Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons called out his longtime friend, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, as a “total embarrassment” in an open letter published on his website Global Grind late on Tuesday.
The 58-year-old multimillionaire and co-founder of Def Jam Records said he has been friends with Trump for roughly 30 years, but that his controversial remarks as of late, particularly on Islam and Muslims, have threatened to permanently fracture their relationship.
“My friends, both Muslims and Jews, are saying there are so many comparisons between your rap and Hitler’s, and I cannot disagree with them, Donald. You can’t possibly want your kids or your wife Melania (all of whom I know and respect) to live with that. You are a born leader, who is set to possibly win the nomination of your party, but don’t compromise what I know is in your heart to do it,” Simmons wrote to Trump.
He added: “Stop the bulls***. Stop fueling fires of hate. Don’t feed into the rhetoric created by small-minded people. You’re smarter and certainly more loving then you let on.”
On Twitter, while promoting the post, Simmons tweeted: “I had to write this.”
Simmons serves as the Chairman of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, an organization that seeks to heal divisions between the Jewish and Muslim community. He has been very politically active over the last two decades. He campaigned aggressively to see the Rockefeller Drug Laws overturned in the state of New York (they disproportionately effected people of color). He showed solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protests and has endorsed progressive candidates for higher office, such as former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (for Congress, not president) and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Earlier this year, Simmons said during a HuffPost Live interview that a Trump presidency would not be “good for America at all” and that his politics are “divisive and hurtful.”
“He makes a lot of news. Doesn’t have as much influence as, say, Kim Kardashian. She would probably be a better president, in my opinion,” Simmons said.
Still, Simmons’ unlikely friendship with Trump has endured. Simmons writes about how he once brought the Republican front-runner to the Islamic Cultural Center of New York to make amends in the aftermath of past disparaging remarks he’d made about Islam, and how Trump was warmly received despite his rhetoric.
“At that time, you walked into that house of worship and you felt all the love vibrating in that mosque. Try to remember how sweet and enlightened my good friend, Imam Shamsi Ali was, and all of the people you met with,” writes Simmons.
He concludes by saying that he plans to campaign “vigorously” against Trump, but also keeps the door open for a White House one-on-one should he eventually win the presidency.