For weeks now, rapper and fashion designer Ye, otherwise known as Kanye West, has been spewing hateful antisemitic comments. For the time being, at least, sportswear company Adidas has not cut ties with him over their endorsement deal. However, the drumbeat for them to do so keeps getting louder.
West’s reprehensible antics seem to have emboldened others to take their hatred public, as a hate group hung a banner over a Los Angeles highway this weekend, which read “Honk if you know Kanye is right about the Jews.” They also made the Nazi salute at oncoming cars.
You might think that any respectable corporation with a PR department would run for the hills to get as far away from West as possible, but Adidas has remained steadfast in the deal, even as West himself has publicly floated the idea of canceling the fashion arrangement, saying that he doesn’t believe Adidas would drop him regardless of what he says.
“The thing about it being Adidas — I can say antisemitic things and Adidas can't drop me. Now what? Now what?”
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) October 21, 2022
Anti-Defamation League chief executive Jonathan Greenblatt told The Washington Post that he held “a number of conversations with senior Adidas executives and shareholders over the weekend” about the issue and found their responses to be “insufficient.”
“At this point, we are kind of flummoxed how Adidas has dropped the ball and failed to make a clear and cogent statement about their values,” Greenblatt said. “Antisemitism should be unacceptable in any circumstance,” he said. “The fact that Adidas has not made that simple point is shocking when one considers Adidas’s history as a company that once outfitted the Hitler Youth.”
After West wore a “WHITE LIVES MATTER” t-shirt a few weeks back, the German-based company said they were “reviewing” their business deal with him and his brand, but that seems to have been the last notable announcement.
As for why they might be so hesitant to cut ties with him, Morningstar analyst David Swartz told the Washington Post that West generates an estimated $2 billion a year, which is around 10% of Adidas’s revenue.
Some have also pointed to Adidas’s origins as a supplier of clothing to the Hitler Youth during the Nazi’s reign over Germany as a potential reason they’re not so quick to distance themselves from anti-Jewish rhetoric.
Regardless, the fact that Adidas has failed to distance itself from the antisemitic rapper as he continues to spew hate unabated has garnered a lot of strong reactions, especially in the sports world where Adidas is a major player.
It is abhorrent that @adidas still hasn't parted ways with Kanye. I *hate* that the onus is so often on athletes, but I hope prominent Adidas players take a stand. Mental health issues are NOT a cover for antisemitism. Kanye's words are violent. I stand w/ the Jewish community.
— Lindsay Gibbs (@linzsports) October 24, 2022
Wrote about Adidas' silence on Kanye last week and how bewildering it was. A week later and #boycottadidas is trending.
There's no walking a tight line with this one. It's time to make a decision.https://t.co/JxN1ubc3Nk
— Michael Sykes, II (@MikeDSykes) October 24, 2022
Adidas continues its legendary silence. https://t.co/E2wiuJiJM2
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) October 24, 2022
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) October 24, 2022
I wonder when/if some of the college programs that Adidas works with start raising their voices about this. Seems like the sort of corporate relationship that would attract student government or FAR attention…https://t.co/NUYOejgL3z
— Matt Brown (@MattBrownEP) October 24, 2022
As their stock price tanks, we’ll see if Adidas eventually decides to do the right thing, even if its already too late to get credit for doing so.