"I don't want to offend anybody. I want to nudge them as many people in all communities as possible toward a more compassionate society", says hip-hop entrepreneur and business magnate Russell Simmons
Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons sent out a statement on Sunday, clarifying he was not intended to make a direct comparison between the condition of carriage horses in New York and the sufferings of Jews in World War II.
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“All of my politics are about compassion. All of my politics are about bringing people together,” Simmons said. “I don’t want to offend anybody. I want to nudge them as many people in all communities as possible toward a more compassionate society.”
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was among those who blasted Russell Simmons for comparing animals with people.
“The comparison of animal suffering to that of human suffering in the holocaust and in slavery is outrageous, offensive and insensitive.” Abraham H. Foxman, the director of ADL and the Holocaust survivor said in statement on Friday. “We would have expected better. As someone who has worked with the Jewish community and should be sensitized to these issues, Russell Simmons should know better than to use inappropriate comparisons to the Holocaust or slavery, particularly in New York City, which is home to the largest Jewish community in the U.S., as well as to Holocaust survivors and a large African-American community.”
The ADL added. “We are even disappointed to read that Simmons has expressed no regret for his remarks. I believe he owes an apology to the Jewish and African-American communities. The murder of six million Jews and millions of others who perished in the Holocaust, and the millions who suffered under slavery, should never be used to make a political point.”
The 57-year old Simmons, who is a longtime animal rights and civil rights activist, made the comment on Thursday during a campaign, advocating a ban on horse carriages in New York.
“It’s a Holocaust,” Simons said in Thursday’s press conference. “There were people for slavery, remember? Almost everybody. Slavery was fine. There were people who put people in ovens. There are all kinds of ethnic cleansing, people for it.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to ban horse-drawn carriages from the New York City parks. The promise played a significant role in securing his campaign victory in 2013 mayoral election, which was supported by many animal-rights activists including Russell Simmons.
Simmons has been critical of Democratic mayor recently since the promise has not been fulfilled yet.
“The horses matter,” Simmons said. “The promises you made matter. You got in office because we put you there. We put you in and we can take you out.”
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In response, de Blasio said, he is not “worried” about the Simmons remarks and he will “continue to do that work.”