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February 1, 2022 1:34 pm
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Whoopi Goldberg: ‘I Stand Corrected,’ the Holocaust ‘Was Indeed About Race’

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Whoop Goldberg. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

“The View” co-host Whoopi Goldberg issued an on-air apology Tuesday for asserting that the Holocaust was “not about race,” after several efforts since Monday to address her controversial comments.

Goldberg first took to Twitter on Monday evening to apologize for her comments in that day’s episode of the talk show.

“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, 66, wrote in a statement posted on social media. “As [Anti-Defamation League CEO] 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.”

The “Sister Act” star, who said in 2016 that she feels just as Jewish as she does black, added, “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.”

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Later, on Monday night, as a guest on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert”, Goldberg elaborated on her thinking, arguing that the Nazis “had issues with ethnicity, not with race.”

“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 told Colbert. “This wasn’t — I said — this wasn’t racial. This was about white on white.”

“It upset a lot of people which was never ever, ever, ever my intention,” she also told 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 … But people were very angry and they said ‘no, no, we are a race’ – and I understand,” she said, while noting that she “felt differently.”

“I was saying, ‘You can’t call this racism. This was evil. This wasn’t based on the skin — you couldn’t tell who was Jewish. They had to delve deeply to figure it out.” When Colbert noted that Nazis forced Jews to wear yellow stars to identify them as being Jewish, Goldberg said, “Yes, but my point is, they had to do the work.”

“If the Klan is coming down the street, and I’m standing with a Jewish friend — well, I’m gonna run,” she said, claiming that the Jewish friend would be safe “and they’ll get passed by most times because you can’t tell who’s Jewish.”

“That’s what I was trying to explain. And I understand that not everybody sees it that way. And that I did a lot of harm, I guess to myself.”

She then complained about facing charges of antisemitism and Holocaust denial over her comments, labels she emphatically denied.

“I respect everything everyone is saying to me and I don’t want to fake apologize,” Goldberg said. “I’m very upset that people misunderstood what I was saying.”

The ADL’s Greenblatt, who had responded to Goldberg’s comments and subsequent apology in separate Twitter posts on Monday, appeared Tuesday morning as a guest on “The View.”

The show should consider having a permanent Jewish co-host, Greenblatt said — one “who can bring these issues of antisemitism, who can bring these issues of representation to ‘The View’ every single day.” The talk show has only had two Jewish hosts in its 25 years on air and none since 2016.

Tuesday’s episode opened with Goldberg again apologizing for her Holocaust remarks. Explaining that they came during a discussion about a Tennessee school board’s decision to ban “Maus,” a graphic novel about the Holocaust, Goldberg said she now knows that the Holocaust “was indeed about race because Hitler and the Nazis considered Jews to be an inferior race.”

“I stand corrected and I stand with the Jewish people,” she added, before introducing Greenblatt.

“Well, Whoopi, there’s no question that the Holocaust was about race,” the ADL CEO said. “That’s how the Nazis saw it as they perpetrated the systematic annihilation of the Jewish people across continents, across countries with deliberate and ruthless cruelty. And literally the first page of ‘Maus,’ the book you were talking about yesterday, Whoopi, it opens with a quote from Hitler, and literally it says, the Jews undoubtedly are a race, but they are not human.”

“Hitler’s ideology, it was predicated on the idea that the Aryans, the Germans were a quote, ‘master race,’ and the Jews were a subhuman race. It was racialized antisemitism,” he continued. “And your platform, Whoopi, is so important using it now to educate people to realize that antisemitism remains a clear and present danger.”

Goldberg’s attempts to address the furor were not enough for some staff at ABC, which airs “The View,” according to a senior ABC News insider quoted anonymously by the UK’s Daily Mail on Monday.

Network staff are upset about the network’s soft approach to Goldberg’s Holocaust comments on “The View,” the Mail reported — especially given that ABC quickly fired Roseanne Barr and cancelled her show in 2018 over racist comments while discussing Valerie Jarrett, a black woman and former adviser to President Barack Obama.

‘There is a blind spot on ‘The View’ when it comes to antisemitism. It is never a big enough hate crime for them,” the source said. “These comments are absolutely abhorrent and outrageous and it’s time Disney and ABC grew a pair and fired her.”

The insider also asked, “How is this appropriate at all? What message do we send as a company? Why is there one rule for Whoopi Goldberg – who gets a pass on everything and another rule for everyone else?”

Goldberg’s comments Monday were roundly condemned by Jewish leaders, as well as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which explained in a statement that “racism was central to Nazi ideology” and “Jews were not defined by religion, but by race. Nazi racist beliefs fueled genocide and mass murder.”

Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan has personally invited the talk show co-host to visit the Holocaust memorial museum in Israel and learn more about the causes, events and aftermath of the Holocaust.

“We must not mince words,” Dayan said in a statement. “People need to know what led to the Holocaust, the unprecedented murderous drive to annihilate the entire Jewish people their religion, culture and values by the Nazis and their collaborators, primarily because of the unfounded belief that Jews were their foremost and extremely dangerous racial enemy.”

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