The family of Johnny Cash has condemned a neo-Nazi who was seen wearing a Johnny Cash t-shirt in Charlottesville over the weekend, stating their father would have been “horrified” at the use of his name for “a cause founded in persecution and hatred.” Rosanne Cash posted a response on Facebook on behalf of herself and siblings Kathy, Cindy, Tara and John Carter, saying they were “sickened by the association.”
“Johnny Cash was a man whose heart beat with the rhythm of love and social justice,” the statement read. “He received humanitarian awards from, among others, the Jewish National Fund, B’nai Brith, and the United Nations. He championed the rights of Native Americans, protested the war in Vietnam, was a voice for the poor, the struggling and the disenfranchised, and an advocate for the rights of prisoners.”
The family continues by naming their father’s pacifism and inclusive patriotism (“two of his most defining characteristics”), condemning the “white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville” as “poison in our society” and a collective “insult to every American hero who wore a uniform to fight the Nazis in WWII.”
“Our dad told each of us, over and over throughout our lives, ‘Children, you can choose love or hate. I choose love,” the statement continues. “We do not judge race, color, sexual orientation or creed. We value the capacity for love and the impulse towards kindness. We respect diversity, and cherish our shared humanity. We recognize the suffering of other human beings, and remain committed to our natural instinct for compassion and service.”
The Cash family request that his name be kept “far away from destructive and hateful ideology,” concluding, “To any who claim supremacy over other human beings, to any who believe in racial or religious hierarchy: we are not you. Our father, as a person, icon, or symbol, is not you.”
The Cash family are among the extensive list of artists to speak out against the white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville last weekend, including Dave Matthews Band, Solange, Lady Gaga and Lorde.
Find the Cash family’s full statement below.