Three-time pro-bowler and Eagles receiving standout DeSean Jackson shocked the NFL world last night. The 34-year-old Jackson posted a passage on Instagram from a book by Louis Farrakhan, a known radical anti-Semite. He highlighted a passage that falsely stated that a quote that followed was said by Hitler.
As both a (relatively) observant Jew and a hardcore Eagles fan, I went through several phases after reading Jackson’s posts. At first, I experienced a wave of surprise, which was then followed by anger. I was disgusted that fellow fans dismissed his hurtful words solely because “Hitler didn’t really say that”. It is heartbreaking to see a childhood hero thoughtlessly delegitimize your people on principle.
To quote an Instagram comment I read, “You said what you said and you only stated facts!”. Another read “When it comes to Jews and highlighting Jewish Racism towards gentiles you get wrongfully forced to apologize? They run this media and entertainment, banks, all that.”
It surely is troublesome that when Jews are falsely accused and generalized about, no one comes to their aid. Instead, those who slander us are praised and exonerated, commended for their bravery.
I respect his seemingly heartfelt apology. He thoughtfully wrote “I will fully educate myself and work with local and national organizations to be more informed and make a difference in our community”. However, I have trouble accepting it. Jackson is an eleven year NFL veteran. He has gone through lots of training on how to address the press and public. He should know better than to thoughtlessly post something so offensive. As an athlete with such an expansive platform, it was irresponsible of him to act so carelessly.
What troubles me is that Jackson later doubled down before deleting his argument. He simply took Hitler’s name out of the passage and emphasized what was perhaps the most offensive sentence. This quote said “They will extort America, their plan for world domination won’t work if the negroes know who they were”. “They”, of course, refers to the Jewish people entirely.
I find it ironic that a man who stressed the importance of “equality” implied that one group was plotting to dominate the world. I find it repulsive that no teammate or fellow player called him out on this. Lastly, I find it scary how this series of posts exposed such a hateful side of social media.
“I just want to first off extend an apology on behalf of me and what I stand for, because you know, I’m one that’s fair and I never want to put any race down or any people down. I really didn’t realize what this passage was saying. Hitler has caused terrible pain to Jewish people like the pain African-Americans have suffered. We should be together fighting anti-Semitism and racism. This was a mistake to post this and I truly apologize for posting it and sorry for any hurt I have caused.”Desean Jackson’s Apology
Personally, I think Jackson should be cut. However, he most likely will not be, due to several factors. To begin, he is known for being a highly respected teammate and electric on-field presence. It would also be a bad look on the Eagle’s behalf if they were to release him after letting Riley Cooper slide years ago. Cooper, a white receiver, had videos released of him maliciously saying the n-word repeatedly. While I do not think that his staying on the squad was justified, that should not set a precedent for Jackson and others to get away with such harmful words.
We need to start taking antisemitism much more seriously. As the world gets progressively more toxic, and as social media’s influence expands, people become more radical. Those who are radical tend not to be as tolerant of different groups. In the sports world, it is our role as fans to build tolerant and welcoming communities. Sports should be a means of communal bonding that we use to bring ourselves up. Unfortunately, it appears that sports have become nothing more than a fuel to the constantly growing fire that is racism, intolerance and hate.