NBA Hall of Famer says the ‘shocking lack of massive indignation’ over anti-Semitic outbursts by Black personalities like Ice Cube and others ‘perpetuates racism.’
By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel
One of the greatest basketball players of all time has given an insightful and eloquent warning that the lack of attention to anti-Semitism is helping to perpetuate racism in America.
Los Angeles Lakers all-star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a columnist for The Hollywood Reporter and wrote a stern warning this week that there was an alarming connection between hatred of Jews on social media and Black Lives Matter.
“Anti-Semitic tweets and posts from sports and entertainment celebrities are a very troubling omen for the future of the Black Lives Matter movement, but so too is the shocking lack of massive indignation,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote.
The six-time NBA champion said he was shocked at the lack of response from people in Hollywood and the sports world who should have been highly aware of the hate comments and reacted as vociferously as they would other forms of racism.
“We expected more passionate public outrage. What we got was a shrug of meh-rage,” he wrote.
Abdul-Jabbar even has a new term for the apathy shown towards anti-Semitism: the Apatholypse – apathy to all forms of social justice.
“After all, if it’s OK to discriminate against one group of people by hauling out cultural stereotypes without much pushback, it must be OK to do the same to others. Illogic begets illogic,” he said.
The icon of excellence in basketball said recent anti-Semitic posts by rapper Ice Cube and NFL player DeSean Jackson should have been “laughed at by anyone with a middle-school grasp of reason,” but he was alarmed when former NBA player Stephen Jackson agreed with DeSean Jackson.
Abdul-Jabbar slammed Stephen Jackson for his support for the “anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan,” leader of the Nation of Islam.
“That is the kind of dehumanizing characterization of a people that causes the police abuses that killed his friend, George Floyd.”
Abdul-Jabbar is Muslim, having converted in the 1970s.
The NBA legend also noted that others like performer Chelsea Handler and some of the people in President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign have also fallen into the trap of posting anti-Jewish tropes.
“These famous, outspoken people share the same scapegoat logic as all oppressive groups from Nazis to the KKK: all our troubles are because of bad-apple groups that worship wrong, have the wrong complexion, come from the wrong country…,” he said. “It’s so disheartening to see people from groups that have been violently marginalized do the same thing to others without realizing that perpetuating this kind of bad logic is what perpetuates racism.”
Abdul-Jabbar said apologizing was not enough: “Celebrities have a responsibility to get the words right. It’s not enough to have good intentions, because it’s the actual deeds — and words — which have the real impact. In this case destructive impact.”
“In 2013, there were 751 reported hate crimes against Jews, but by 2019 the number had nearly tripled to 2,107. That same year, a gunman in San Diego entered a synagogue and murdered one person while wounding three,” the basketball Hall of Fame member noted.
“The lesson never changes, so why is it so hard for some people to learn: No one is free until everyone is free. As Martin Luther King Jr. explained: ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.’ So, let’s act like it. If we’re going to be outraged by injustice, let’s be outraged by injustice against anyone.”