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Whoopi Goldberg suspended from ‘The View’ for saying Holocaust 'not about race'

Whoopi Goldberg
Whoopi Goldberg on "The View." |

Celebrated actor and “The View” co-host Whoopi Goldberg was suspended by ABC News from the popular daytime talk show for two weeks Tuesday as outrage and vociferous debate continued across media platforms after she said that the Holocaust was "not about race."

While she has since apologized for her comments, ABC News President Kim Godwin said in a statement that the 66-year-old comedian's remarks were "wrong and hurtful."

"While Whoopi has apologized, I've asked her to take time to reflect and learn about the impact of her comments," Godwin said. "The entire ABC News organization stands in solidarity with our Jewish colleagues, friends, family and communities."

Goldberg’s remarks were made Monday during a televised discussion about a Tennessee school board’s banning of Maus, a graphic novel about the Nazi death camps.

“It’s about the Holocaust, the killing of 6 million people, but that didn’t bother you?” she said during the segment. “If you’re going to do this, then let’s be truthful about it. Because the Holocaust isn’t about race. No, it’s not about race.”

Goldberg insisted the Holocaust was about “man’s inhumanity to other man." But she apologized hours later.

“On today’s show, I said the Holocaust ‘is not about race,' but about man’s inhumanity to man,’” she said. “I should have said it is about both. As Jonathan Greenblatt from the Anti-Defamation League shared, ‘The Holocaust was about the Nazi’s systematic annihilation of the Jewish people — who they deemed to be an inferior race.’ I stand corrected.”

Despite her apology, Goldberg’s comments sparked a contentious debate online.

Founder and editor of the conservative news website The Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro, who is Jewish, argued on Twitter that the actor’s comments were not just “insipid” but “insidious.”

“The intersectional argument is that Jews are white people, and that Jews are disproportionately successful thanks to ‘white supremacy.’ Because racism is ‘animus plus power,’ and Jews are powerful because they are white, anti-Semitism from non-white supremacists isn't bigotry."

Shapiro further argued that such "logic" is why the political Left will condemn anti-Semitic attacks such as the 2018 shooting committed by a white man at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh but will "quickly memory hole anti-Semitic attacks by Black Hebrew Israelites in NJ or radical Muslims in TX." 

"This logic is also why the Left will embrace and/or justify radical Islamists who wish to destroy the State of Israel rather than siding with a liberal democracy that includes a significant Muslim minority," Shapiro continued. 

“Anti-Semitism, in this theory, is only present when it springs from actual white supremacists. Other acts of anti-Semitism are just a reflection of the dispossessed lashing out against those who have more institutional power,” he added. “The attempt to abstract the causes of the Holocaust from Jew-hatred to ‘man's inhumanity to man’ is actually a way of obscuring and covering for anti-Semitism.”

Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City, a billionaire businessman and philanthropist, defended Goldberg as a strong advocate against prejudice.

“@WhoopiGoldberg has been a longtime friend and I know her heart is absolutely in the right place," Bloomberg noted on Twitter Tuesday. "I will vouch for her any day and her commitment to fighting all forms of prejudice. I know her apology is sincere and hope others will accept it."

Yair Rosenberg, a writer at The Atlantic whose newsletter the "Deep Shtetl" examines the intersection of politics, culture and religion, stated in a report that he doesn’t believe Goldberg is an anti-Semite. He contends her comments reflect the challenge Western culture has in defining the complex Jewish identity.

“Goldberg is not an anti-Semite, but she was confused — and understandably so,” Rosenberg wrote.

“Jewish identity doesn’t conform to Western categories, despite centuries of attempts by society to shoehorn it in. This makes sense, because Judaism predates Western categories. It’s not quite a religion, because one can be Jewish regardless of observance or specific belief,” he wrote. “But it’s also not quite a race because people can convert in! It’s not merely a culture or an ethnicity, because that leaves out all the religious components. And it’s not simply a nationality, because although Jews do have a homeland and many identify as part of a nation, others do not.”

Rosenberg argued that Judaism is “an amalgam of all these things,” which makes being Jewish “more like a family (into which one can be adopted) than a sectarian Western faith tradition.”

“Goldberg was right to apologize, and probably wishes she hadn’t raised this subject,” he added. “But I’m glad her misstep has provided a public opportunity to address it. We need to have more conversations about these topics going forward, not fewer.”

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