Nike issued a statement Monday condemning hate speech following Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving’s promotion of an anti-Semitic film on his social media accounts last week.
“At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn all forms of anti-Semitism,” the company, which supports Irving, said in a statement to Mike Vorkunov of Athletics.
Irving posted links and screenshots from the film Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America to his social media accounts last Thursday. The film is full of anti-Semitic tropes and includes the false claim that many powerful Jews “worship Satan or Lucifer.”
Irving’s release of the anti-Semitic film came in the immediate fallout from the controversy surrounding rapper Kanye West, who lost billion-dollar business deals with Gap and Adidas after making derogatory remarks about Jewish people.
Nike did not say whether it plans to sever its relationship with Irving, who has been with the brand since his rookie season. ESPN Adrian Wojnarowski reported in May that Nike was unlikely to extend its relationship with Irving after his contract with the brand expires next year.
In a tense back and forth with a journalist On Saturday night, Irving defended his right to make the post and denied allegations of anti-Semitism.
“I’m not going to give up everything I believe in,” Irving said. “I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have a whole army around me. … Did I do something illegal? Did I hurt someone? Did I hurt someone? Do I come out and say I hate a specific group of people? »
The NBA and Nets organization, including Governor Joe Tsai, released statements condemning anti-Semitism following the controversy. (The NBA statement did not mention Irving by name.)
Irving also doubled down on an Alex Jones conspiracy about secret societies in America, saying what Jones claimed was “true.” Neither Jones nor Irving has provided plausible evidence for the existence of this so-called “New World Order”.
Jones, a far-right conspiracy theorist best known for being the founder of InfoWars, is one of the internet’s most dangerous disinformation purveyors. He was recently ordered to pay nearly $1 billion to family members of the Sandy Hook school shooting after claiming the children were government-hired actors.
Although Irving said he couldn’t stand Jones’ claims about the Sandy Hook shooting, he didn’t back down from the reviled radio host’s other conspiracies.
Rather than understanding the impact of his remarks, Irving shied away from his responsibilities and claimed he wasn’t ‘promoting’ anything despite exposing a little-known anti-Semitic film to his more than 20 million followers on social networks.
There has been an increase in anti-Semitic violence following West’s rhetoric, and Jews are consistently the most targeted religious group for hate crimes in the United States.
It’s become clear that Irving either doesn’t recognize the power his words can have or just doesn’t care about the potential impact.