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Macklemore defends himself after being slammed for 'anti-Semitic' dress-up

Times LIVE | 20 May, 2014 09:05
Rapper Macklemore, in an outfit that has been branded 'anti-Semitic', at the Seattle EMP Museum on Friday, May 16, 2014.
Image by: Ian de Borja / Twitter/

Seattle rapper Macklemore caused an uproar over the weekend by turning out to a surprise gig in what looked to be a costume mocking Jewish people, according to reports.

Macklemore, real name Ben Haggerty, appeared on stage Friday wearing a wig, beard and prosthetic nose, which caused some in the Jewish community to view as anti-Semitic, reports Us Weekly.

The duo of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis stopped by the EMP Museum in Seattle to perform Thrift Shop and Can’t Hold Us, Seattle Weekly said. The review was favourable, saying the disguise was an attempt to avoid detection prior to his two-song performance, but the backlash wasn’t.

As expected, there was a social media explosion, with stars like Seth Rogan taking to Twitter to vent his anger on what the Jewish actor called “anti-Semitic”.

“@Macklemore, first you trick people into thinking you’re a rapper, now you trick them into thinking you’re Jewish?” Rogan said on Twitter.

Jewish human right group B’nai B’rith International said the "costume choice by singer Macklemore, in which he wore a hook nose while singing a song about frugality called Thrift Shop, is deeply offensive and propagates Jewish stereotypes," reported The Algemeiner.

Macklemore then took to his website,, to apologise, explaining his point of view.

“I thought it would be fun to dress up in a disguise and go incognito to the event, so that I could walk around unnoticed and surprise the crowd with a short performance.

“As it turns out the fake noses they sell at the costume store are usually big (my nose didn’t fit most of them). So I ended up with a big witch nose. I went with a black beard, because that’s the furthest colour from my natural hair… Some people there thought I looked like Ringo, some Abe Lincoln. If anything I thought I looked like Humpty Hump with a bowl cut.”

He said the character he dressed up as had no intended cultural identity or background. 

“I wasn’t attempting to mimic any culture, nor resemble one.  A “Jewish stereotype” never crossed my mind.

“Thus, it was surprising and disappointing that the images of a disguise were sensationalised leading to the immediate assertion that my costume was anti-Semetic.”

He says he acknowledges how the costume could, within a context of stereotyping, be ascribed to a Jewish caricature.

“I am here to say that it was absolutely not my intention, and unfortunately at the time I did not foresee the costume to be viewed in such regard. I’m saddened that this story, or any of my choices, would lead to any form of negativity.”

The emcee, who is famous for his activism within the LGBTI community, said he will let his body of work and the causes for which he’s supported speak for themselves.

“I hope that anyone who may question my intent take a few moments to discover the human and artist that I strive to be. I respect all cultures and all people. 

“I would never intentionally put down anybody for the fabric that makes them who they are,” he said.

“I love human beings, love originality, and… happen to love a weird outfit from time to time.”


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