Actress and co-host of The View, Whoopi Goldberg made a public apology after being hit with criticism from several Jewish organizations after her remarks on a recent episode of the show where she stated that the Holocaust “was not about race”.
On the Monday (January 31st) episode of The View, the hosts discussed the decision made by a school board in Tennessee to ban the nonfiction graphic novel Maus by cartoonist Art Spiegelman about his father’s experience in surviving the Holocaust. “Let’s be truthful about it because [the] Holocaust isn’t about race,” Goldberg said at one point said during the discussion. Co-host Ana Navarro immediately disagreed, stating: “it’s about white supremacy. That’s what it’s about. It’s about going after Jews and Gypsies.” The comedienne replied: “It’s not about race. It’s about man’s inhumanity to man… These are two white groups of people. The minute you turn it into race it goes down this alley. Let’s talk about it for what it is. It’s [about] how people treat each other. It doesn’t matter if you’re Black or white, Jews — it’s each other.”
After the segment, there was immediate criticism from a number of Jewish organizations on social media. The StopAntisemitism.org group wrote on Twitter, “Six million of us were gassed, starved, and massacred because we were deemed an inferior race by the Nazis. How dare you minimize our trauma and suffering!”
The U.S. Holocaust Museum also issued a statement, but opted not to cite Goldberg by name in the tweet inviting users to learn more, writing: “Racism was central to Nazi ideology. Jews were not defined by religion, but by race. Nazi racist beliefs fueled genocide and mass murder.”
Goldberg issued a statement of apology later on in the day, also via social media: “On today’s show, I said the Holocaust ‘is not about race, but about man’s inhumanity to man.’ I should have said it is about both,” she wrote in the statement shared. “The Jewish people around the world have always had my support and that will never waiver. I’m sorry for the hurt I have caused.”
She later appeard on Late Night With Stephen Colbert as a guest, where she attempted to clarify her inital statements on The View. “Most of the Nazis were white people and most of the people they were attacking were white people. So to me, I’m thinking, ‘How can you say it’s about race if you are fighting each other?’” she said to Colbert. “I thought it was a salient discussion because as a black person, I think of race as being something that I can see. So I see you and I know what race you are,” she continued. “People were very angry and they said, ‘No no, we are a race’ — and I understand.”
Goldberg concluded by saying, “I get it. Folks are angry. I accept that and I did it to myself. This was my thought process and I will work hard not to think that way again.”