Entertainment celebrity Nick Cannon found himself in hot water after spouting vile antisemitism and racism on his podcast Cannon’s Class on June 30.
After waiting two weeks for an apology, ViacomCBS finally announced they were terminating their relationship with the 39-year old actor, comedian, rapper, director and television host after Cannon “failed to acknowledge or apologize for perpetuating anti-Semitism.”
Just short of two weeks, Cannon said he took full responsibility for his comments, that he does not “condone hate speech nor the spread of hateful rhetoric” and asked experts to “correct me in any statement that I’ve made that has been projected as negative.”
Those words — which were not much of an apology, if any — prompted ViacomCBS to drop its relationship with Cannon. Fair enough. Everyone is entitled to free speech but no company is obligated to give a platform to someone with hateful ideas that go against their grain.
As Joshua Washington tweeted:
Nick Cannon getting fired is not cancel culture. It’s a company’s decision not to be an enabler of outright Jew-hatred and bigotry.
Nick is free to spout his hate filled nonsense on his own platform or on one that will have him (like NOI). No one is obligated to have him.
— Joshua Washington (@JoshWashIBSI) July 15, 2020
Two days later, Cannon issued a real apology addressing the antisemitism that is worth reading in full. (We’re still waiting for an apology for the racism.)
Here’s the short version:
“[My words] reinforced the worst stereotypes of a proud and magnificent people and I feel ashamed of the uninformed and naïve place that these words came from. The video of this interview has since been removed.
“I want to express my gratitude to the Rabbis, community leaders and institutions who reached out to me to help enlighten me, instead of chastising me. I want to assure my Jewish friends, new and old, that this is only the beginning of my education—I am committed to deeper connections, more profound learning and strengthening the bond between our two cultures today and every day going forward …
“ On my podcast I used words and referenced literature I assumed to be factual to uplift my community, but instead turned out to be hateful propaganda and stereotypical rhetoric …”
Call me naïve, gullible or both, but I believe Cannon is sincere. Even if I didn’t, the Jewish concept of teshuva (the ability to right a wrong by feeling and expressing true remorse, apologizing and pledging to avoid the same pitfall again) is a central tenet of Judaism.
How hypocritical would it be to deny one of the central precepts of the Jewish people who he so maligned?
The radical Left’s modus operandi that has taken over mainstream institutions is played out daily in one of its greatest weapons: cancel culture. Yet living in a world where forgiveness and redemption are possible surely offers a more humanist, compassionate and efficacious trajectory towards creating a society free from racism, sexism and all the other “isms” that we all abhor, both Left and Right.
The passage of time will tell if Cannon is sincere or not — hateful ideologies, if truly believed by a person, don’t usually stay dormant for long. I hope someone is educating him about the remarks he made that were racist as did the rabbis about his antisemitism.
In the end, what remains as possibly the most disturbing thing about this story is the antisemites in the entertainment and sports industries that surfaced to defend Cannon’s original remarks.
These celebrities were passionately and eloquently singled out by basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who called out the hateful diatribe by Ice Cube (who went on a 10-day antisemitic social media rant) as well as the antisemitic remarks (or support for them) by football player DeSean Jackson, ex-NBA player Stephen Jackson, rapper Diddy and actress Chelsea Handler.
As Abdul-Jabbar noted,
“These famous, outspoken people share the same scapegoat logic as all oppressive groups from Nazis to the KKK: all our troubles are because of bad-apple groups that worship wrong, have the wrong complexion, come from the wrong country, are the wrong gender or love the wrong gender. It’s so disheartening to see people from groups that have been violently marginalized do the same thing to others without realizing that perpetuating this kind of bad logic is what perpetuates racism …
“The lesson never changes, so why is it so hard for some people to learn: No one is free until everyone is free. 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.
As for me, I hope that Cannon really does teshuva and acts on his commitment “to deeper connections, more profound learning and strengthening the bond between [Jews and blacks] today and every day going forward.”
What a better world he would help create.
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