By now, you’ve likely heard about the loud and wrong comment Whoopi Goldberg made on The View regarding the Holocaust during a discussion about the Tennessee school board’s ban of the book Maus. It was certainly a “Nah, sis’, you really should have kept that one in the drafts” moment for the iconic actress and TV personality—I’m just not so sure it warranted a two-week suspension from the show.
Here’s a quick recap for anyone who missed the controversy.
“It’s about the Holocaust, the killing of six million people, but that didn’t bother you? If you’re going to do this, then let’s be truthful about it because [the] Holocaust isn’t about race,” Goldberg said on the show Monday. “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 how people treat each other. It doesn’t matter if you’re Black or white, Jews—it’s each other.”
I mean, I get where she was coming from—Jerry Seinfeld is just as much a white man as Tom Cruise is—but race is a social construct no matter where it resides and, in the context of Nazi Germany and the occupied surrounding territories, the line socially constructed between Jewish people and non-Jewish people was considered a race-based one by the people in power. (Also that “It doesn’t matter if you’re Black or white, Jews—it’s each other.” part was giving big “All lives matter” energy.)
Anyway, hours after making the comment, Goldberg apologized for it.
“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,” Goldberg wrote. “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.”
But the apology apparently wasn’t enough for ABC, and only a suspension would suffice.
“While Whoopi has apologized, I’ve asked her to take time to reflect and learn about the impact of her comments,” ABC News President Kim Godwin said in a statement, according to NBC News. “The entire ABC News organization stand in solidarity with our Jewish colleagues, friends, family and communities.”
First of all, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that ABC News never had the same smoke for Meghan McCain when she repeatedly made loud, wrong and disparaging comments about Asian people on the show. That’s why it’s understandable that a lot of people think the response to Goldberg isn’t as much about offensiveness as it is about the fact that a certain marginalized group is deemed more untouchable than others.
This also may or may not have something to do with the fact that, according to the Daily Beast, co-hosts Sunny Hostin, Joy Behar, and Ana Navarro are all reportedly furious with the network’s decision to suspend Goldberg.
The Daily Beast also noted that, while Goldberg did apologize for what she said, she also appeared to defend her opinion on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
“But I thought it was a salient discussion because, as a Black person, I think of race as being something that I can see,” she said. “So I see you and I know what race you are, and the discussion was about how I felt about that. People were very angry, and they said, ‘No, no, we are a race,’ and I understand. I understand. I felt differently.”
So, now I’m back to the part where I understand where Goldberg is coming from.
Black people and people of color have a unique relationship with race because we wear that relationship right on our faces, skin and features. Conversely, white Jewish people in 21st century America navigate the world in all of their whiteness and privilege just like white people of all other faiths and ethnicities.
So Whoopi was wrong—but how wrong was she really?