Jackson Says Lyrics Not Meant To Offend Jews
Jun. 15, 1995
NEW YORK (AP) _ A song on Michael Jackson's new album uses an anti-Jewish slur word, but Jackson says he only wants to highlight the ``pain of prejudice.''
``Jew me, sue me, everybody do me' and ``Kick me, kike me, don't you black or white me,'' Jackson sings on the song ``They Don't Care About Us.''
Asked about the lyrics in an interview Wednesday night on ABC's ``Prime Time Live,'' Jackson said the song was a symbolic reference to victims of prejudice.
``It's not anti-Semitic because I'm not a racist,'' he said to interviewer Diane Sawyer. ``I could never be a racist. I love all races.''
``My accountants and lawyers are Jewish. My three best friends are Jewish _ David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg,'' Jackson said. The three are partners in the DreamWorks studio.
``These are friends of mine,'' he said. ``They're all Jewish. How does this make sense?''
In a statement earlier Wednesday to The New York Times, Jackson said he was ``angry and outraged'' the lyrics ``could be so misinterpreted.''
``The song in fact is about the pain of prejudice and hate and is a way to draw attention to social and political problems,'' Jackson said. ``I am the voice of the accused and the attacked. I am the voice of everyone.''
Rabbi Marvin Hier, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said he doesn't consider Jackson a bigot, ``but the fact of the matter is that the choice of those words can be misinterpreted and I wish he would not have used those words.''
The controversy comes amid the intense promotional campaign for Jackson's new album, ``HIStory Past, Present and Future Book 1,'' due out Tuesday.
Asked about the lyrics, Jackson's manager, Sandy Gallin, said they should be taken in context.
``When I heard those lyrics, I thought they were brilliant,'' Gallin said. ``He's saying, stop labeling people, stop degrading people, stop calling them names.''
Melani Rogers, a spokesman for Sony's Epic label, which is releasing the album, also said the song ``is a statement against prejudice of any kind.''