In a report published on Sunday, singer-songwriter Billy Joel told CBS News that in the first show he performed after violence erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia last year, he wore a yellow Star of David to remind President Trump that "Nazis aren't good people."
At the incident in Charlottesville, demonstrators protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park were met by counter-protesters. Some of the protesters were avowed white supremacists. A man linked to white-supremacist groups allegedly rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters about 0.5 miles away, killing a young woman and injuring 19 others.
Joel said President Trump’s comments after the event “enraged” him. He told CBS, “The president said, you know, ‘There’s some good people on that side ...' No, Nazis aren’t good people. It really enraged me, actually. My old man, his family got wiped out. They were slaughtered in Auschwitz. Him and his parents were able to get out. But then he was in the U.S. Army during the war and fought with Patton and was shot at by Nazis. My family suffered. And I think I actually have a right to do that.”
Joel, who reportedly supported Bill Clinton for president, Hillary Clinton for Senate, and Barack Obama for president, performed at a benefit for Obama one month before the 2008 election, despite the fact that up until that point he had eschewed political endorsements. He said, "Over the last few months, there's a quote that keeps occurring to me, and it's a Dante quote, 'The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis,' and I thought, 'Oh, OK, I don't want to be in that place.’ So I did the fundraiser."
During the 2016 campaign, Joel dedicated his 1974 song "The Entertainer" to Donald Trump. Trump assumed that was an endorsement:
When asked by Time Magazine if the song constituted an endorsement, Joel responded, “I’m in the entertainment business. Donald Trump’s campaign has been very entertaining. Aside from that, who cares about the political opinions of a piano player?”
Part of the lyrics from “The Entertainer” include:
Today I am your champion
I may have won your hearts
But I know the game, you’ll forget my name
And I won’t be here in another year
If I don’t stay on the charts