In an interview with Vulture’s David Marchese, published January 24th, R&B singer Erykah Badu said that she “saw something good in Hitler.” Um…come again?
Badu was explaining to Marchese that she likes to consider herself someone who can see all sides of a situation. She used Louis Farrakhan as an example, stating that she respects how he turned the Nation of Islam onto “clean eating, clean living, and caring for their families.” The singer noted that Farrakhan has “flaws” (referring to his anti-Semitism), but she’s not responsible for those flaws. Badu contended that her respect for Farrakhan’s actions does not mean that she is also an anti-Semitic person.
When asked to elaborate, Badu stated that she believes Hitler’s “good side” was that he was a “wonderful painter.”
Badu then showed empathy for Hitler by reimagining her daughter Mars’ childhood. She said that if Mars was in an abusive home like Hitler’s home growing up, she can imagine that environment would spawn the same hatred.
Marchese responded by telling Badu that she was seemingly turning empathy into “empty abstraction.” He asked her why she would fuel the fire by making a statement like this during a time of social unrest, and a time when hateful thinking is running rampant.
“I don’t care if the whole group says something, I’m going to be honest,” the singer continued. “I know I don’t have the most popular opinion sometimes.”
You can read Badu’s entire interview with Vulture here.
It’s great that Erykah Badu wants to see situations from all sides. But there’s a fine line between professing empathy for hateful people and justifying their behavior — and that is a dangerous line to walk.