Russell Simmons: From Occupy Wall Street to... St. Barths?
While the length of a Profiles in C̶o̶u̶r̶a̶g̶e̶ Liberal Hypocrisy compendium would rival War and Peace at this point, every now and again one such story surfaces so as to merit a collective “what?!” from the free-thinking masses.
Guess what tycoon is Occupy Wall Street’s most vocal supporter and fervently in attendance at its events, eagerly addressing the crowds and speaking to the media on its behalf? Yes, Russell Simmons, a.k.a. Uncle Rush, the hip-hop mogul with uber-cool credentials and author of SuperRich: The Guide to Having it All (yes, you read that title correctly, and no, it is not by The Donald). Thanks in large part to his founding the wildly successful Def Jam record label and Phat Farm clothing line, Simmons' net worth exceeds a whopping $300 million. A true American success story!
Hang on, though.
The Occupy movement is, first and foremost, about income inequality and the so-called "need" for wealth redistribution, as evidenced by its “we are the 99%” slogan and its angrily protesting outside notable 1%ers' homes. So, what is a rollin’-in-cash 1%er doing at an Occupy rally? Need I even type out the phrase "inherent contradiction"? Reading about Russell and his "support" for Occupy, I had one of my Mugatu breakdown moments (i.e., “Doesn’t anyone notice this?! I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!!!”).
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So just how does Uncle Rush reconcile his 1% membership with his support for Occupy? By re-framing what the movement is about, of course! Whether speaking to CNN reporters at Zuccotti park or on Keith Olbermann’s show (remember Olbermann?), Simmons takes the liberty of reinventing Occupy’s main goal: “It’s very simple – they’re at Wall Street ’cause Wall Street runs our government and they’d like to.” Hmm, not exactly, Russell. They’re at Wall Street because they’re targeting the 1%, and what better concentration of the 1% is there than in the nation’s financial hub? The "movement" is, again, about income inequality – the inequality of which Simmons is a perfect poster boy. Yet Simmons recouches the aims to suit his own participation. I can almost see the Occupy protester in his beanie hat, standing behind Russell while he’s talking to CNN, going: “Pssst, dude – hm, thanks for being here ’n all but we’re actually, like, more about the 1%’s greed,” only to have Russell smile and dismiss him as yet another avid fan trying to get an autograph. Indeed, throughout Simmons’s October interview with Olbermann, Simmons never once cites Occupy's “we are the 99%” slogan! Why? Because Simmons is in that very 1 %... but why should such inconvenient truths interfere with the chance for some good P.R.?
When the French Revolution took place (and I’m fairly certain some Occupiers would love to see us go that route), no aristocrat had the chutzpah to come out of his manor and say: “Pay no attention to my luxurious abode! I’m totally with you guys!” They put down the flaming torches and pitchforks only to tear his limbs apart before he could even get a word out. The fact that Simmons gets a free pass by Occupy and its supporters says a great deal about our tolerance for Hollyweird and other celebrity liberals’ hypocrisy, who fly on private jets whilst proclaiming themselves environmentalists, who rake in millions yet claim to be "down with the little people," etc. At least back in ole France, the 1%ers knew one cannot have one’s cake and eat it, too (though tell that to Michelle-Antoinette who refused to cancel her Hawaii vacay and save us taxpayers $4 million). While I realize it’s uber fashionable, Russell, you simply cannot kick it in Zuccotti Park with the Occupiers when you’re worth 9 figures, sorry.
Worse yet, for all his attacks on Wall Street, Russell is no foe of the banking world. Rivaling the “are you kidding me?” shock-value of king-of-the-libs Alec Baldwin’s Capital One Card commercials, Simmons hustles his very own pre-paid debit card, "Rush Card." But it’s not something Russell discusses publicly much nowadays – indeed, his Wikipedia bio, curiously enough, omits any mention of Rush Card. As reported in July, the Florida Attorney General’s Office is investigating Rush Card for charging hidden fees. Uh oh. Let's examine this: liberals love to shriek that the 2008 economic collapse was caused by "predatory lending" (in reality, it was caused by liberal social engineering – sideye to Barney Frank! -- pressuring banks to make subprime loans to under-qualified minorities so they could realize the "home ownership dream"… but let's go with the liberal view of the "evil banks" and "predatory lending" for argument’s sake). Yet here we have Russell Simmons speaking at an Occupy rally while profiting off a questionable pre-paid card targeted at African-Americans? Crazy pills moment indeed!
On Christmas Eve, the New York Post’s gossip column, Page Six, reported on the inherent hypocrisy with a quick piece entitled: “Occupy Saint Barths,” noting Simmons’ ritzy vacation and implying it seems at odds with his support for Occupy. Only hours later, Uncle Rush’s sweet vacation was interrupted by at least one Tweet that got under his skin. @DefendWallStreet tweeted: “Where is champion of 99% @UncleRush? Vacationing on a tropical island for two weeks for the holidays", to which Simmons replied: “So what ii can vacation U guys eat a d*ck u control too much of our government Happy holidayz :-).” With such foul language, he forgot to hashtag his tweet with “#keepingitclassy”. Perhaps one Page Six commenter said it best, wryly remarking that Simmons was doing his activist work in a place… where he would not be bothered by the other 99%.
Now, perhaps Uncle Rush means well. Let’s put it to the test, shall we? If Simmons truly believes in the need for income redistribution, why not take action himself? Why wait? So Russell, I propose you do the following: Go ahead and advocate for increased tax rates to affect others like you across the board, sure, but in the meantime, why don’t you write a check to the U.S. government (they’ll accept it!); take no deductions and use no loopholes on this year’s tax return, especially considering you bemoaned during the Olbermann interview that you don’t pay taxes because of said loopholes (I’m sure your accountant will oblige your request!); and give away a significant portion of your wealth to the 99%’ers! What’s that, Russell? I hear crickets.
Until the “tax me more! honestly, I mean it!” Russell Simmons and Matt Damons of the world quit the lip service, quit the hypocrisy, and actually pony up some cash and put their money where their mouths are, or, better yet, admit they have a right to their own fair-and-square-earned wealth and that it does more good in the private sector than in the government’s hands… we have many more Mugatu "crazy pills" moments ahead of us.
For your enjoyment, check out this clip of Russell rightly being heckled for his hypocrisy by the only two Occupy attendees with a triple-digit IQ. Fast forward to the 2:00 minute mark for “YOU are part of the problem, Rus-sell!” Her smirk adds a level of sass appreciated by yours truly.
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What do you all think? Is Russell Simmons a limousine liberal hypocrite extraordinaire or does his stance make sense?