Will Smith Takes Hits for Hitler Quote

The ADL accepted Smith's statement that Hitler was a "vicious killer."

ByABC News

Dec. 26, 2007 — -- It appears that everything's kosher between Will Smith and the Jewish community.

The Anti-Defamation League, an organization that battles anti-Semitism, bigotry and racism, accepted the actor's statement that Hitler was a "vicious killer" today, after some speculated that Smith believed the Holocaust orchestrator was a good guy.

"We welcome and accept Will Smith's statement that Hitler was a 'vicious killer' and that he did not mean for his remarks about the Nazi leader to be mistaken as praise," the Anti-Defamation League's national director said in a statement posted on the group's Web site.

"Once Smith realized that his remarks may have been misunderstood, he took immediate steps to clarify his words and unequivocally condemn Hitler as an evil person," the statement continued.

In a story published Dec. 23 in the Scottish newspaper The Daily Record, Will Smith was quoted as saying: "Even Hitler didn't wake up going, 'let me do the most evil thing I can do today.' I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was 'good.'"

The quote was preceded by the writer's observation: "Remarkably, Will believes everyone is basically good."

The story sent bloggers into a frenzy this weekend, with a slew of celebrity gossip sites speculating about why Smith would use "good" in the same sentence as "Hitler."

That led the Jewish Defense League to issue a statement on Christmas Eve, condemning Smith's comments as "ignorant, detestable and offensive," calling on Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama to cut off ties with the actor, who publicly supports the Illinois senator, and asking theaters to remove Smith's latest film, "I Am Legend," from their screens.

In its statement, the Jewish Defense League added Smith "spit on the memory of every person murdered by the Nazis. His disgusting words stick a knife in the backs of every veteran who fought (and sometimes died) to save the world from the intentions of Adolf Hitler."

But the former "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" said his comments were taken out of context.

"It is an awful and disgusting lie," Smith said in a statement released Monday, regarding the suggestion that he believes Hitler was a good person. "It speaks to the dangerous power of an ignorant person with a pen. I am incensed and infuriated to have to respond to such ludicrous misinterpretation."

"Adolf Hitler was a vile, heinous vicious killer responsible for one of the greatest acts of evil committed on this planet," Smith's statement continued.

Smith, 39, has been a force in Hollywood and hip-hop for more than 20 years. In that time, he's cultivated a wholesome rep — his three children frequently accompany him on the red carpet and on set, his hip-hop songs are radio-friendly and free of curse words — and thus far, avoided major scandal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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