Since October, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) documented at least 30 antisemitic incidents that directly reference Ye – the influential artist, producer and fashion designer, formerly known as Kanye West, whose antisemitic outbursts last year made headlines.
According to a new report by the ADL published on Monday, these incidents – which include vandalism, banner drops, targeted harassment and campus propaganda distributions – “demonstrate the ongoing influence of Ye’s conspiratorial, bigoted rants.”
Immediately following Ye’s antisemitic comments, which included inflammatory tropes about Jewish power and Holocaust denial, the slogan “Ye is Right” surfaced online in hashtags and antisemitic accounts. The ADL Center on Extremism tracked references to “Ye is Right” in instances of on-the-ground antisemitic vandalism and harassment across the United States.
Ye has become a shorthand for hate
These incidents, only some of which are perpetrated by known extremists, demonstrate, according to the ADL, how references to Ye, often paired with swastikas or other antisemitic slurs, have become a mainstream shorthand for the hatred of, or a desire to commit violence against Jewish people.
In January, white supremacist Groypers (a network of alt-right figures; vocal supporters of white supremacist and America First podcaster Nick Fuentes) organized a series of “Ye is right, change my mind” events on college campuses, where extremists peddle Holocaust denial and praised Hitler, all under the auspices of defending Ye’s antisemitic comments and outbursts.
According to the report, these events are part of a college ”road trip” organized largely by Tyler Russell and Dalton Clodfelter, two Groypers who often espouse antisemitic and white supremacist rhetoric. The first “Ye is right, change my mind” event was held at Florida Atlantic University in January to endorse Ye’s 2024 presidential campaign on the basis of his antisemitic remarks.
Later in January, the same individuals hosted a ”Ye is right, change my mind” event at Florida State University and hosted a similar event at the University of Alabama one day later.
During these campus events, Russell and Clodfelter gave speeches on antisemitic themes, including how Jewish organizations like the ADL are ”trying to take away” people’s bank accounts and stifling free speech. Clodfelter and Russell, who compare abortion to slavery and deny the Holocaust, encourage students to debate them on Ye’s views on Jewish power.
Ye’s antisemitic comments coincided with Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter in late October 2022, at which time the ADL noted an increase in both antisemitic content on the platform and a decrease in the moderation of antisemitic posts. According to the report, there have been over 9,400 Twitter mentions using or referencing hashtags related to the “Ye is Right” slogan. These posts have reached at least five million users on Twitter, garnering more than 19,300 likes and more than 5,000 retweets.
The top URLs shared by Twitter users who used or referenced hashtags related to “Ye is Right,” as well as those related to Ye’s 2024 presidential campaign, include links to extremist video streaming sites, online stores for unofficial YE24 merchandise and a Google Forms survey which aims “to collect contact information of college students supporting Ye.”
The ADL report indicated that “the impact of Ye’s words continues to be felt across the country,” including through vandalism and harassment incidents at K-12 schools, colleges and universities, Jewish institutions, public areas and commercial locations.
“Kanye West’s repeated antisemitic remarks and his dredging up some of the worst anti-Jewish tropes imaginable doubtlessly are having an impact and inspiring people to commit real-world acts of hate.”
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt
A sampling of incidents include an incident in La Crosse, Wisconsin in October. Someone drew “Kanye was right” and “Defcon III” on a sidewalk at the University of Wisconsin campus, as reported on local news.
In Newport Beach, California a few days later, someone wrote the words “Kanye West is right” and “Kill All Jews” alongside three swastikas on the wall of a high school bathroom. Immediately afterwards, in Jacksonville, Florida, people found graffiti reading “Kanye was right about the Jewish [sic]” near a river.
There have also been harassment incidents. After offering Ye a tour, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust received several antisemitic phone calls and emails.
In November in New York, someone texted a Jewish individual with a series of anonymous antisemitic text messages, the first of which was, “Kanye is right. F*** you [name redacted for privacy].” In addition, someone called a Jewish-owned restaurant in Los Angeles, asked for “the Kanye special” and then said, “Death to all the Jews.”
In addition, members of the Goyim Defense League, a group openly professing hatred of Jews, held a demonstration in Los Angeles in October 2022, displaying a banner that read “KANYE IS RIGHT ABOUT THE JEWS” while giving Nazi salutes.
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in response to the report on Monday that “Kanye West’s repeated antisemitic remarks and his dredging up some of the worst anti-Jewish tropes imaginable doubtlessly are having an impact and inspiring people to commit real-world acts of hate.”
Greenblatt continued: “As we have long maintained, celebrities and others who engage in spreading hateful tropes need to know their words have consequences. Unfortunately, Kanye’s decision to continue to peddle hatred against Jews is only giving encouragement to people who are already infected with hate.”