BOSTON (CBS) — Over the weekend, Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson shared on his Instagram account a fake quote that’s been incorrectly attributed to Adolf Hitler. He also posted quotes from Louis Farrakhan, an activist who’s been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-Semitic extremist.
Jackson’s social media posts have drawn reactions from around the sports world. On Thursday morning, Patriots receiver Julian Edelman — one of the most prominent Jewish players in NFL history — shared his thoughts.
“I’ve got nothing but respect for his game,” said Edelman, who explained that he wanted to “take some time” to collect his thoughts before responding. “I know he said some ugly things, but I do see an opportunity to have a conversation.”
Edelman explained how despite his Jewish heritage, he didn’t embrace the culture until adulthood. That perspective has uniquely shaped his worldview.
“I’m proud of my Jewish heritage, and for me it’s not just about religion. It’s about community and culture as well,” he said. “I’m unusual, because I didn’t identify as Jewish until later in my life. Whenever I encountered hatred, it never really felt like it was aimed at me. It was only after I was part of this community that I learned how destructive hate is. Anti-Semitism is one of the oldest forms of hatred. It’s rooted in ignorance in fear.”
Edelman said that the first time he really felt that hatred firsthand came in 2011, when someone called him a Jewish slur on the football field.
“There’s no room for anti-Semitism in this world,” he said.
From there, though, Edelman sought to build a bridge — one between the Jewish community and the Black Lives Matter movement, and another between himself and Jackson.
“Even though we’re talking about anti-Semitism, I don’t want to distract how important the Black Lives Matter movement is, and how we need to stay behind it,” Edelman said. “I think the Black and Jewish communities have a lot of similarities. One unfortunate similarity is that they are both attacked by the ignorant and the hateful. It’s really hard to see the challenges a community can face when you’re not part of it. So what we need to do is, we need to listen, we need to learn, we need to act. We need to have those uncomfortable conversations if we’re going to have real change.”
Edelman continued with an offer to Jackson.
“So to that end, DeSean, let’s do a deal. How about we go to D.C., and I take you to the Holocaust Museum, and then you take me to the Museum of African-American History and Culture? And then afterwards we’ll grab some burgers and we’ll have those uncomfortable conversations,” Edelman offered. “This world needs a little more love, compassion and empathy. Take care.”