On behalf of the editorial team at Mental Health Affairs, I’d like to address Kanye West’s antisemitic comments on Twitter. As many of you know, I am a member of the Jewish community and identify as a Jewish person.
Given the long trip, I wanted to check in with the world before heading out. That was when NBC’s Lester Holt broke the news. According to Lester, Kanye made some very explicit antisemitic remarks on Twitter. Given what I heard on the news, I figured I’d bring these hateful comments to my friend.
I was preparing to head out to my friend’s house in Brooklyn. These are extraordinary times for me in my busy week. On these Sundays, I have the pleasure of ‘re-re-engaging’ with the Chabad outlook on life. Every few months, I travel to East New York to his home, where he invites me and shared friends to discuss and look into the deeper meanings of our mutual lives.
My friend’s take was somewhat different than I expected. Let me say this first. Because Kanye’s hate speech was so vulgar, I presumed my friend had some emotionally driven response. The news and politicizing of Kanye’s Twitter comment haven’t phased him. He wasn’t emotionally upset or distressed in the least. My friend’s outlook and takeaway were on a completely different level. Instead, we discussed struggle, overcoming plight, and connection to god.
‘Not even Kanye can disrupt the Jewish connection to the Creator,’ my friend said, painting Kaye’s hate and endowing it with a more productive context. Today, my friend discussed the floods and Noah and the Arc in today’s weekly Torah portion. After discussing the reading, it became more apparent why my friend had this stance on Kanye. I understood why the hateful remarks didn’t bother my friend.
‘God gives us all tests, and Kanye failed the test,’ my friend summarised.
In doing so, my friend endorsed the artist for what he did for the entire world. In essence, he is signalling to the world how ignorant people are that share Kanye’s values and distorted beliefs.
My friend explained that, in the end, popular culture shouldn’t give Kanye’s remarks air time for their ignorance. This act of hate speech must be a firm reminder of why the Jewish people need to move closer to god through the teachings of Chabad.
Ultimately, propagating peace and togetherness is the goal. Peace and living in a world without discrimination must be at the forefront of our thinking. The world will always end up creating hate instead of affection toward others. I have to agree with my friend’s take.
An earlier version of this article was published in Mental Health Affairs.
Max E. Guttman, LCSW is a psychotherapist and owner of Recovery Now, a mental health private practice in New York City.