Sports | July 15, 2020 3:13 pm

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Questions Lack of Outrage to Anti-Semitism

The ex-NBA star called out Hollywood and the sports world for not speaking up

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Questions Lack of Outrage to Anti-Semitism
Los Angeles Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in February in Los Angeles. (Kevork S. Djansezian/Getty)
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When Drew Brees made a tone-deaf statement in early June about standing up for the national anthem in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement emerging into the national spotlight following the murder of George Floyd, he was ripped from all angles on social media, especially by NFL players.

About a month later, after Desean Jackson posted clearly anti-Semitic messages on social media — including a misattributed quote to Adolf Hitler — the response was much, much different. Though Jackson’s comments were called out by media members, many of the same players who tore into Brees said nothing.

Malcolm Jenkins, who called Brees “part of the problem” and said his teammate should “shut the f*ck up,” did record an Instagram video about Jackson’s posts, but with a very different tone from what he had to say in June.


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When addressing Jackson’s situation, Jenkins — who was hired by CNN to talk about issues involving race — did say the comments were wrong but did not really condemn what had happened.

The caption that accompanied the video also lacked any condemnation of anti-Semitism: “We can honor the Jewish heritage and trauma while staying focused on what matters. Jewish people aren’t our problem, and we aren’t their problem. Let’s not lose focus on what the problem truly is, and that’s that black lives still don’t matter in this country. Push this energy toward arresting and convicting the killers of Breonna Taylor and burning systemic racism to the ground.”

The lack of outrage to anti-Semitism from Jackson in the sports world and Ice Cube in Hollywood is the basis of a piece Kareem Abdul-Jabbar penned for The Hollywood Reporter.

In the piece, Abdul-Jabbar makes the case that the muted response to anti-Semitism by stars “perpetuates racism” and said the “shocking lack of massive indignation” was a bad omen for the future of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“The lesson never changes, so why is it so hard for some people to learn: No one is free until everyone is free,” Abdul-Jabbar writes. “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. If we’re going to be outraged by injustice, let’s be outraged by injustice against anyone.”

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