Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I train my snarkiest comments on the pious hypocrisies and various insanities of the nutty right. But every once in a while, it’s important to concede that the left has its own conspiracy theorists and virtue signalers. Len Farber identified them perfectly in a comment to a previous blog about anti-Semitism. At the end of his comment on the content of that post, he wrote “As for Whoopi – Yes, her statement offended me, but it meant that she needed to learn, not to be banished. I believe that the first part has happened from news reports. I can only hope that ABC comes to its senses. Do I think it was “racism” that got her banished? No, it was “liberal” hypersensitivity, which is also why we have “former Senator Franken.”
For those of you who inexplicably missed the explosion of finger-pointing and recriminations, let me fill you in. On a session of “The View,” Whoopi Goldberg and others were discussing the recent banning of Art Spiegelman’s graphic memoir “Maus.” She opined that the Holocaust “was not about race” and that it was instead an example of “white-on-white” violence.
Given the blowback, she might just as well have said that Hitler wasn’t such a bad dude. She was accused of minimizing the Holocaust, and misunderstanding Nazism, and ABC suspended her from the show for two weeks.
As Whoopi now knows, the Nazis insisted that Jews are a race–and an inferior one that needs to be eradicated. They considered Jews to be biologically different from “Aryan” people (and because we have white skin, and can “pass,” they feared we could intermarry and “pollute” the “Master Race.”)
The remarks provoked outrage. Whoopi apologized on social media, and opened the View the next day with an apology.
“Yesterday on our show, I misspoke. I tweeted about it last night but I want you to hear it from me directly,” the comedian and actor said. “I said something that I feel a responsibility for not leaving unexamined, because my words upset so many people, which was never my intention. I understand why now, and for that I am deeply, deeply grateful because the information I got was really helpful, and it helped me understand some different things.”
“I said the Holocaust wasn’t about race and was instead about man’s inhumanity to man,” Goldberg said Tuesday on “The View.” “But it is indeed about race because Hitler and the Nazis considered Jews to be an inferior race.”
“Now, words matter and mine are no exception. I regret my comments, as I said, and I stand corrected. I also stand with the Jewish people as they know and y’all know, because I’ve always done that.”
You would think that might be the end of it, but of course, it wasn’t.
One of the websites I visit regularly is Talking Point Memo. Josh Marshall–the editor, who is Jewish–echoed Len’s observation about the reaction to Whoopie’s remarks.
I read this morning that Whoopi Goldberg has been suspended for two weeks from The View for her earlier comments about the Holocaust. This whole episode is a testament to the general insipidness of our public culture.
Goldberg’s comments were clearly rooted in ignorance rather than malevolence. She not only issued a genuine apology rather than a half-assed ‘I’m sorry if anyone was offended’ type apology. She also spoke to people, privately and publicly, and seemingly learned why her comments were wrongheaded and corrected herself. ABC’s suspension was needless and stupid. It will be derided as “cancel culture.” But it’s really more the kind of corporate ass-covering that only discredits the values it purports to serve. It’s a consequence that, as far as I can tell, basically no one was asking for.
Marshall also noted that, in a show that advertises itself as a freewheeling conversation, you should expect that sometimes someone will say something inartful or dumb. As he says, if it is neither mean-spirited nor resistant to correction, it’s usually worth moving on.
Marshall also noted that Goldberg’s comments grow out of an” essentialism about racism and “whiteness” that reduces not only the magnitude of the Holocaust but, more importantly, the history and anti-Semitism that led to it.” Because science confirms that there really is no such a thing as “race,” race becomes whatever a given culture decides it is.
Whoopie’s apology indicates that she now understands that.
ABC’s decision just blurs the line between performative “inclusion” (virtue signaling) and appropriate negative responses to bigotry; it encourages people to cry “cancel culture” even when there is a legitimate reason to censure someone.
I love Whoopi Goldberg–and I desperately miss Al Franken.
32 thoughts on “Whoopi”
Well said, Sheila
Not a fan of Whoopi, but her punishment was silly for the reasons you cite. We need to allow people the room to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes.
I really liked Sen. Franken. While I didn’t agree with him on a lot of issues, he was always thoughtful on expressing his views and respectful of those who didn’t agree with those views. He was an intellectual in a body needing more brain power. Regarding #MeToo, all offenses shouldn’t be treated equally and deserve career death sentences. I will never forgive Sen. Gillibrand for leading the mob that ended Franken’s political career. Hopefully he comes back some day.
Yep. As a fellow Jew, I wasn’t surprised to see that kind of thing happen, but I really did appreciate that Whoopi actually apologized for real and used it as an opportunity for learning.
Somehow, I’m also wondering whether some of the piling-on against Whoopi happened davka because she’s Black and a woman, and this way it lets people claim that those Horrible Jews have no perspective and are responsible for this cancel-culture thing… sigh.
Your post today is spot on. It also opens the doors for much wider discussions of words in historical contexts. Some on the left are doing their own version of book banning and seeking to keep “To Kill a Mockingbird” out of schools. A few years ago there was a similar hue and cry over “Huckleberry Finn”. Yes, some of the words used in both books are offensive, but each is a reasonable depiction of the times and attitudes held when they were written. That’s what’s really important.
As to Al Franken, I was sorry to see him go, but not as sorry as you might think. If you ask for advice, take it. If you don’t take it and things go wrong, say you’re sorry and sit down and shut up.
Can you imagine a movie like “Blazing Saddles” being made today?
Everyone to your corners and ban everything that you don’t like!
Just another example concerning loss of societal cohesion.
Actually, you can see it on this thread perfectly on most days. The snarky comments, the ignorance of history, the out-and-out disdain for other types of viewpoints or knowledge for that matter.
How many wear their feelings out on their shirt sleeve? How many look for a reason to be outraged? Sometimes it takes a copious amount of introspection concerning reasons/feelings of outrage.
Use reason in your discussions, let your words be seasoned with salt? That’s pretty good advice. Because when you immediately wait for an opportunity to call someone stupid or ignorant or something even worse, you’ve already lost your argument or your ability to debate.
In 1949 a British diplomate by the name of Fitzroy Maclean wrote of his adventures in Asia, Russia and Europe starting in 1937. Whenever he had the chance he went off exploring the most remote parts of eastern Russia and northern Asia visiting small villages in the recently formed USSR, places like Georgia, Armenia, the Kuban Steppe, the Caucasus and Azerbaijan. The people he met he considered to be of different races. They were Tartars and Cossacks and small groups of illiterate peasants recently forced into the Communist system of collective farming. It is an interesting read, and it gives one the opportunity to see how someone of British education viewed all unlike himself to be of a different races. My point is that it wasn’t just in Germany where these ideas took hold at that time. Unfortunately, such thinking is with us to this day here in our country.
I don’t watch “The View” as I find it to be filled with a lot of nonsense and could be compared to the stereotype of a bunch of women gossiping and yes I’m fully aware that is a biased statement. However one thing that has been missed. I have observed that when someone is a bigot they are not just bigoted against one group, but you can quickly find they are bigoted against multiple groups. I have found those bigoted against veterans also are bigoted against others, usually African Americans but sometimes other groups.
Absolutely, what Theresa said.
If you really think about it, phrases that really segregate us from other parts of our society here. Native American, African American, Polish American, Russian American, Mexican American, German American. Swedish American, especially in Northern Wisconsin. Ethnicities and creeds might just as well be considered race. Because it’s all some sort of man-made BS anyway. The Jews of course were part of the Semitic people, and many spoke Aramaic. And even Ethiopians were aramaic. So, who is what? It shouldn’t really matter. Any group that has been subject to genocide should never lose their place in history because it points to, as Whoopi said, man’s inhumanity to man.
Christ used his Good Samaritan parable as a teaching tool, he made it clear, ties that bind are not ethnic, they are not racial, they are not credish, but, they are moral! He also said to love your neighbor, and he didn’t mean the person next door. He meant your fellow man. Therefore, there was no division amongst humanity in Christ’s eyes. Everyone was part of the human race. We’ve divided ourselves because of greed and hatefulness. As it states in scripture, “the inclination of man’s heart is bad all the time.”
Of course that doesn’t mean all of mankind, but enough where there could never be unity, or peace for that matter.
Genetically, every grouping across the globe, every so-called peoples or tribes are so close genetically, some are even closer than their own familia.
So who really is your brother or sister for that matter? When I greet someone, I always call the man brother or the woman sister. Or, brother by another mother/sister by another mister. And believe it or not, scientifically that’s pretty accurate!
I guess if we care about what Sarah Palin says, we should also care about what Whoopi says. However, it should be a red flag when the ‘news media’ shoves microphones into the faces of celebrity fools and athletes. 😉
If those are our “influencers,” we must be heading in the wrong direction.
Thanks, Aimee, for letting me learn another Yiddish word “davka”. I had to look it up and now I can add it to my repitoire with “oy vey” and “verklempt”. (If my senior brain remebers it!)
I always learn something by reading Sheila’s blog.
Also, great comments today and. as always, Sheila is spot on.
I love Whoopi – – she says what she means and means what she says — and isn’t afraid to say “I was wrong.”
I heard a lady who had been in a concentration camp say that the Nazis first went after the doctors, convincing them to let die, or kill in hospitals, infants who were weak.
If that is true, then anti-semitism may have come later. Actions of German doctors could have been described as Nazi’s inhumanity to man.
“I love Whoopi Goldberg–and I desperately miss Al Franken.”
Me. too, Sheila.
All of us live in and need to be regarded in context and it’s context where all of the nuance is. The good and bad is in the balance not in the detail.
Freedom is rarely perfect in every detail.
Gordon, it was worse than that. Early on in an effort to “purify” the race the Nazis murdered the mentally ill, and the mentally and physically handicapped. They killed thousands. Only after the Catholic Church rebelled over this practice did it stop. Unfortunately, most Catholics had no such qualms about killing the Jews and the gypsies, and other such “undesirables”.
Thanks Theresa for clarification.
The phrase “man’s inhumanity to man” certainly seems to be applicable.
I am struggling with the proper words and stories in response to others who have written here.
My perspective may be different as my family was greatly affected by the Nazi invasion of Denmark.
My maternal grandfather was sent to a Nazi “work camp”.
When I was older I learned why he always wore long sleeved shirts…I never saw the numbers tattooed on his body.
My mother carried documents through Nazi checkpoints.
My father built bombs in the basement of Nazi occupied buildings that were built over rivers.
So many brave souls who fought for each other.
Anti-Jewish attitudes ran deep in Germany as in most of Europe at the time. Belief in occultism and spiritualism was strong at the time, and leaders in those movements claimed that the supermen of the past had been polluted by inferior races causing the true people of Germany to lose their Aryan qualities, including superpowers like telepathy. When Germany lost WWI and suffered greatly for it quite naturally people looked for who “stabbed them in the back” and Jews were a natural target. It was not so unlike conspiracy theories of today with their quasi-religious magical thinking.
Speaking of which, uttering a word and losing your career for it is magical thinking on the left. We are capable of understand that humans are biological beings largely not in control of their own behaviors (which is very much supported by modern neuroscience), and we can forgive people who commit crimes such as drug abuse and argue for treatment or rehabilitation over punishment, but anyone who dares cross the jagged, shifting lines of leftist ideology even for a moment must be shunned for life? This is thinking that could result in tyranny just as surely as the magical beliefs of the right.
If you were tasked with writing a law to define what is legal and what is not within the general freedom of speech amendment, what words would you use to delineate between words unacceptably harmful to others versus acceptable even if objectionable words?
For clarification what Whoopie said was clearly wrong. The problem in my view is the absolutism of leftists and their insistence on conformance to their ideology, which results in a “you are with us or against us” mentality. Whoopie as all of us should be able to make a mistake and recover from it.
oh yes to missing Al Franken…found him on youtube last night….excellent as usual And the man has an awesome brain….refreshing
Thank you for addressing this, Sheila.
Its refreshing to here the morning conversation about,,is it race? when media seeks to fatten its wallet with return faces,old reruns,or,bring up people who should remain in comedy. now thier being slugged for something,er,they said. im sure Whoopie was in a moment,whereas,we have at times,blurted out,off the lip, er.excuse me that didnt come out right..words here mean alot,and the viewers who judged the words on the,view>no i dont watch it,but found the rehashed version. to a typical person who is not as educated,as the people here today,they may have just breezed with it,and never gave it a thought,now,Whoopie isnt,er a racist..but,the wordmongers had to have thier day too. as i sit in a group of shuck n jive types where i was bought up, i still insense my street smarts and talk. media causes uneeded attention to,others needed attention.maybe details,but,if anyone has a decent education,and were bought up by people who, look over the fence and relate back to thier children,the issue of the holocaust is relivent,and,dispised. being i grew up around a diverse less than middle class area of the country,NYC/NJ metro, my upbringing was by way of,the people who lived there. i met many WW2 survivors,and with that conversation,made my own decision on what was right and wrong. i still for any reason,can not understand why people anywhere slam the Jewish religion. though bought up christian,i abandoned it and all religions. i just dont believe in a higher presense. its a fact the holocaust happened,i met a few who seen the carnage as soldiers. we have living details and people. give Whoopie a break, she was just doing as she was hired to do, but,a few wordmongers decided she didnt present it right,though,i believe,she had no intent on slamming anyone for any reason in that conversation..
best wishes all, i really enjoy this blog when i can get to it..
While Putin’s Agent #45 roams around Mar@lago while Whoopi trips over her mouth, I have to pull my hair out. 45 never once apologized for dissing the military troops, gold star families and fellow republicans as RINOs. So, watching ABC’s brass suspend Whoopi for her honest to goodness apology just makes my head explode! Not once did Meghan McCain apologize for her dishonesty and propaganda! The View has jumped the shark.
Al Franken would make a great POTUS! (Ha, autocorrect changed his name to Frankenstein, lol).
This may cause Karen to cancel my lifetime liberal membership card, but in the one situation you rightly cite as an example of left overreacting, the victim, Whoopie Goldberg, is also of the left. Would there be such a quick condemnation if the left’s victim were from the right? Somehow I feel different standards might apply.
I think ABC total overreacted by canceling Whoopi for two weeks. I’m glad Sheila brought up the whole thing. I will only say “mitakuye oyasin” and let it go at that.
I briefly agreed with the above commentary but then I watched her on Stephen Colbert’s show the night of her comment on The View. She defended her comment. When Colbert reminded her that Hitler called the Jews a race, she responded that he lied. My impression was not of a sincere apology. It was an apology rooted in her desire to stop the attacks. To Whoopi, if you can’t tell by looking, you’re not a race. If someone tells me they are Asian, Native American, African American or even a man or a woman, I accept and believe them. It doesn’t matter how they appear to me.
Franken has a podcast on YouTube.
Franken is missed. I miss his thoroughness, preparedness and professionalism. And his true lefty leanings, which I agree with. He took the job very seriously, because–I think–he understood that the work they did could make a real difference in the lives of the people on whose behalf he served. That said, I’m not sure I’d describe him as “respectful.” Perhaps if one tacked on “when deserved” or “in his own way?” But some of his book titles are so beautifully funny that they make me happier just seeing them. As examples,
– (1996) Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations
– (2004) Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right
– (2017, autobiography) Al Franken, Giant of the Senate
Plus, his Mitch McConnell impersonation is uncannily perfect.
Also, as Christopher noted, he has a podcast, and it’s very good… you know, for a change. (If you’ve watched his podcast, you’ll get that last reference is his regular joke on it.)
well said, thank you for this.
One thing that some may get from this is the correct spelling of Whoopi! It is not ‘Whoopie’. I hope she will be back on “The View” very soon. The blog today is a very important one. Thanks, Sheila. I miss Al Franken, too! Glad to learn of his podcast.
I missed the brouhaha because I was away and, somewhat wonderfully, unconnected. I think Whoopi is a wonderful
being, and she demonstrated that with her heartfelt apology, and openness to learning. She is an intelligent woman,
and her ignorance of the racism inherent in the Nazi perspective seems, to me, to be an indication of the lack of
knowledge about that Nazi perspective within the U.S., and,perhaps, beyond.
But, I am not of the opinion that if “everyone” understood that there is no such thing as different races of humans that
either anti-semitism, or other forms of bigotry, would magically disappear. Too many people seem to need scapegoats
to explain how the world works, and/or to feel one-up relative to others.
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