Professors on danger of Ye’s antisemitism


Professors Jennifer Talarico and Ilan Peleg say it is important for colleges to call out antisemitic behavior like Ye’s. (Photo courtesy of the New York Post)

The airwaves have been dominated by discussion of the recent antisemitic antics of rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West. Many professors explained that his behavior is not simply chalked up to a celebrity seeking media attention. Instead, they argue, it is rooted in a longstanding societal problem: institutional antisemitism. 

Professor Jennifer Talarico, head of the psychology department, said that antisemitism, as well as different forms of “othering” of specific racial, ethnic or religious groups, is ingrained in society. 

“I would certainly say that his speech is of a kind that you would see in anti-Black rhetoric or anti-queer rhetoric,” Talarico said. “That sort of ‘in group,’ ‘out group’ dynamic where we are demonizing a population, we are stigmatizing a population. We are trying to delineate one population as being ‘them.'”

Professor Ilan Peleg, a professor of government and law and chair of Jewish studies, had a similar sentiment. 

“There is quite a lot of hate culture that, unfortunately, has emerged in this country over the last probably 10 or 15 years or so, and I think antisemitism is one of its reflections,” Peleg said. “Of course, [it is] one of the most disturbing part[s] of hate culture, that, unfortunately, too many people adopt.”

Fear has emerged that Ye’s actions will heighten antisemitism, particularly in younger generations. 

“That sort of teenage, early twenties years are particularly profound for identity development, for event resonance,” Talarico said. “The public events that [occur] when you’re in your teens and 20s are going to have an impact on your worldview as you age and develop beyond that [age].”

Both Peleg and Talarico also feel that it is important for institutions like colleges and universities to be active in calling out behavior like Ye’s and become a part of the meaningful condemnation of problematic, hateful rhetoric towards social groups. 

“I think it’s very important, especially in the institution of higher learning, to deal with those kinds of phenomena,” Peleg said. “I think there’s a verbal violence element to the kind of language that is being used very often. And I think that we have an obligation as an institution of higher learning of working against that.”