Rabbi Abraham Cooper opened up about his phone call with Nick Cannon, who lost his job as host of MTV's Wild 'N Out after he made anti-Semitic comments on the most recent episode of his Class podcast. Cannon initially issued a defiant statement on the controversy, but later issued an apology on Twitter after he spoke with Cooper, the Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization. Cooper told the Jewish Insider Cannon is "finally owning up" to his actions.
Before he spoke with Cannon, Cooper sent him a list of hateful and anti-Semitic remarks Louis Farrakhan, whom Canon cited, has said. Cooper told Cannon he had to read the list before they could talk of the phone. "If someone is interested in talking and moving forward and doing things together, the first thing that has to happen is there has to be an apology," Cooper said, adding that he plans to meet Cannon in person soon.
During the phone conversation, Cooper said he gave Canon a "Judaism 101" lesson. "Which is, I think one of the greatest gifts that we gave to the world is the notion that a person can change and you can repent and you do so by owning up to what you did," Cooper explained. The rabbi said he also told Cannon that Jewish people can be members of all races.
"Whatever changes are going to take place, are not going to be dictated by a rabbi, or any Jew for that matter," Cooper told the Insider. "I also emphasized that Judaism is not a race, we’re a people, of all kinds of colors. And the idea of reducing everything through the lens of race is a bad thing."
Cannon made his controversial remarks Tuesday morning during an interview with former Public Enemy member Richard "Professor Griff" Griffin. While the two talked about anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, Cannon said Black people are the "true Hebrews." The Masked Singer host also said "people that don't' have [melanin] are a little less" and said people without melanin are similar to "savages." After the comments sparked immediate outrage, Cannon refused to back down, writing on Facebook that "Anyone who knows me knows that I have no hate in my heart nor malice intentions."
ViacomCBS fired Cannon, who then issued an apology on Twitter after speaking with Cooper. "On my podcast, I used words & referenced literature I assumed to be factual to uplift my community instead turned out to be hateful propaganda and stereotypical rhetoric that pained another community," Cannon wrote in one tweet. "For this, I am deeply sorry but now together we can write a new chapter of healing."0comments
On Thursday, Cannon said he was stepping back from his radio show and thanked the "Rabbis, community leaders and institutions who have reached out to me to help enlighten me." He later added, "Their input and friendship will help me as I further commit myself to more profound learning and towards strengthening the bond between the Black and Jewish cultures every day going forward."
Despite this situation, Cannon will remain the host of Fox's The Masked Singer following his apology. "On that basis and given a belief that this moment calls for dialogue, we will move forward with Nick and help him advance this important conversation, broadly," the network said. "FOX condemns all forms of hate directed toward any community and we will combat bigotry of any kind."