DeSean Jackson's Anti-Semitic "Slip Up" You Probably Haven't Heard About

On Monday, DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles shared a blatantly anti-Semitic post to his Instagram story, adding just one more act to the long list of anti-Semitic actions that have been swept under the rug and discarded like expired milk. The post in question was a highlighted quote attributed (falsely) to Adolf Hitler, shown here.

The quote reads, among other things,

“Because the white Jews know that the Negroes are the real Children of Israel and to keep America’s secret the Jews will blackmail America. They will extort America, their plan for world domination won’t work if the Negroes know who they were. The white citizens of America will be terrified to know that all this time they’ve been mistreating and discriminating and lynching the Children of Israel.”

After receiving initial backlash from the post, Jackson deleted it and instead posted the same quote, only cropping out the first and third sentences and leaving the second sentence about Jews having a “plan for world domination.” While this quote not only plays into the very same Nazi propaganda that almost resulted in Jews being ethnically cleansed 80 years ago, the scariest part about this post is the public response it has gathered, or should I say, the lack thereof.

In a time of heightened activism on social justice issues and a much needed focus on the Black Lives Matter movement, the world seems determined to call out any injustice they catch a whiff of, unless of course, that injustice happens to be anti-Semitic. In 2018, 57.8% of religious hate crimes in the U.S. were against Jews, despite Jews being only 2% of the U.S. population. Yet we rarely hear about Jewish hate crimes. They are never trending, nor are they ever on the front page of any newspaper. In this context, it makes sense that no one would care about Jewish persecution. They simply don’t think it exists, because no one ever tells them otherwise. After the 2019 Tree of Life shooting, the world was largely silent. The same people who had been advocating for gun control were the same people who stayed silent when gun violence affected Jewish people. This begs the question: Why is it that when Jews are hurting, the media never picks up on it?

This reluctance to speak out about Jewish issues stems from an age-old trope that Jews are rich and white, and therefore don’t suffer from persecution. While this narrative is not only false, it is also hurtful to Jews of color, who are taught not to see their Jewishness as valid because they don’t match the believed whiteness of a Jew. The truth is that Jews can be any color, any race, any class, and those things don't make them more or less of a Jew.

The perceived whiteness of Jews also ignores the unique history of persecution that non-Jewish white people simply do not have. To overlook Jewish persecution simply because they are perceived as well-off and powerful is to feed into the same propaganda that got them killed off in the first place; the idea that all Jews are after power and monetary gain. These people who overlook anti-Semitism do so because they don’t know about the security guards that patrol synagogues, the bomb threats that threaten Jewish community centers or the rapes and murders of Jewish people simply for being Jewish. They don’t know the experiences of the Jewish people because they have never asked. They have never cared enough to ask. The reason why Jackson’s post was so hurtful is that it reminded Jews of what they have always known; to be a Jew fighting for justice is to be a Jew fighting alone. As for Jackson himself, there is something to be said for learning from your mistakes and actively working to ease the suffering of the community you have hurt. I do hope that he can learn from this experience and be the ally to the Jewish people that many of them have been to him.

Speaking out against anti-Semitism is not meant to detract from the Black Lives Matter movement. If anything, speaking out against anti-Semitism furthers what many social media activists have been saying for weeks: hate towards any marginalized group is unacceptable. Talking about Jewish persecution does not lessen the persecution People of Color face, nor are Jewish activists trying to compare their persecution with other kinds of persecution. They are simply calling out the hatred that they witness on a daily basis, only because once we acknowledge it can we begin to build a world without it.

To be a Jew in America is a beautiful thing but it is also a terrifying thing. As we move toward a new age of activism, let’s remember to include Jews and all marginalized groups in the conversation. Anti-Semitism did not start with the Holocaust nor did it end when Hitler died. Anti-Semitism is alive and well in this country, and it's time it gets the recognition it deserves.