Russell Simmons Has a Stern Warning About American Islamophobia (Video)

Yesterday (October 17), Russell Simmons was the special guest on The Daily Show, and the Def Jam cofounder took the opportunity to promote his work on behalf of social justice. As the chairman of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, Simmons has, for more than a decade, worked to establish healthier relationships between the globe’s various ethnic groups, including those right here in the United States.

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Host Trevor Noah, after addressing Simmons’s many achievements in and outside of music, begins the interview by saying “what you’re here to talk about today is really special, launching a new campaign for something you’ve been working on for many years, and that is Muslims Are Speaking Out.”

Simmons responds by saying that, recently, much of the focus of his work with the Foundation has been “working on Muslim-Jewish relations,” and that now because “Islamophobia has grown so much,” he is beginning to focus on empowering Muslims around the world to come forth in an effort to destroy stereotypical portrayals in the media and elsewhere. He points to people’s general misunderstandings about the Muslim community as including the mistaken assumption that a majority of those practicing Islam are radicalized. “99.9% are not radicalized,” Simmons says, adding “it’s probably more Christians that are radicalized.” “This idea that Muslims aren’t speaking out, or that they’re not our greatest ally in our fight against terror, it’s crazy, and I think we have to share that message, and I think that will help America get over this horrible hate that we have for our Muslim communities.”

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Noah makes note that, often times, when an act of terror waged in the name of Islam occurs, many cry foul that Muslims don’t speak out against such violence, but Simmons argues that just simply is not the case. “America was moving toward a more peaceful, more loving community and collective, and then we have Trump and we have this whole push back, and partly because of Obama, for whatever reasons, people needed to blame their discomfort on someone else.” It’s then that Simmons draws parallels between America’s Islamophobia and other human-rights atrocities elsewhere, saying “it happens very quickly. It happened in Nazi Germany, it happened in Rwanda, it happened in Croatia. Shit just happened overnight. And so, this growing hate that we have here in America is something long after Trump loses the election.”

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In closing, Simmons shares a message of unity. “All of Abraham’s children are the same. The Muslims, the Jews, the Christians, the Buddhists. We’re all the same. We all have the same aspirations and hopes and desires. And that is something that, as Americans, we should want to give everybody the same rights, the same kind of freedom, the same kind of happiness that we want for ourselves. And that’s how we become more happy.”

Simmons also touches upon his staunch animal-rights activism, saying of the factory-farm industry that “our children won’t have a planet if we keep this shit up.” His very close and longstanding friendship with Trump is also brought up, as are his thoughts on Trump’s candidacy for President.

Heads can learn more about Simmons’s work by visiting the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding’s official website.