(August 2, 2020 / Jewish Journal) Actor Nick Cannon said in a July 30 Instagram post that he read former New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss’s book “How to Fight Anti-Semitism” during Tisha B’Av, calling it a “powerful read.”
Cannon began the post saying that he had engaged in “a full day of fasting, meditation, study and prayer” for Tisha B’Av. He then launched into his review of Weiss’s book.
“The words that stood out to me were ‘Anti-Semitism is fueled by the malicious but often feeds on the ignorance of the well-intentioned,’” wrote Cannon. “[I’m] asking myself, is she talking about me? Knowing that my intentions have never been hateful but recently I had fallen into the same category that the author despises and writes about like Henry Ford, Charles Coughlin, and more recently the abhorrent American Terrorist Robert Bowers, who on Oct. 27, 2018 murdered 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the author’s home neighborhood in Pittsburgh, which ultimately inspired her to write this book.”
He acknowledged that reading the book made him realize that he was not “fully educated in the space of the trigger words and coded conversation” regarding anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist conspiracy theories. The “Masked Singer” host said that Weiss’s examples in the book, which included terrorists beheading Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in 2002 and the lynching of Jewish worker Leo Frank in 1915, show “why the baseless hate for an entire community must end and that any reminding rhetoric deserves a sincere apology.”
Cannon then turned to discuss Weiss’s July 14 letter to The New York Times announcing her resignation.
“In her recent resignation letter to the New York Times she discusses ‘intellectual curiosity’ now becoming a liability in society and the challenges of ‘free exchange of ideas in a democratic society,’ could this book be skewed or reviewed as ‘one-sided’ in a much-needed discussion, perhaps?” he wrote. “I would love to have the open dialogue with Ms. Weiss on my academic podcast ‘Cannon’s Class,’ like I recently engaged with another fellow friend and ‘tweeter’ Rabbi Abraham Cooper from the Simon Wiesenthal Human Rights Center.”
Cannon concluded with a call to eradicate anti-Semitism.
“Today is a new day of improving our own words and actions towards clarity and compassion,” wrote Cannon. “All in all, this book was truly an insightful and powerful read.”
Weiss responded in a Twitter thread noting the concept of teshuvah, which is the “return to one’s higher self, to one’s ideals, to the good, to righteousness.”
“I thought of all of this as I read your thoughtful post about my book, ‘How to Fight Anti-Semitism,’” she added in a subsequent post. “It moves me that you took the time to read it and to reflect on it. I welcome your invitation to continue the conversation.”
Cannon responded to Weiss a tweet that read, “Thank you for your warm and compassionate response. I have been learning a lot about Teshuva and Atonement in recent days. Education and growth is a process, thank you for accompanying me. Shabbat Shalom.”
On July 23, Cannon had Cooper on his podcast to discuss anti-Semitism; Cannon has issued apologies about his 2019 remarks about Zionists and the Rothschilds having “too much power.”
This article was first published by the Jewish Journal.
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