The real issue with Kanye West

Perpetuating an antisemitic myth to millions of people does, in fact, have consequences


People defend Kanye’s antisemitic remarks

Emily Gluskin, Opinion Editor

Kanye West has been a curious figure in the public eye for quite some time now. Between very public feuds with his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian, and stunts like the “White Lives Matter” scandal at Paris Fashion Week. Despite such a large accumulation of incidents, Kanye has only now started to face consequences after tweeting anti-semitic comments.

On October 8, 2022 Kanye West tweeted “I’m a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I’m going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew also You guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone who opposes your agenda.”

For some context, “death con 3” is in reference to DEFCON, the U.S military level warning system. DEFCON 3 means preparing for nuclear war. West is essentially saying he wants nuclear war against Jewish people.

However, the issue with this statement is not limited to West’s intent to harm Jews. By using the word agenda he perpetuates a dangerous myth. Dr. Naya Lekht explains this myth in depth.

“There’s obviously a lot of things wrong and antisemitic regarding Kanye’s tweet, but if we focus on just the word agenda. That word carries within it a history of classical antisemitism,” Lekht said. “This idea that Jews have a secret agenda to run the world is one of the most classic or ancient tropes used against the Jewish people.”

“It first appeared in the early 20th century in Russia under the guise of a forged document called ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’” Dr. Lekht said. “The document essentially said ‘we found this book that outlines the Jewish agenda, this agenda to take over the world.’”

West using this word was no accident. Not everybody knows about “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” but everyone has heard casual antisemitic myths like Jews being money hungry or having an agenda before.

“He was very intentional when he used that word agenda,” said Dr. Lekht. “Jewish people have paid a severe price for this accusation. In Eastern Europe in the early 20th century with pogroms with waves and waves of massacres targeting Jewish communities, and of course the Holocaust. Where antisemitism reached its peak in Nazi Germany.”

The incidents incited by West’s tweet were not because of the DECON 3 comment. They were because of the word agenda. Take, for instance, when some people hung a banner with “Kanye was right about the Jews” on it above a freeway and were giving people driving by Nazi salutes.

They’re not talking about DEFCON 3, they’re talking about the Jews’ supposed agenda; that West is right about Jewish people running the world.

Another incident that Kanye has incited is Dave Chapelle’s Saturday Night Live stand-up monologue. It’s filled with antisemitic comments that would take several articles of their own to dissect. However, notice he makes the claim that Jews run Hollywood. Another claim that falls under the umbrella of the myth of Jews running the world.

Chapelle’s monologue also mocks responses to West’s tweet. He insinuates it’s ridiculous that people were upset by West saying he wanted to harm Jews since West wouldn’t actually do something like that. 

It is debatable whether or not people should have been worried about West actually harming someone. However, it is not what the media should have directed their attention to. The real danger of West’s tweet was the myth he perpetrated which has now incited antisemitic incidents.