Cuomo: United solution needed to fight antisemitism


(NewsNation) — The problem is real, but we need to get on the same page about the solution.

Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, reminded us that antisemitism is alive and unwell. We saw reports of the uptick of hate online, faceless hateful spewing, and we saw the banners and heard the horns of those speeding away during antisemitic demonstrations in Los Angeles supporting Ye.

These are the same guys who were front and center in political rallies for the last couple cycles, posing as patriots, pawns for resistance during the pandemic. They can’t be dismissed as empty animus. Four years ago this week, 11 innocent people were killed in Pittsburgh as they worshipped at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

The question is what to do when people have these ideas in a media environment where access is open to everyone all the time everywhere. The problem is compounded by the situation being weaponized, like everything else these days, by politics. The result is we have a free speech fiasco.

Just like with Ye, the right suggests it stands for free speech even if it means defending, or promoting, white nationalism or even allowing for flagrant antisemitism. It just so happens that people who tend to respond to this rabid talk are their voters, more often than not. Conservatives are making a clever play and abusing a signature freedom in the process.

George Orwell wrote, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” We always applaud the notion that we will fight to the death to defend the right of someone to say something we don’t agree with. There is a virtue at play, but it seems like we are only playing at it because of the deafening silence after Jan. 6 and the resulting lies about the 2020 election. The right has the cover of the Constitution as well as convenience.

The law certainly has given expansive protection to all kinds of hate speech, so how to do we protect the right while rejecting what is not right? The answer to the right’s penchant for allowing political poison is an equal and opposite response from the left. In no small irony it is the denizens of diversity and expansive thinking that are saying “less is more.”

The left has been seen as increasingly shutting people down on campus, on TV, and by cancellation — crowd-sourced consequences for what they don’t like, often pressuring media and corporate entities to act on the shockwaves on social media. CAA talent agency — Ye’s agents, and mine as well — dropped Ye. Balenciaga did, too, and now Adidas is on the block.

Ye said during a an interview with the “Drink Champs” podcast about Adidas, “Ok so I am, uh, 68% of Adidas online sales … The thing about me and Adidas is like, I can literally say antisemitic s— and they can’t drop me … Now what?”

Boy, he is asking for it. I think he wants to get canceled. He wants to be the victim. He doesn’t need the money but is desperate for the martyrdom.

It is on purpose and maybe also fueled by unchecked illness. You can be bad and sick at the same time. One can exacerbate the other, but it doesn’t excuse the hate and it may explain how little control he has over it.

It is not just his ratings and rantings that deserves notice, but the reaction from many as well. Some have recorded interviews with him that won’t air for fear of joining him, perhaps. This is the freeze out answer, not giving him platforms. It’s very dicey. You can empower what and who you pretend to ignore.

Proof: The free speech warriors on the right who cash in on being closed out. Social media is full of them. And yet, is the better choice to silence Ye? I think that gives him what he wants and boosts his importance, so I did something different by having him on my show.

I don’t freeze out, I drown out. I am for more speech, more debate, more testing. Drown out the ridiculous, the false and the flagrant with better ideas. Don’t give them the cover of being canceled or cut off.

On one level, Ye was an easy case because his notions are false about Jewish people. It doesn’t matter that I count many of the faith as family and have a strong affinity for the culture and respect the creed. We defend minorities here, especially those who are targeted.

Yes, it is uncomfortable to give his ideas an audience, and even a little scary because you will risk having the wrong people excited by their ideas getting oxygen. However, you also have the chance to remind them that they are the disrespected few whose ideas are easily defeated. While they likely won’t change their mind, you also remind the rest of us of our common concern and the collective will to be better than the lesser few.

Besides, the platform argument was already moot. Ye had been given much bigger platforms than any I could offer, and has more reach than almost any other human online. So, the task was to counter, not to cancel. The ideas were out there and too often allowed unchecked.

Same for Ye’s false facts about George Floyd. Floyd may have been lionized by some and that doesn’t have to be agreed with, but the fact that he was not a model citizen and may have had drugs in his system does nothing to erase what we all saw: A cop crushing him for minutes and others helping or hapless. Why would somebody want to twist that truth? It’s the worst kind of self-promotion and deception.

So, the decision for me was to have him on, shut him down and drown out his ignorance with the reality that the majority are here to put those ideas away. And no, that is not already understood, but it must be because of our politics that are ugly with division. You saw that in how easily he was promoted by one half of our political system and given a chance to vomit vitriol without a gut check.

We should be one the same page: Let the best idea win. However, our politics has us questioning everything, and we are so twisted up and confused about our principles that we are in the midst of an election that we all agree is about protecting democracy, but we are completely split about who the threat is.

We see this conundrum of what is more of a concern. The problems we see, the perceived solution, it all gets jumbled. The Democrats should be in trouble in this midterm. First-term presidents almost always lose seats, after all. But the Jan. 6 attack, the collective silence on the right and the attack on reproductive rights gave Democrats a chance to make a case. However, their collective set of wants that is cast as “wokeism” may be more of a burden than a benefit.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not of NewsNation.

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