Russell Simmons, the businessman, philanthropist and hip-hop impresario, has done a lot in his time to bridge America’s white/black racial divide. Now Simmons (pictured) is defending conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh, who was just forced out of a bid to buy the NFL’s St. Louis Rams for allegedly making racist remarks on his popular radio show. “I don’t know, he should be able to buy” into the team, Simmons said in Dallas today. “Yeah–why not? I think it’s up to the players to play for him or not! I don’t think he was really making policy. Americans have a right to their own opinions.”
Simmons’ take was somewhat surprising, since it came just days after a piece he wrote for the Huffington Post ripped people like Limbaugh for their “nasty” and “hateful” views on things in general. “One thing I think I did wrong in that article, I said ‘fearful and angry people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.’ I wish I hadn’t done that,” Simmons said today. “Because I’m friends with [FOX honchos] Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes, too. I think they’re wonderful guys and they have an opinion. I think some of it–their choices–are based a little more on fear; that’s my opinion. Some of what they believe is important and useful, and it’s different from what I believe, and more important and useful than my views on certain subjects.”
Simmons was in town for a pre-event reception tonight for Dallas Rocks, a Nov. 14 fundraiser here for his Diamond Empowerment Fund nonprofit, which benefits African communities where diamonds are a natural resource.