Antisemitism at the Claremont Colleges

"> Image from Minaj's lyric video for

Image from Minaj's lyric video for "Only," which glorifies Nazism.

When rapper Nicki Minaj released a lyric video for her song “Only” featuring images that glorified Nazism, it was not surprising — antisemitism is prominent in the United States and around the world, whether it be through obviously-disturbing means such as this one, or subtle acts of violence disguised as political views. What was (but perhaps should not have been) surprising, however, was the Claremont Consortium’s reaction — or lack thereof — to the video.

The 5C community is generally an accepting and tolerant one; although this campus, like the rest of the world, is far from perfect, there is a general consensus that one should not be discriminated against in any way based on gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, socioeconomic class or physical ableness. However, there is one area where the consortium continuously fails; antisemitism is, time and time again, ignored on campus, and the marginalization that Jews face is frequently not given the attention that it, just like every other denial of equality, deserves.

There is a shocking lack of dialogue on campus about antisemitism; while students of the 5Cs are quick to criticize a celebrity who shows any form of white-on-non-white racism, the fact that antisemitism is disregarded on campus reveals a side to the 5C community that it would perhaps rather leave unnoticed. Whether it be incidences like this, where a prominent celebrity’s anti-semitic acts are ignored (where were the myriad Facebook posts that usually accompany any other type of social injustice?), or acts taken by members of the 5C community, such as when an Israeli flag and multiple mezuzot were stolen from Bryan Turkel CMC ‘15, it seems that the 5C community simply does not care about this particular form of violence.

The hypocrisy of the 5C community is not a new phenomenon; while there was outrage at the words of George Will, who was recently uninvited from speaking at Scripps, there was little push back against the words of Ward Churchill, who spoke to the students of Core I last year. His presence at Scripps after his “controversial” (which is nothing more than a softer way of saying downright anti-semitic) writing about 9/11, accompanied by an in-person joke to Scripps students that trivialized the Holocaust (when he warned us, as he did in his written work, not to be “little Eichmanns”) was an unacceptable and violent addition to the Core program. Jokes like this one, as well as the glorification of the Holocaust (as in Minaj’s video) are forms of antisemitism that are allowed to slip by unnoticed all too frequently. Churchill, quite fortunately, has not been invited back to campus this year thus far, but the lack of student outrage at his presence last year cannot be excused. There is inherent hypocrisy in the idea that some forms of violence, depending on which marginalized group they target, are more worthy of one’s attention and outrage than others — a fact that the 5C community needs to learn.