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Whoopi Goldberg’s Comments On ‘The View’ Reflect A Harmful Misunderstanding About Race & The Holocaust

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Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg has been facing some flak for comments made on “The View” and has since apologized.

The host has had to apologize for offensive and factually incorrect statements she made while discussing the Holocaust on a recent episode of the talk show.

What did Whoopi Goldberg say about the Holocaust on 'The View'?

Goldberg mistakenly stated that “the Holocaust isn't about race.”

In the clips that have been widely circulated online, Goldberg can be seen claiming that the atrocities of the Holocaust were committed by white people to other white people.

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In a segment discussing a Tenessee school board’s banning of the graphic novel “Maus” by Art Spiegelman, Goldberg shared a take on the issue, “If you're going to do this, then let's be truthful about it because the Holocaust isn't about race.”

Goldberg immediately received some pushback from the other hosts, but she continued to double down on her position, claiming that the Holocaust was “about man’s inhumanity to man” instead.

Whoopi Goldberg has since retracted her statement and apologized.

Goldberg tweeted an apology after the show, saying, “On today’s show, I said the Holocaust ‘is not about race, but about man’s inhumanity to man.’ As Jonathan Greenblatt from the Anti-Defamation League shared, ‘The Holocaust was about the Nazi’s systemic annihilation of the Jewish people - who they deemed to be an inferior race.’ I stand corrected.”

Goldberg also spoke about the situation on “The View” and invited on Jonathan Greenblatt from the Anti-Defamation League to continue and expand on the conversation of race and how it pertains to the Holocaust.

Goldberg claims that she misspoke and that, on the topic of race as it pertains to the Holocaust, she said, “I understand why now, and for that, I am deeply, deeply grateful because the information I got was really helpful and helped me understand some different things.”

Whoopi Goldberg’s statements help illustrate dangerous misconceptions that many people have about both race and the Holocaust.

The term “race” is the subject of much debate and even the best definitions of the word are somewhat vague and non-specific as it is difficult to say at exactly what point a group of people unified by physical or social traits becomes distinct enough to warrant being considered a distinct race.

Often Jews get categorized as white or white-passing without acknowledging how white supremacy has targeted and persecuted Jewish people both historically and presently. 

In Goldberg’s original statement, she described the Holocaust by saying, “Well, this is white people doing it to white people, so y'all gonna fight amongst yourselves.”

Hitler and the Nazi targeted Jews for not being Aryan, deeming them and inferior race.

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By Goldberg labeling Jews as "white people" she is focusing on the superficiality of skin color which has never been the sole basis of racism.

Pushing Jews and the discrimination against them out of conversations about racism implicitly deems antisemetism as a lesser form of discrimination. 

There is a lot of focus on Goldberg’s statement about the Holocaust not being about race but this comment is critical in understanding her mistake.

By grouping the Nazis and Jews together, Goldberg shows that she did not understand how the Nazis dehumanized the Jews and justified their systematic destruction by describing them as a distinct and “subhuman” race.

Whoopi Goldberg has since tried to better educate both herself and her audience on the subject of race in the Holocaust.

Goldberg has since tried to make amends and spread her new understanding by bringing on Jonathan Greenblatt to explain how race played into the Nazi atrocities against the Jewish people.

Greenblatt explained that “Hitler’s ideology, the Third Reich, was predicated on the idea that the Arians, the Germans, were a ‘master race’ and the Jews were a subhuman race. It was a racialized antisemitism.”

Greenblatt very succinctly explains that the Nazis used the racial distinction of the Jewish people to seek and destroy them across countries, languages and cultures.

The racial distinction is what allowed the Nazis to identify and justify atrocities against the Jewish people regardless of any other factors of their identity.

In short, the Holocaust was always about race, and to the perpetrators of the Holocaust, that’s all that it was ever about.

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Dan O'Reilly is a writer who covers news, politics, and social justice. Follow him on Twitter.