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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: You Can’t Be Both Anti-Racist And Anti-Semitic
OS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Celebrates New Book "The Empty Birdcage" at Barnes & Noble at The Grove on September 24, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images)
Photo by Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images

NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had a pointed message for celebrities who speak out against racism, but turn a blind eye to anti-Semitism, particularly that of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan: you must acknowledge all forms of discrimination.

Abdul-Jabbar penned a scathing column in the Hollywood Reporter Wednesday, taking celebrities like Ice Cube, NFL player DeSean Jackson, and, most recently, television star Nick Cannon to task for embracing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories while publicly speaking out about anti-black racism.

According to Abdul-Jabbar, the “blind eye” many celebrities and sports figures are turning towards anti-Semitism puts the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole at risk, and those who fail to correct figures like Jackson, who faced only a minor punishment from his team, are allowing discrimination to flourish.

“Recent incidents of 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. “Given the New Woke-fulness in Hollywood and the sports world, we expected more passionate public outrage. What we got was a shrug of 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 went on. “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.”

Among the top offenders, Abdul-Jabbar also lists Chelsea Handler and other white celebrities who recently posted a video from one of Louis Farrakhan’s speeches as a way of proving they’d received instruction in how to be better allies to minorities facing oppression.

“June continued to bust out all over with anti-Semitism when performer Chelsea Handler, herself Jewish, posted videos of Farrakhan to her 3.9 million followers,” he said. “That means almost 4 million people received a subliminal message that even some Jews think being anti-Jewish is justified.”

Abdul-Jabbar does not mention Nick Cannon, likely because Cannon’s rant, which was both anti-white and anti-Semitic, aired after Abdul-Jabbar had already turned in his column. Regardless, Cannon now finds himself out of a job after ViacomCBS terminated their relationship with the reality television star.

“While we support ongoing education and dialogue in the fight against bigotry, we are deeply troubled that Nick has failed to acknowledge or apologize for perpetuating anti-Semitism, and we are terminating our relationship with him,” Viacom said in a statement. “We are committed to doing better in our response to incidents of anti-Semitism, racism, and bigotry. ViacomCBS will have further announcements on our efforts to combat hate of all kinds.”

Abdul-Jabbar reached the same conclusion.

“No one is free until everyone is free,” he said. “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.”

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