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.