Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons is the latest celeb to miss the memo, when he jumped into the debate over whether to ban New York’s horse-and-carriages, the old-fashioned buggy ride beloved by tourists but denounced as cruel to the horses by animal-rights activists.
Simmons blasted Mayor de Blasio for not making good on his campaign promise to ban the carriages.
“The horses matter”, he said. “There’s people that put people in ovens”, Mr. Simmons said outside City Hall yesterday, from the shotgun seat of one of the “horseless carriages” proposed to replace the equestrian ones. “Slavery was fine”, Mr. Simmons said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “To compare the condition of horses who are working in New York City to the death of 6 million innocent human beings in gas chambers and crematoriums is mind-boggling”. “Mr. Simmons doesn’t help his cause when he engages in outrageous hyperbole that minimizes the murder of much of my grandparents’ family”.
De Blasio had vowed as a candidate in 2013 and upon taking office to immediately shut down the “inhumane” carriage horse business, pleasing animal-rights groups who ran attack ads against a Democratic primary opponent, Christine Quinn. “F**k no, I’m not apologizing”, Simmons told the Observer.
As for Simmons’ comparisons to slavery and the Holocaust, a mayoral spokeswoman said the mayor “respectfully” disagrees, according to the Associated Press.
“I do say the suffering of those animals is on par”, he added. He continued, “That is the ongoing suffering of the 100 billion animals who are born to suffer unimaginable atrocities every year”.
“The comparison of animal suffering to that of human suffering in the Holocaust and in slavery is outrageous, offensive and insensitive”, ADL national director Abe Foxman, who himself is a Holocaust survivor, said in a statement.
Another Jewish legislator, Councilman Andrew Cohen of the Bronx, took a more empathetic tack even as he criticized Mr. Simmons statements. I believe he owes an apology to the Jewish and African-American communities. The Holocaust was the most horrendous act of genocide in modern history.