Music mogul Russell Simmons was close with Donald Trump for many years. Now he says Trump’s angry rhetoric has made them rivals and reveals deeper truths about American politics. Even if Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton defeats Trump, his effect on our politics will prove lasting.
Russell Simmons: You asked me if Donald Trump is a happy man. He seems to be happy. I think he believes himself as much as we all believe ourselves. I don’t know him to be the kind of racist that – he’ll probably flip – who knows if he actually wins the nomination he’ll say something like if the King of England was next door or the British were next door I’d build a wall. That would make everybody say oh my God, that’s, you know, a nationalist, not a racist. He would change his rap. He would disavow his endorsement from David Duke. He would change. I think he’s trying to win. I think America likes the frank talk. It’s divisive. It’s sad that he’s where he is and that America buys into it. So many people buy into it.
You could say oh I’m glad he’s going to be a nominee because Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton could beat him. But you could also say that the damage he’s done, the amount of hate he’s spewed up is in our midst, it’s around us. People wouldn’t say the shit they say now if it were not for him promoting it in a way that it’s okay to say this about Muslims, about Latinos. The underhanded remarks that speak to antisemitism, that speak to racism. Those things you couldn’t say as a candidate.
Before you know it we all the work that people have done to promote equality for their gender, for their race, for their particular modulized position, you know, white supremacy is a hell of a thing. If you’re a white male you can say politically correct doesn’t matter. As an artist I never thought it mattered. But it’s not politically correct and you’re running for office and all these political and social things come up. And if you’re a woman you’re in trouble. If you’re gay you’re in trouble. If you’re Latino you’re in trouble. If you’re African American or Muslim or Jewish you’re in trouble. Once politically correct goes out the window the only person safe is a white male. And that’s a very scary thing that a candidate doesn’t have to be politically correct because his job is to promote the same freedom and equality that people fought for. Everybody’s fought to retain, to stop certain kind of speech. Not from everybody, just from our leaders, just from the top down that we resonate inclusive, loving, compassionate behavior.
That’s what we want from the top down. And people can have opinions but the top down. Compassionate, loving speech. Inclusive speech. And Donald Trump has not given us any of that. But because of that he’s gotten people to think and then say and would be willing to act on ideas that we are afraid would destroy this compassionate, loving, equalitarian society that we want to build up we worked hard to get, to move toward. So I’m very afraid of his candidacy and what it represents because the damage is already done.