Dershowitz on Ye: Keep fringe mentality out of mainstream

[CUOMO]

(NewsNation) — During a Monday appearance on “CUOMO,” Ye said he does not believe in the term “antisemitic.” Social media giants Twitter and Instagram recently suspended the rapper formerly known as Kanye West after he made threatening posts about Jewish people.

Cuomo questioned Ye on whether he thought his words violated guidelines on the social media platforms. He replied: “I don’t believe in that term … I classify as Jew also, so I actually can’t be an antisemite.”

Cuomo confronted the antisemitic comments by saying: “I know you are intelligent and understand that when you target people because of their faith, other people may do so the same … We don’t want to tolerate that.”

To which, Ye responded: “I don’t have to understand or accept because they’re not willing to understand or accept. That’s the reason why I’m not backing down.”

Alan Dershowitz, an American legal scholar who has written extensively on the American Jewish experience, said Ye’s comments must be condemned.

“We’re seeing tremendous increases not only in antisemitic acts but in antisemitic attitudes, and it’s coming from young people. And young people are our future. When there’s bigotry against any group, it just permits bigotry against every group,” Dershowitz said.

Dershowitz said it’s important to keep those with fringe mentality out of the mainstream.

“It’s very important to understand that these are fringe people that are moving closer and closer to the mainstream. It’s so important to keep them fringe and keep them out of the mainstream and make sure that they don’t have influence on young people,” Dershowitz said.

Dershowitz fears Ye’s position as an entertainer could influence the political views of young Americans.

“What worries me so much about a great entertainer expressing those kinds of views is that people listen not only to his entertainment, but they listen to his political views, as well. That could have an influence on young people that is hard to combat,” Dershowitz said.

Also Tuesday, NewsNation’s Dan Abrams said he believes that rather than the antisemitic comments being rooted in mental health issues, Ye could be consciously strategizing, partly because he is set to acquire right-wing social media platform Parler that touts free speech and expression. Ye said he wanted to buy the app because “people are using their technology to silo any messaging they don’t agree with.”

“I want to reiterate that I believe too many are giving him a pass by attributing all his wild antisemitic comments to mental health issues as opposed to what appears to be heartfelt positions and calculated business decisions, in particular, after he was suspended on Twitter and Instagram for his attack on Jews.

Ye announced Monday an agreement to purchase Parler, which has become a sort of alternative right-wing version of Twitter with fewer guardrails and also more freedom to make dangerous racist or antisemitic comments.

“But from a purely business perspective, it seems like a smart decision for a guy whose brand appears to be morphing into far-right fringe,” Abrams said.

Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, told Abrams that antisemitism is not a symptom of the disorder with which Ye is believed to be struggling.

“This sort of, ‘I don’t like this group or this group as a whole is bad,’ that is a viewpoint that is not part of the mental illness. Now, could someone have a mental illness, and be expressing views that are ,… tainted, let’s say by their mental illness, at the same time? Yes. Should we be empathetic to their struggle with mental illness? Yes. Should we … condone and accept antisemitic and racist statements from a hugely important figure that affects so many people? Absolutely not,” Saltz said.

Saltz says mental illness is still stigmatized, and those struggling with their mental health are often dismissed, which may be how Ye feels.

“You know, if mental illness were viewed the way I view mental illness, which is you have a symptom and it needs treatment, let’s treat it. But at the same time, guess what, you have incredible potential strength, which he’s manifesting. A huge preponderance of artists and musicians and highly successful people have bipolar disorder because it helps them actually be more creative and be more innovative. You can be empathetic to the struggle, but not to a value or expression of a value that is hateful.”

Following the viral exchange with Ye, Cuomo said the conversation points to just that: Hate is on the rise, and we must come together and condemn bigotry.

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