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Daily Israel Report

Rapper Denies Donning Anti-Semitic Costume

Accusations fly after American rapper Macklemore dons beard and hooked nose, makes bar mitzvah jokes - then denies the gag's anti-Semitism.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 5/20/2014, 9:20 AM

Macklemore (R) - anti-Semitic?
Macklemore (R) - anti-Semitic?
Screenshot/@sethrogen - Twitter

American rapper Macklemore, a.k.a Ben Haggerty, became the subject of heavy scrutiny over the weekend, after donning a fake beard and prosthetic nose for a Friday night show at Seattle's EMP Museum. 

The media storm began after a scathing Twitter post from Canadian stand-up comedian Seth Rogen, who called out the rapper for wearing the suspiciously anti-Semitic costume.

Seth Rogen calls out the rapper on his less-than-tolerant costume choice Twitter/Screenshot

A Twitter battle ensued, with Haggerty insisting that the costume was not anti-Semitic. 

One man's anti-semitic stereotype is another man's. . .random costume? Twitter/Screenshot

Controversy erupted over Haggerty's intentions, with several Twitter users claiming that allegations of anti-Semitism were unwarranted.

However, as Gawker notes, witnesses at the show - including Seattle Times features editor Lynn Jacobson - reported that Haggerty made at least one Bar Mitzvah joke while dressed in the costume. 

Twitter/Screenshot

'A Jewish stereotype never crossed my mind'

Macklemore later released an official apology on his website - explaining away the costume, but not reports of him making anti-Semitic comments. 

Family, friends and fans alike who know me well, know that I’m absolutely not the person described in certain headlines today. There is no worse feeling than being misunderstood, especially when people are hurt or offended.

On Friday night we had a surprise show at the EMP Museum in Seattle.  Earlier in the day 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.  I picked up a bunch of fake mustaches and beards and grabbed a left over wig from our recent trip to Japan.

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 color from my natural hair.  Disguise was the intention.  I personally thought I looked very ambiguous in terms of any “type” of person.  Some people there thought I looked like Ringo, some Abe Lincoln. If anything I thought I looked like Humpty Hump with a bowl cut.

We showed up to the event, I hit the stage in the outfit, rocked two songs, took pictures and went home.  We had a great time and it was fun to be a surprise guest in a costume.  I’ve always loved dressing up and have been doing so my entire career. The character I dressed up as on Friday 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.

My intention was to dress up and surprise the people at the show with a random costume and nothing more. Thus, it was surprising and disappointing that the images of a disguise were sensationalized leading to the immediate assertion that my costume was anti-Semetic [sic]. I acknowledge 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.

I will let my body of work and the causes for which I’ve 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. I love human beings, love originality, and… happen to love a weird outfit from time to time.

I truly apologize to anybody that I may have offended. I hope this better explains the situation and my point of view.

With love,

Ben

The rapper also claims to have been in contact with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and praised "the great work they do"; he even included a link to their website. The ADL has yet to release an official statement on the controversy.