Whoopi Goldberg Apologizes After Saying 'Holocaust Isn't About Race'

Whoopi Goldberg's comments came on the heels of a Tennessee school board banning Holocaust graphic novel 'Maus,' which has spurred widespread outrage

Haaretz
JTA
Andrew Lapin
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Whoopi Goldberg attends the 'A Celebration of Barbara Walters,' in New York in 2014.
Whoopi Goldberg attends the 'A Celebration of Barbara Walters,' in New York in 2014.Credit: AP
Haaretz
JTA
Andrew Lapin

Whoopi Goldberg apologized for saying "the Holocaust isn’t about race" but rather about “man’s inhumanity to man" in an awkward exchange on Monday with her co-hosts on a talk show.

A panel on "The View" 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 that the acclaimed graphic memoir should be taught in classrooms; but actress and producer 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 asserted that “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 continued, as the show’s producers began playing music as a cue to cut to commercials.

In a tweet later on Monday, Goldberg quoted Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, who had tweeted a correction to her statement. She added, "The Jewish people around the world have always had my support and that will never [waver]. I'm sorry for the hurt I have caused."

Goldberg’s comments come amid a larger nationwide reckoning on 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.

Goldberg, born Caryn Elaine Johnson, has no Jewish ancestry, but 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.

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