The board, staff, volunteers and supporters of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County were appalled, shocked, angered and, yes, frightened by the patently anti-Semitic social media posts by National Football League player DeSean Jackson. For a prominent professional athlete to disseminate such words of hate and intolerance, particularly now when our nation is convulsing with racial tensions, means that the goal of respect and understanding for all people is still far down the field.
We are gratified that so many major Holocaust institutions and other organizations are working with Mr. Jackson to educate him on the fallaciousness and dangers of his post. And we are appreciative of the condemnations issued by a number of other professional athletes. We note in particular the comments of Pittsburgh Steeler player Zach Banner, who said, “When one of us does something dumb and makes a mistake like that, we need to hold each other accountable,” and “Change your heart, put your arm around people and let’s all uplift each other.” This from a Black athlete in Pittsburgh who was so affected by the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre. And and in that vein, our center has spoken out against all forms of bigotry and racism and has called for reform of our police and criminal justice systems.
The Jewish community and those dedicated to memorializing and educating about the Holocaust can and should cry out about the DeSean Jackson anti-Semitic remarks. More important, though, is recognition of the seriousness of his quotes, and condemnation from his team, the National Football League, the commissioner and team owners, coaches and players, the media and fans. In addition to the educational efforts that are reportedly underway, there must be repercussions for what he did. A tour of a Holocaust Museum is not adequate; players and owners who have made racially charged statements have paid heavy prices for their actions. An unequivocal act of anti-Semitism deserves the same.
Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County