FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich., Nov. 3, 2022 — The Detroit News published an antisemitic opinion piece last week written by Karen Dumas that labeled Kanye West a victim of cancel culture after he tweeted he was going to “go ‘death con 3’ on Jewish people.” Dumas’ column argued that canceling people because of their opinions and the things they say is dangerous to free speech. She opened her column by stating, “Like so many of our rights, free speech has become a glaring contradiction and basis for selective exclusion. The most recent example is Kanye West.” The second sentence was eventually removed from the News’ website with an editor’s note stating that the column was edited from the original to “remove an unintentionally offensive comment.”
“As a state representative, I understand and believe in the importance of our constitutional right to free speech,” said state Rep. Samantha Steckloff (D-Farmington Hills). “Our thoughts and words are protected from government persecution; however, freedom of speech doesn’t protect a person from the consequences of their own words and actions.”
After the News’ opinion piece was published, Dumas attempted to backpedal, claiming that the article wasn’t meant to defend West, and that she should have used another example to make her point. However, it’s clear that the global outrage West is experiencing at least inspired her column, as she wrote, “Disagreeing with something or someone doesn’t make (their opinion) or them wrong. It simply means others have a different set of lenses through which they are seeing things.”
“There’s nothing to debate — antisemitism is wrong and endangers the safety and lives of Jews everywhere,” Steckloff added. “The Detroit News is one of the largest media platforms in Michigan. I fear that its decision to, at best, offer its platforms to people who excuse and defend antisemitism, and at worse, help amplify the voices of actual antisemites, is only going to lead to a greater acceptance of attacks on the Jewish community.”
Last year, hate crimes and attacks against Jews nearly tripled in parts of the nation. Michigan ranked fifth highest in the nation for antisemitic incidents. The Anti-Semitism Worldwide Report for 2021 found a significant increase in antisemitic hate crimes in most countries with large Jewish populations — citing social media as a clear catalyst for the widespread lies and incitement of violence that lead to Jews being harassed and physically assaulted, and synagogues vandalized.
“No one should feel comfortable spreading hate or misinformation,” Steckloff said. “Antisemitic hate speech is not and should not be protected from criticism, backlash and condemnation. We must condemn all forms of antisemitic rhetoric, no matter who says it, every time it happens.”