It looks like the criticism Montreal Alouettes' defensive tackle Khalif Mitchell took Thursday for anti-Semitic tweets, including a link to a film promoting denial of the Holocaust, has at least led to an educational moment. In the wake of the league and the team levying fines against Mitchell, he reached out to Michael Mostyn, the CEO of Jewish organization B'nai Brith Canada (which started all this with a press release Thursday complaining about Mitchell's tweets). That conversation led to Mitchell, the CFL Players' Association, and B'nai Brith Canada issuing a joint statement Friday, which included Mitchell apologizing for his actions:
Yesterday, B’nai Brith Canada issued a press release highlighting Khalif Mitchell’s posting of Holocaust denial videos and other offensive materials on his Twitter account. Khalif has since reached out to Canada’s senior Jewish human rights organization to discuss the maHer. Following a series of conversations with representatives of the Montreal AloueHes, the CFL and the CFL Players’ Association, B’nai Brith CEO Michael Mostyn had an in-depth discussion with Khalif to understand how it came to be that Mitchell was posting anti-semitic and offensive material on his Twitter feed.
“Having had an honest and open conversation with Khalif about everything that has transpired over the last twenty four hours, I have come to see that he is a very genuine individual who truly did not comprehend the deceptive nature of this vile video,” said Michael Mostyn, CEO, B’nai Brith Canada.
“I wholeheartedly apologize to all those who I know I let down by posting these videos, especially everyone who looked up to me as a professional athlete,” said Khalif Mitchell. “During the long heart-to-heart conversation I had with Michael, I tried to explain my honest desire to learn the truth. I fell into a trap by watching that video and I hope that others can learn from my very public mistake — this is a learning moment for me. “I truly do not understand the Holocaust and how a modern society could commit such evil. This is why I have pledged to work with the experts at B’nai Brith Canada over the course of the next year to educate myself about this and other human rights matters. I am commiting today to show the world who the real Khalif Mitchell is, and be a positive role model for young football fans.”
“Questions are the foundation of knowledge and we will be working closely with Khalif to answer his questions and help him achieve his goal of being a positive force for change in the community”, added Mostyn.
This doesn't excuse Mitchell's actions, which were about much more than just one tweet (and keep in mind that Twitter's gotten him in trouble before), but at least he's admitted that what he did here was wrong and looked to learn more about why it was wrong. The fine levied against Mitchell by the CFL will also be donated to a charity of his choosing. This still doesn't look good for the CFL, but as noted Thursday, every profession has people who occasionally cast it in a poor light. Hopefully, Mitchell won't be one of those going forward.