Hate enablers should not prevail – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

Have you heard that Kanye West might buy the self-styled free speech platform called Parler? Supposedly “conservative”, the app was used to organize and recruit for the Capitol siege. Parler continually enables hate with accounts that use swastikas as their profile pictures along with posts with Holocaust denial, antisemitism, and racism. Proud Boys, QAnon conspiracy theorists, anti-government extremists and white supremacists have all promoted their views on Parler.

Until recently, Parler’s lack of content limits got it banned from tech giants like Amazon and the app stores of Google and Apple. Parler’s new moderation measure blocking abusive users and removing violence-inciting content gained it visibility, but Apple isn’t exactly enamored, noting that the processes Parler put in place to moderate or prevent the spread of dangerous and illegal content are insufficient.”

Why is West motivated to purchase Parler now? His offer comes after being locked out of his Twitter and Instagram accounts for making posts that online users condemned as antisemitic.  The condemnations ramped up when West attacked Jews with lethal threats, saying he was going “Death Con 3” on them. He later claimed in an interview with Chris Cuomo that he was just defending himself against the “Jewish underground media mafia”. His antisemitic conspiracy theories and Jewish stereotypes are popular online, where they’re combined with a 1933 speech from Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, adding to normalization of Jew-hatred.

Some folks dismiss the condemnations as ugly attacks on a mentally incapacitated individual. Not surprisingly, many Jewish organizations and celebrities reject that approach. There are others, including former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who condemn Wests remarks. In addition, the Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations also condemned Wests antisemitism. 

It’s noteworthy that 170 Black and Jewish celebrities, including Mayim Bialik, Louis Gossett Jr., Jason Alexander and Tiffany Haddish recently formed the Black-Jewish Entertainment Alliance, aimed at fostering unity between Black and Jewish communities, as well as fighting antisemitism and racism. 

You’d think that the Alliance and its #StandUpToHatred would be celebrated. Many of the comments to Facebook’s new Alliance announcement did indeed commend the group. But others denounced the idea with politically-loaded comments. Some placed blame for the hate on the GOP, which tweeted support for Kanye West, days after they held a $50k a ticket fundraiser for Mehmet Oz who literally based his speech around Hitler & Nazi memorabilia. Some blamed Democrats like Ilhan Omar whose anti-semitic remarks Dems refuse to condemn, and Black Lives Matter, referring to a new platform associated with the Black Lives Matter movement that describes Israel as an apartheid state” committing genocide” against the Palestinian people. 

Others on Facebook rejected the idea of a Black-Jewish coalition, preferring a supposed neutrality by ignoring racism and antisemitism. For example, “Oh my goodness can we stop with these groups popping up all over the place all based on race and nationality? What the heck happened to America unity? These people dont have nothing better to do than come up with new entertaining programs…”

Silence that pretends neutrality won’t help anyone. I’ve often quoted the words of wisdom from Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel, Always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

And we can’t condone West’s, disrespectful “La La La” response to Cuomo noting that “Jewish media mafia” is a hateful stereotype. Imagine what will happen when West purchases Parler! We need to dialogue and interact more than ever to counteract this growing racism, antisemitism and hate of the other”. Hopefully, the Black-Jewish Entertainment Alliance will generate a new and effective movement. Lead the way…ASAP!


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