The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

Pop Culture Invites Surge of Antisemitism

Peter Philpott
In a recent surge of antisemitism nationally, many have pointed towards social media and pop culture as a source of hate. “Many far-right people have gone on [X] and started just blasting all their beliefs,” Sophomore Scott Weiner said.

It goes without saying that X (formerly Twitter), has gone through some changes since tech billionaire Elon Musk took the wheel, changes that are not just limited to its name.

But since the change in ownership, many have criticized Musk for becoming overly lax on community moderation, particularly in the sphere of antisemitism and white supremacy.

“On [X], you can find anything,” said sophomore Scott Weiner, a member of the Jewish Student Connection club (JSC), who has claimed to go through a lot of hate at Creek for his religious traditions and beliefs. “Many far-right people have gone on there and started just blasting all their beliefs.”

Weiner  noticed that the difference in community moderation is clear when X is compared to other sites, like Instagram and Tiktok. “It is because of Elon Musk just repealing every single restriction there,” Weiner said.

According to Weiner, the heat of the antisemitic debate peaked with a controversial Kanye West tweet, where West said he would go “[def]con 3 on Jewish people.” West has also claimed, not just limited to that tweet, that he couldn’t be antisemitic because “black people are actually Jew[ish].”

Weiner remembered the JSC meeting after the tweet was published and went viral. “When it happened, Kanye was one of the main things we talked about. A lot of my Jewish friends are fans of Kanye, even my brother,” Weiner said. “I do not like Kanye at all. I was kind of a fan of his music, but now I barely listen to it.”

In the JSC club, Jewish students have the chance to discuss topics of activism, tradition, and antisemitism in the world of Judaism, from injustice at home to global matters. The sponsor, Michael Kahn, is a member of the nonprofit Jewish Colorado, which runs similar clubs to the JSC all around the state.

Peter Philpott

“It’s definitely a source of community,” Khan said. “About a third of the students are not Jewish, which is amazing for us as a way to build allyship.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a nonprofit focused on fighting against antisemitism nationwide. has been involved in other ways at Creek; they lead the “No Place for Hate” movement. The mountain states (Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming) regional office, lead by Scott Levin, has been particularly involved around schools recently.

“Unfortunately, there are a lot of incidents that occur. Among the ones that we see these days are the painting of swastikas on either walls or equipment or on people,” Levin said. “There’s also the things that people say and do toward each other.”

On Sept. 5, 2023, Musk threatened to sue the ADL after claiming that the organization accused him and the platform of anti-semitism.

After the statement, a pro-Jewish activism campaign titled X Out Hate responded in a public letter, signed by a group of rabbis and other Jewish leaders. The letter accused X of becoming a “breeding ground for some of the most dangerous antisemitic discourse in America,” and singling out Musk as the key figure responsible.

Levin detailed the trouble the ADL has had while handling issues that spread online.

“A challenge that we have these days is that with social media, there’s a megaphone that’s out there,” Levin said. “The problem that we have is that the power of celebrity is really far reaching with all the followers that they have.”

According to Levin, influencers like Musk and West have a far greater influence than their words; he said it made it easier to be naturally antisemitic in daily life.

“Pop culture, being as it is, is amplified through social media these days so easily,” Levin said. “It does work in a very negative way to normalize not just antisemitism, but also racism and homophobia.”

Freshman Sophie Drake believes the same. “The more normalization there is, the easier it is [to be antisemitic] because there’s fewer people to tell you you’re wrong,” Drake said.

An important question that students like Weiner have questioned is whether to support products that profit figures like West or Musk.

“It would be antisemitic to buy a Volkswagen in 1939 because now you’re just putting more money in Nazi Germany,” Weiner said. “I don’t stand for putting money in their pockets…and that’s why I don’t really listen to Kanye’s music at all.”

According to Levin, in a time filled with rising antisemitism, support for Jews and organizations like the ADL is ever more important.

“The Anti-Defamation League has had the same mission, since it was founded 110 years ago, which is both to stop antisemitism and to secure justice and fair treatment to all,” Levin said. “If we are going to make the world better for any one of us, we’ve got to make it better for all of us.”

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About the Contributor
Peter Philpott
Peter Philpott, Managing Editor & Assistant News Editor
Hey there! My name's Peter, I'm a sophomore, and I'm the USJ's managing editor and assistant news editor. I believe that the first amendment is incredibly important, and as journalists we have the right and the duty to uphold it. I am very passionate for news reporting, from small, local issues, to major politics or systemic change topics. This is why I love political/breaking news reporting, and one day I hope to be an investigative journalist. I also enjoy artistic photography in my free time. I play trumpet and mellophone and I am part of Creek's Marching Band. I'm enthusiastic to inform this school on the happenings of our community, from Capitol Hill to the quad. Also, check out my column, Peanuts and Cracker Jack, where I talk about in-depth baseball!

To contact me by email, access my portfolio, or view my photography Instagram account, click the respective buttons below.

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