NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar addressed anti-Semitism in the sports world and Hollywood in a new column for The Hollywood Reporter. In his piece, he questioned why in the midst of the Black Lives Matters movement, there has not appeared to be much outrage against anti-Semitic messages that several prominent celebrities have shared online. Instead, running contrary to social justice, he described the response to anti-Semitism as “meh-rage.”
“When reading the dark squishy entrails of popular culture, meh-rage in the face of sustained prejudice is an indisputable sign of the coming Apatholypse: apathy to all forms of social justice,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote. “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 cited a series of tweets from Ice Cube, which contained content that Abdul-Jabbar said, “in general implied that Jews were responsible for the oppression of blacks.” He also referred to NFL player DeSean Jackson sharing anti-Semitic messages and NBA player Stephen Jackson agreeing with those sentiments. Abdul-Jabbar also called out Stephen Jackson’s support for “the notorious homophobe and anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan. That is the kind of dehumanizing characterization of a people that causes the police abuses that killed his friend, George Floyd.”
Abdul-Jabbar also said that Chelsea Handler shared videos of Farrakhan to her wide social media audience. “That means almost 4 million people received a subliminal message that even some Jews think being anti-Jewish is justified,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote.
“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,” he 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.”
He concluded by pointing out that history continues to repeat itself. “The lesson never changes, so why is it so hard for some people to learn: No one is free until everyone is free,” he wrote. “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.” Read Abdul-Jabbar’s full THR column.