Erykah Badu is known for her music and acting, but perhaps better known for her activism. Also, for that time when she feuded with Iggy Azalea.
Now she’s getting seriously slammed for some wildly controversial statements. Some of her loudest critics are people who admired her until now.
Because, well, you shouldn’t say nice things about Bill Cosby or Hitler, but you definitely shouldn’t say nice things about both of them.
Erykah Badu’s been part of controversies before. That goes with the territory when you’re an outspoken activist.
It also happens a lot when you’re, um, weird. One time she tried to kiss a reporter during a live broadcast. Like we said, weird.
But nothing that she’s said was so powerfully stunning … or, quite frankly, upsetting … as the comments in a Vulture interview in which Erykah Badu praises the “good” in Hitler and says that she “loves” Bill Cosby.
“I’m a humanist. I see good in everybody. I saw something good in Hitler.”
“Hitler was a wonderful painter.”
He was literally not. That’s why he so famously got rejected from art school.
Erykah admits that he wasn’t such a great painter. She keeps talking about HItler, though.
“Poor thing. He had a terrible childhood.”
That’s true. But so did millions and millions of people. A bad childhood might excuse weird behavior as a child or some obvious psychiatric problems as an adult. Not, um, genocide.
“That means that when I’m looking at my daughter, Mars, I could imagine her being in someone else’s home and being treated so poorly, and what that could spawn.”
It’s horrible to imagine how much worse someone you love’s life could be and where that would lead them. But if the answer is “genocide,” then there’s something wrong with them. Intrinsically.
(We’re not saying anything bad about Mars, just that Erykah is way off to the side in the nature-vs-nurture argument and needs to come back towards the center)
“I see things like that. I guess it’s just the Pisces in me.”
Ah, the old I-defended-Hitler-because-astrology-made-me defense.
“Why can’t I say what I’m saying? Because he did such terrible things?”
Yes, Erykah. Literally because he killed 11 million people in the Holocaust (6 million of whom were Jews), and because tens of millions of other people died in a war that he lead.
She clarifies that she’s not defending Hitler’s ideology in any way.
“I’m not an anti-Semitic person.”
For the record, I totally believe that. She’s not antisemitic, she’s just saying dumb stuff and digging herself deeper into a hole in the name of empathy.
And then Erykah decides to double down, by saying nice things about another absolute monster.
“I love Bill Cosby, and I love what he’s done for the world.”
We all know what sort of man Bill Cosby is. (We won’t weigh in on whether Hitler’s worse than Cosby or whether there’s a maximum amount of “awful” that a person can be, therefore making Hitler and Cosby and numerous others all on the same level)
“But if he’s sick, why would I be angry with him?”
When we call people who do monstrous things “sick,” it not only demonizes people with actual psychiatric symptoms (hallucinations, psychosis, delusions, etc), it makes an excuse for things that people consciously chose to do.
“The people who got hurt, I feel so bad for them. I want them to feel better, too.”
“But sick people do evil things; hurt people hurt people. I know I could be crucified for saying that, because I’m supposed to be on the purple team or the green team.”
Sure, if one of those teams is Team The Guy Who Drugged And Assaulted 60 Women Is Bad and the other team is Literally Just Sexual Predators.
She speaks again about how she doesn’t choose sides.
“I’m not Muslim, I’m not Christian, I’m not anything; I’m an observer who can see good things and bad things.”
We all see good and bad things. But certain bad things are enough to outweigh any amount of good.
“If you say something good about someone, people think it means that you’ve chosen a side. But I don’t choose sides. I see all sides simultaneously.”
That is right up there with Trump saying that there were good people “on both sides” in Charlottesville, when one of those sides was a group of torch-bearing Nazis changing “Jews will not replace us.”
She continues to defend her claim that she can see the alleged good in unrepentent monsters.
“People can be bad for certain things. They could be bad around children. They could be bad with power. Are those people all “bad”? Could be. Maybe they need to get kicked off the planet. I don’t know.”
If you don’t know, maybe … figure it out before you make a total ass of yourself and destroy your own credibility?
Don’t get me wrong. I totally understand what she’s going for. Hitler was reportedly nice to his dogs.
Unlike Erykah, I don’t think think that it matters, because overwhelming evil deeds trump anything else. Kind of like how a glass of water that’s 99% pure, refreshing water can be tainted by just 1% cyanide.
A lot of Erykah’s fans are wildly crushed. Even those who are only casually familiar with her career and her activism are disappointed.