Rundown: The fallout from Wiley's antisemitic Twitter tirade

Following his appalling two-day antisemitic Twitter tirade, the grime icon has been dropped by both his management and record label, a police investigation awaits, and more continues to unfold.
Posted: 27 July 2020 Words: Alex Orr

In a story that's engulfed the entire UK music industry and Jewish community since the weekend, Grime icon Wiley has been dropped by his management company A List Management, denounced by one of his record labels Big Dada, and faces an impending police investigation following an appalling two-day social media tirade against Jewish people.

So, what happened?

Starting on Friday, the artist began tweeting about Jewish people, labelling them as “slippery gits”, comparing them to the KKK, and spouting antisemitic conspiracy theories. He also repeatedly conflated the Israel government’s actions with all Jewish people, as well as retweeted Holocaust denial propaganda. Most shockingly, he openly called for the shooting of Jewish people using the phrase “Hold this Corn”. 

To add perspective, there are half as many Jewish people in the UK as Wiley has followers, solely on Twitter.

Following an initial 10-hour rant, Twitter slapped him with a 12-hour suspension. Following this, Wiley launched into another 10-hour Tweeting binge in which he doubled down on his position, referring to Jews as “cowards” and citing his ban as proof of the antisemitic conspiracy theory that Jews 'control the world'. Relaying a series of conspiracy theories (including the recent theory that Covid-19 is merely a ploy to control society), it was clear that he showed no remorse, continuing to rally up a substantial portion of his Twitter followers: "I am not embarrassing myself at all I am standing out." 

Subsequently, he has been banned for a week, with many of his original Tweets removed by the platform for violating community standards.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism has called for his MBE for services to music to be revoked, and the police are currently investigating his actions. See a handful of his hateful Tweets below. (TRIGGER WARNING):

How has the music industry reacted?

The music industry, as a whole, has had a mixed reaction.

Initially, the response was woefully minimal. Ignoring the 10-hour delay in suspension from Twitter, publications such as NME and The Guardian failed to condemn the antisemitic nature of Wiley's diatribe themselves, instead avoiding a partisan perspective speaking only of “allegations of antisemitism”. In particular, NME focused on the very few references to Israel from Wiley, rather than the myriad of blatant abuse directed at the Jewish community in their initial report on the incident. Meanwhile, his distribution partners Warner Music have yet to comment or denounce him at the time of this article being published.

In addition, some have shown more concern than condemnation for Wiley. Lily Allen has said she is “really worried” about Wiley following the rant. The notion that this is merely an issue with Wiley's mental wellbeing should be flat out ignored. As a clear, sustained attack on Jewish people, it’s a detriment and an insult to people who suffer with genuine mental health issues to suggest so. Allen, wisely, has since deleted the video.

As the weekend has rolled on, more industry figures have come out and condemned Wiley’s actions. The Music Manager’s Forum, The Ivors, and the Musicians’ Union have all rightly deplored Wiley's outbursts, declaring a stance of solidarity with those targeted by the grime artist's abusive rant, with former label Big Dada pledging to donate royalties from the records he released as part of their roster to campaigns battling against antisemitism in the wider society.

On Monday, the response to Wiley's disgraceful social media attacks were further condemned by both musicians and politicians such as Jessie Ware, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and Priti Patel, in what has now progress into a 48-hour walkout in response to the distinct lack of response from social media companies to censor/address the tirade. 

This is a continuing story, and there's only likely to be further widespread action against the grime star's despicable furore.

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