Larry Johnson, who played running back for the Kansas City Chiefs, is among a growing number of celebrities who are spreading anti-Semitic rhetoric.
On July 7, after DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles posted a quote on his Instagram story that said Jews would “extort” and “blackmail” America, Johnson defended Jackson, even after Jackson apologized for his post.
“Jews want to paint that ‘Anti-Semitic’ speech brush really wide to instill fear in you WHITE AMERICA,” Johnson said. In his tweet, he also referenced Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam.
Steven Jackson, a former NBA player and ESPN analyst, also defended Jackson’s Instagram story.
“He was trying to educate himself, educate people, and he’s speaking the truth. Right? He’s speaking the truth. You know he don’t hate nobody, but he’s speaking the truth of the facts that he knows and trying to educate others,” he said in an Instagram video, according to ESPN.
The Jewish Anti-Defamation League found an average of 81,400 tweets that expressed anti-Semitic beliefs between January 2017 and January 2018. The increase in anti-Semitic commentary online comes as conspiracy theories continue to spread rapidly on social media
As anti-Semitism appears to be on the rise in the United State, there’s evidence that general conspiracy theory rhetoric is increasing as well. Conspiracy theories have been thriving on social-media platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic. An April report published in the Harvard Kennedy School’s Misinformation Review found that conspiracy beliefs related to COVID-19 are widespread.
In particular, the theory which alleges that there is a deep-state cabal of elites trying to destroy President Trump, is gaining wider support. Jackson, Cannon, Ice Cube, and Johnson did not specifically reference the theory but echoed the common theme of a secret cabal controlling the world.
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice