In an awkward exchange with her co-hosts on the American TV show The View, actress and producer Whoopi Goldberg said, “The Holocaust isn’t about race,” but rather about “man’s inhumanity to man.”
The panel was discussing a Tennessee school board’s removal of the Holocaust book Maus from its curriculum earlier this month. All five co-hosts opposed the board’s decision, saying the acclaimed graphic memoir should be taught in classrooms. However, Goldberg differed strongly from her colleagues on the question of exactly why the Holocaust should be taught to students.
“If you’re going to do this, then let’s be truthful about it,” Goldberg said, before elaborating that “these [Jews and Nazis] are two white groups of people.”
Co-host Joy Behar objected, arguing that Nazis “considered Jews a different race.” Guest co-host Ana Navarro said, “It’s about white supremacy. It’s about going after Jews and Gypsies.” But Goldberg continued to speak.
“The minute you turn it into race, you go down this alley,” she said, as the show’s producers began playing music as a cue to cut to commercials.
Something for @WhoopiGoldberg to consider: If the Holocaust is only about “man’s inhumanity to man,” why do we remember it specifically? What was unique about it, as opposed to the many other inhumane things that have happened in history?— Lahav Harkov (@LahavHarkov) January 31, 2022
Goldberg’s comments came amid a larger nationwide reckoning on the Holocaust and race education, as many conservative activists have fought to restrict the teaching of race-related topics in schools, while some American Jews have expressed discomfort around identifying themselves as simply “white.”
In his writings and speeches that would ultimately come to articulate his mass-extermination plans, Adolf Hitler repeatedly referred to Jews as a race rather than a religious group.
— Whoopi Goldberg (@WhoopiGoldberg) February 1, 2022
Following the backlash, Goldberg released a statement over social media apologizing for her choice of words.
“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.
“As Jonathan Greenblatt from the Anti-Defamation League shared, ‘The Holocaust was about the [Nazis’] systematic annihilation of the Jewish people – who they deemed to be an inferior race.’ I stand corrected.”
“The Jewish people around the world have always had my support and that will never waiver,” she added. “I’m sorry for the hurt I have caused.”
Goldberg, born Caryn Elaine Johnson, has no Jewish ancestry, but she adopted her stage name to be deliberately Jewish-sounding, in part because she has said she personally identifies with Judaism. She told a London audience in 2016, “I just know I am Jewish. I practice nothing. I don’t go to temple, but I do remember the holidays.” In 2016, she designed a Hanukkah sweater for Lord & Taylor.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this article.