TV host, actor, and rapper Nick Cannon drew fire over the weekend when a recent video of his radio show, Cannon’s Class, surfaced containing antisemitic rhetoric.
According to Forbes, the popular host of Fox’s The Masked Singer and former host of NBC’s America’s Got Talent “added fuel to the already simmering debate about the state of Black-Jewish relations in America.” ViacomCBS severed ties with Cannon on Tuesday after he refused to apologize for the antisemitic remarks.
On his show, Cannon hosted former Public Enemy member Richard “Professor Griff” Griffin, who got kicked out the rap group in 1989 for making antisemitic comments in a 1989 Washington Times interview, including the assertion Jews are responsible for “the majority of wickedness that goes on across the globe.”
The decades since have apparently done little to erode Griffin’s hatred of Jews, as he spent the time on Cannon’s show waxing antisemitic. The two referenced conspiracy theories about Jews, about “going as deep as the Rothschilds, centralized banking, the 13 families, the bloodlines that control everything even outside of America.”
Later, Cannon talked about “giving too much power to the ‘they'” — which he explained is the “illuminati, the Zionists, the Rothschilds.”
Griffin said Semitic language and people “have absolutely nothing to do with any white people,” which in turn prompted Cannon to remark “the Semitic people are black people.”
Antisemitism charges are leveraged by Jews to cause “division,” they said, before Cannon claimed that black people are the original Semites and that therefore nothing he was saying could possibly be “misconstrued” as antisemitic.
“It’s never hate speech, you can’t be anti-Semitic when we are the Semitic people,” Cannon said. “When we are the same people who they want to be. That’s our birthright.” Cannon continued, “We are the true Hebrews.”
The two then embarked on a bizarre extended metaphor involving a “stolen bike” — apparently referencing black people’s Semitic heritage which was stolen by Jews and needed to be reclaimed.
“You convinced other people that that’s your bike… you gone and painted that bike, put some new wheels on it, so it doesn’t even look like my bike. How do you know it’s my bike? Simply because there are documents,” Griffin said.
“When you hear Michael Jackson saying hike me, kike me, you can’t say that,” Griffin went on, prompting Cannon to say scornfully, “that’s hate speech.”
“We’re not saying anything hateful,” Cannon said.
“The people that don’t have [melanin] are a little less,” Cannon said, adding that “when they were sent to the mountains of Caucasus … The sun then started to deteriorate them so then, they’re acting out of fear, they’re acting out of low self-esteem, they’re acting out of a deficiency.”
“So, therefore, the only way that they can act is evil. They have to rob, steal, rape, kill in order to survive. So then, these people that didn’t have what we have — and when I say we, I speak of the melanated people — they had to be savages … They’re acting as animals so they’re the ones that are actually closer to animals. They’re the ones that are actually the true savages,” Cannon added.
Cannon also praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has been described Jews as “termites,” members of the “Synagogue of Satan,” and claimed that Jesus called the Jews “the children of the devil.”
According to the Forbes report, “Cannon’s own comments show a shocking ignorance of the history of the Jewish people, and a dismaying amount of belief in anti-Jewish conspiracy theories.”
The report continued:
While there has always been an uneasy aspect to Black-Jewish relations in America, the two groups are also natural allies in the fight for racial and social justice. And while it is critical that both sides find ways to navigate the people and problems that divide them, Minister Farrakhan being one of them, it is also critical that they come together around common knowledge and respect.
By using his powerful celebrity platform to host hate and to spread conspiracy theories, Cannon is not only failing to bring the two groups together, he is deepening the divide. Is this the real Nick Cannon who has been unmasked?
Cannon posted a response to the outcry on Facebook for his comments on Monday, saying, “I encourage more healthy dialogue and welcome any experts, clergy, or spokespersons to any of my platforms to hold me accountable and correct me in any statement that I’ve made that has been projected as negative.”
He came under fire for the post, which critics slammed as being a non-apology.
ViacomCBS in a statement said: “While we support ongoing education and dialogue in the fight against bigotry, we are deeply troubled that Nick has failed to acknowledge or apologize for perpetuating anti-Semitism, and we are terminating our relationship with him.”
Cannon told Fast Company magazine he planned to host several rabbis on his podcast who had reached out to him in the wake of the controversy.
“I can’t wait to sit down with some people that can help educate me and help further this conversation. I want to be corrected,” he said.
He compared his adulation of Farrakhan to that of his father.
“I love my father unconditionally,” he said, and continued, “But I condemn any hate speech. I don’t care who said it. I don’t care if my dad said it. I don’t care if Farrakhan said it. If anyone is saying something hateful or demonic, I don’t support that at all.”
Addressing the “apology,” Cannon said, “To me apologies are empty. Are you forcing me to say the words, ‘I’m sorry’? Are you making me bow down, ’cause then again, that would be perpetuating that same rhetoric that we’re trying to get away from.”