Russell Simmons Says Describing Animal Abuse as 'Holocaust' Wasn't Meant as Insult

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Russell Simmons at the 17th Annual CAST From Slavery to Freedom Gala in Los Angeles.Credit: AP

Russell Simmons said Sunday he wasn't making a direct comparison between people and animals when he made references to a holocaust and slavery in talking about animal welfare last week.

Simmons spoke at an event calling for the banning of carriage horses in New York City, and he was lambasted for saying animal abuse was a "holocaust." The Anti-Defamation League was among those criticizing him.

He told The Associated Press that he wasn't comparing the conditions of carriage horses to the experiences of Jews in World War II or to slavery. The committed vegan and animal rights activist said he was talking more broadly about animals globally and the conditions they face.

"All of my politics are about compassion," he said. "All of my politics are about bringing people together."

He said he didn't intend to insult anyone with the word holocaust. He said he would use different phrasing in the future and would be willing to work in the animal rights community to find the words.

"I don't want to offend anybody," he said. "I want to nudge them, as many people in all communities as possible, toward a more compassionate society."

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