Erykah Badu Gets Blasted for Admiring Hitler

Erykah Badu is an American singer and songwriter of some note. Primarily, she is famous for being one of the people whose success established what has become known as neo soul in the 1990s, which is contrasted with its more conventional counterpart in R&B. With that said, while Badu remains active as an artist, her name has come up in the news because of a controversial comment that she made about Hitler in an interview with Vulture.

In short, the interviewer started out by asking Badu about an old incident when she was criticized by the Israeli press for defending Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, who has been criticized for his antisemitism by a wide range of organizations out there. To this, Badu responded that Farrakhan has both positive and negative parts, meaning that she supports his positive parts without having to support his negative parts. She followed up by stating that she saw both the positive and the negative parts. However, instead of stopping there, Badu claimed that she even saw “something good” in Hitler.

Unsurprisingly, this provoked a strong response from the interviewer, who was semi-incredulous at the statement. After all, Hitler was the leader of Nazi Germany, which started a war that killed tens of millions of people as well as engaged in the industrial murder of around 6 million Jews, around 7 million Soviet citizens, around 3 million Soviet POWs, around 1.8 million Polish citizens, hundreds of thousands of Roma, hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities, and others who were seen as “undesirable” by the Nazi regime. Moreover, if Nazi Germany had been more successful, the death tolls would have been even more nightmarish, as shown by its Generalplan Ost. For those who are unfamiliar with those plans, Nazi Germany intended to remove 45 million people from Central Europe as well as Eastern Europe, whether by killing them or by sending them to Siberia, while another 14 million people would have been reduced to slaves.

Regardless, the statement resulted in a short exchange between Badu and the interviewer. For example, the interviewer pointed out that saying what Badu said about Hitler stretched the idea of empathy so thin that it was effectively rendered meaningless. Furthermore, the interviewer pointed out that Badu’s statement could provide fuel to people with antisemitic as well as other racist views, which has become particularly problematic in recent times. In spite of these points, Badu stuck to her statement that everyone has both positive and negative parts to them, including Hitler.

Summed up, it seems that Badu didn’t have malevolent intentions when she made her statement. However, it was nonetheless a remarkably foolish thing to say about something that remains a very sensitive issue for very good reasons, which was something that Badu actually acknowledged in the interview. For that matter, her statement offered no special insight that could make up for its astonishing insensitivity. Yes, Hitler and the rest of Nazi Germany were human, but that changes nothing about the countless crimes that they committed. If anything, it made those crimes even more horrific by reminding us what a normal-seeming populace can be convinced to do under certain circumstances, which is an important lesson that looks like it is fading from living memory in much of the world.

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