Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt had harsh words for US singer Erykah Badu on Wednesday following her interview with Vulture where she appeared to defend not just Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, but Hitler.
In the interview with David Marchese, which created immediate and intense buzz on social media, Badu said she was able to find good in anyone, even Hitler.
When Marchese asked her about her controversial support of Farrakhan, Badu said she’ll “follow anyone who has positive aspects... I see good in everybody. I saw something good in Hitler.”
Marchese responded, in perhaps the only possible way: “Come again?” But the 46-year-old singer was not deterred.
“Yeah, I did. Hitler was a wonderful painter,” she replied.
“No, he wasn’t! And even if he was, what would his skill as a painter have to do with any ‘good’ in him?” Marchese responded.
Badu was still determined to find a sympathetic side to the mass murderer of millions: “Okay, he was a terrible painter. Poor thing. He had a terrible childhood. That means that when I’m looking at my daughter... I could imagine her being in someone else’s home and being treated so poorly, and what that could spawn. I see things like that. I guess it’s just the Pisces in me.”
Hours after the interview was published, Greenblatt took to Twitter to condemn the flippant, disturbing remarks.
“I also like to think that there is good in all people, but Hitler is pure evil,” he wrote. “I don’t care if he painted or was a vegetarian; Hitler is responsible for the deaths of six million Jews and a war that claimed the lives of tens of millions. Shame on you for downplaying that. You are a role model to many, and as such, you should immediately apologize for these irresponsible and misguided comments.”
The conversation about Hitler began when Marchese asked Badu about her 2008 visit to Israel, where she had been quoted defending Farrakhan, and saying he is not an antisemite.
“What you’re talking about happened in Palestine,” said Badu about her show in Tel Aviv. “But I never made a statement about Louis Farrakhan – ever.” She added that, while she was there, “journalists asked me, “Do you believe in Louis Farrakhan? Do you follow him?” Sure I do.
I’ll follow anyone who has positive aspects. He single-handedly changed half of the Nation of Islam to clean eating, clean living, caring for their families. He has flaws – like any man – but I’m not responsible for that. I said I’ve appreciated what he’s done for a lot of black Americans.”
But Greenblatt pointed out that Farrakhan’s hateful statements are very well-known.
“You are ignoring the plain facts about Farrakhan,” he wrote. “It is well-known that he is a virulent antisemite and racist.” Greenblatt then provided a link to an ADL collection of Farrakhan’s quotes, including calling Jews satanic and alleging that they control the United States and use their power for evil.
But all Badu had to say was that “I’m not an antisemitic person. I don’t even know what antisemitic was before I was called it. I’m a humanist.”
Later, Badu jumped back to the earlier conversation, asking Marchese if she offended him earlier “when you thought I was defending antisemitism?” When he said he was worried “as a Jew,” she interjected, “Okay, I could tell.”
“Is it my schnoz?” Marchese asked.
“Just, you got a whole Jewish thing,” she responded.
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” he replied. “It is,” she said. “A sexy Jewish thing.”