Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is criticizing fellow celebrities for casually expressing and failing to speak out against anti-Semitism, arguing that such actions are only contributing to the “Apatholypse,” which the former basketball legend defined as “apathy to all forms of social justice.”
In his latest column for The Hollywood Reporter, the athlete and activist described a number of recent anti-Semitic incidents, all occurring within the past two months, as a “very troubling omen for the future of the Black Lives Matter movement.”
The “shocking lack of massive indignation” following these incidents, especially considering “the New Woke-fulness in Hollywood and the sports world” as people protest police brutality and racism, was especially troubling, Abdul-Jabbar wrote.
The incidents he outlined include rapper Ice Cube posting a series of tweets implying that Jewish people were responsible for Black oppression, NFL player DeSean Jackson sharing a quote misattributed to Hitler on how “the Jews will blackmail America,” former NBA player Stephen Jackson defending DeSean Jackson, comedian Chelsea Handler (who is herself Jewish) sharing videos of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has long championed Black communities but also has a long history of anti-Semitism, and President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign accusing billionaire donors of Jewish descent of “pushing for ways to rig the November election.”
“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, are the wrong gender or love the wrong gender,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote. “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 went on to acknowledge that DeSean Jackson, Stephen Jackson and Handler had apologized, but others — such as Ice Cube, who maintained that he was not specifically anti-Semitic, but merely “telling the truth” and “pro-Black” — were “defiantly marinat[ing] in their own prejudice.”
“If we’re going to be outraged by injustice, let’s be outraged by injustice against anyone,” he concluded.
Journalist Jemele Hill echoed Abdul-Jabbar’s concern about celebrities’ recent anti-Semitic comments in an article for The Atlantic. And the same day that Abdul-Jabbar’s column was published, ViacomCBS fired actor and television host Nick Cannon for a podcast that “promoted hateful speech and spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories,” including suppositions that Black people were the “true Hebrews” and references to “the Rothschilds, centralized banking, the 13 families, the bloodlines that control everything even outside of America.”