The blaze has subsided since Whoopi Goldberg insisted the Holocaust “isn’t about race,” but the embers are still burning.
Goldberg’s comment started a firestorm during a January filming of her television show The View on ABC. The comedian-turned-daytime-television-host then doubled down on her remark and called the Holocaust an example of white-on-white violence.
Although ABC suspended Goldberg for two weeks and she issued an apology, the incident demonstrates how few people today comprehend the true nature of the Holocaust and how the American conversation about racism clouded Goldberg’s understanding. She admitted later on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that she can’t visualize racism apart from skin color.
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tried to help her out, commenting on social media, “No, Whoopi Goldberg, the Holocaust was about the Nazis’ systematic annihilation of the Jewish people—who they deemed to be an inferior race. They dehumanized them and used this racist propaganda to justify slaughtering 6 million Jews. Holocaust distortion is dangerous.”
The U.S. Holocaust Museum added, “Racism was central to Nazi ideology. Jews were not defined by religion, but by race. Nazi racist beliefs fueled genocide and mass murder.”
But the best rebuttal came from Colette A. M. Phillips, writing in The Boston Globe:
When I heard Goldberg’s comments, and the backlash that followed, it resonated strongly with me. As a Black woman who has been close to the Jewish community for over 30 years, I can’t help but notice that while people often conflate racism and antisemitism, they rarely see the parallels. Why? In part that’s because in America racism is largely seen through the lens of black and white: a structural and systemic construct to deliberately and intentionally oppress a group of people.
But that’s exactly what the Nazis did in 1930s Germany. Adolf Hitler believed that Jews were inferior because they were not Aryan, or “pure white.” His ideology regarded Jews as a race of people, irrespective of their level of participation in religious practice. He focused solely on Judaism as a bloodline, and his Nuremberg laws codified Jews as people with Jewish grandparents. Hitler did not see Jews as being part of the same race as he was.
Although the word misinformation has become a term the news media throw around when a topic irritates them even though the data associated with it is not demonstrably false, Goldberg’s comment qualifies as genuine misinformation: incorrect and misleading. The Holocaust is established history. It’s a textbook example of racism against the Jewish people, which is often called antisemitism.
It is disturbing that a 2020 survey of adults under 40 revealed 1 in 10 never heard the word Holocaust. Almost two-thirds of American young adults were unaware that 6 million Jews were systematically murdered during World War II. And the greatest shocker of all was that more than 1 in 10 believe the Jewish people caused the Holocaust.
Whoopi Goldberg (real name Caryn Elaine Johnson) may not realize the misinformation she spouted on national television dangerously fills a void created by a lack of true Holocaust education.
Jewish people comprise a mere 2 percent of the American population. Yet they are the target of 54.9 percent of the hate crimes in the United States, according to a 2020 FBI report. Holocaust ignorance runs deep, and real misinformation is dangerous.
Many have called for Whoopi Goldberg to be canceled. But Lucy Lipiner, an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor, has the right idea: Whoopi should be counseled. She messaged Goldberg on social media: “My family was killed for not being white. Hitler & Nazis NEEDED to exterminate Jews because we weren’t ‘white enough’ for them. I’m happy to meet and educate you about what really happened in the Holocaust.”
Later Lipiner told NewsNationNow.com, “I felt that I could probably help her learn a few things about Jewish people and [the] Jewish race.”
Managing misinformation with education won’t solve the problem of antisemitism. Jesus Christ will do that when He returns to Earth. But it may go a long way toward removing some of the ignorance surrounding one of the worst genocides in the history of the world.