesterday after sharing quotes on social media attributed to Adolf Hitler and Louis Farrakhan. He removed them after a day and issued an apology once there was sufficient pushback.
But not everyone chided him. In fact, last night in a video posted on Instagram, former NBA player Stephen Jackson defended DeSean Jackson, saying, “He was trying to educate himself, educate people, and he’s speaking the truth. Right? He’s speaking the truth. You know he don’t hate nobody, but he’s speaking the truth of the facts that he knows and trying to educate others.”
What “truth” did Jackson publicize to his millions of fans “despite not hating anybody?”
Hitler said, “because the white jews know that the negros are the real children of Israel. And to keep Americas secret, the jews will blackmail America. The jews will extort America Their plan for world domination wont work if the negros knew who they were. The white citizens of America will be terrified to know that all this time they’ve been mistreating and discriminating and lynching the childen of Israel.
In his apology, DeSean Jackson claimed he was just “trying to uplift his people,” but uplifting one group of people cannot come at the expense of another. This rule seems to be true for all minorities but Jews. Diddy, Chelsea Handler, Jameela Jamil, and Jessica Chastain also all recently shared Farrakhan quotes on social media noting how “wise” or “powerful” his words were even though this is a man who has praised Hitler and called Jews “termites.” Rapper Ice Cube has been sharing blatantly antisemitic posts for some time. While all these celebrities have gotten some amount of censure for posting anti-Jewish content, the response hasn’t been even in the same universe as to what they would have gotten if they had shared similar hateful views against any other minority. And the question is why not?
Why do you get harassed, piled on, and canceled for any misstep or misspeak against every protected group except for Jews? Why are the rules always different for the Jewish people? Why aren’t the Jews a protected class?
I was recently speaking to a Black man who is interested in building bridges between the Black and Jewish communities. We were discussing similarities and differences in the challenges each of our people have endured. I tried to explain to him that being Jewish doesn’t feel safe, and he was baffled by that assertion.
We don’t get stopped more often by police. We generally don’t live in neighborhoods with poor performing public schools or have to deal with gang violence. We can assimilate or dress in a non-Jewish way if we choose. So many Jews have achieved great success and live with a fair amount of privilege in the world today. What could we possibly be scared of, he wanted to know.
“That it’s only a matter of time until it’s ripped away,” I explained.
Any Jewish child who has learned about his history knows that time and time again in every age and many locations, we came in with nothing, rose up, achieved historic success, and then one day, we suddenly became unwanted visitors in our place of sojourning. At that point we were harassed, attacked, forcibly converted, murdered and/or expelled.
It is important to note that hate crimes against Jews in the U.S. are at historic highs and the question of “it is time to leave, once again?” is on the minds of many Jews today. The Anti-Defamation reported that were 2,107 hate crimes against Jewish people nationwide in 2019, the highest the number since the ADL began tracking anti-semitic crimes in 1979. And according to police crime data although Jews only make up 12% of the population, of the 421 hate crimes reported in New York City in 2019, more than half were directed at Jews – specifically haredi (ultra-Orthodox Jews), and many of those were violent attacks. Not only that, after the Jersey City shooting and the Monsey attack, more than one major news outlet asked if ultra-Orthodox Jews were bringing this violence upon themselves by expanding to new neighborhoods.
How can any Jew who looks visibly Jewish, frequents Jewish establishments, or who knows an ounce of Jewish history ever exhale? While Jews may appear to be privileged by an outsider who takes a superficial look and doesn’t know our backstory, there is no security in the privilege of Jews. And that is because we are in exile and will keep facing new enemies who find new ways to excuse their hate for us, even if we are living in an age when hate ITSELF is something you are not allowed to do!
Tonight begins the Three Weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av, which commemorates the anniversary of our painful exile from our land. Jackson’s (and the other celebrities’) blatant antisemitism and the tepid reprimand they have gotten is enough to put us into the mood that we are meant to be in this time of year. Our position isn’t secure, the world doesn’t have our back, and somehow in every time and place antisemitism has the ability to shapeshift and evolve to fit whatever the mood du jour is to give it legs.
We must call it out when we see it, we must ask the righteous gentiles of the world to have our backs, we must work to create understanding about our community as we do here at Jew in the City. But most of all, we must turn to the One Above. It was for spiritual reasons that we were exiled 2000 years ago (due to baselessly hating one another) and placed in this precarious position where we are never at home. And it will be a spiritual solution, harkening in a long-awaited time of peace and universal brotherhood of makind (yomos hamoshiach) that will finally bring these millennia of agony to an end.