Whoopie Goldberg Denies the Holocaust Was Racist

I’m sure you’re sick and tired of hearing about this by now, but I thought I’d put my tuppence worth in. A few days ago Whoopie Goldberg caused outrage with her comments on the View that the Holocaust wasn’t about race. She and the other women were discussing the decision of an American school to withdraw Art Spiegelman’s classic graphic novel, Maus, from the school library. The book is a metaphorical treatment of the Holocaust in which the Jews are portrayed as mice and the Nazis as cats. It’s based on the stories Spiegelman was told by his father, a Holocaust survivor, about his experiences in Poland. It’s highly acclaimed and is one of the very best examples of the heights comic art and sequential storytelling can achieve. But one school has withdrawn it from the library because of its nudity and violence, particularly the killing of children. I can appreciate the school’s point of view, because I think that I would have been very shocked and disturbed by such scenes when I was a young teenager. But as the Holocaust is shocking and horrifying because of this and more, it’s problematic whether it can be fairly portrayed without including those elements.

However, Goldberg then jumped in with both feet and questioned the racial basis of the Holocaust itself. She decided it wasn’t racist, because both Jews and Nazis were White. It was instead about ‘man’s inhumanity to man’. She then made some kind of half-hearted apology in which she said that it had been explained to her that the Holocaust was racist, but that both views were right. Then she appeared on Stephen Colbert’s show doubling down on her line that the Holocaust wasn’t racist because both Jews and ‘Aryan’ Germans were White. The last thing I heard was that she’s now been suspended for two weeks.

Of course the Holocaust was racist. The Lotus Eaters and other right-wing sites, keen to attack Goldberg because of her left-wing views, have cited speeches from Hitler and Nazi racial propaganda against the Jews which explicitly talk about race in very clear terms. The racist basis of the Holocaust and Nazi anti-Semitism is very well-documented and undeniable.

Goldberg has tried to explain or excuse herself by saying that it was really about ethnicity. She seems to view race purely in terms of colour, which is natural as a Black American, but a mistake. The term ‘race’ has had a number of reasons down the centuries, which is why books on the history of the idea of race are very careful to define it and describe how it has changed and its varieties of meaning. One of which is indeed ethnicity.

I don’t think Goldberg was trying to be offensive or that she was being anti-Semitic. She didn’t deny the Holocaust and clearly condemns it. She’s just ignorant about Nazi racism. And some Nazi material does bring colour into the question. The handbook on race given to the Hitler Youth, for example, also attacks the Slavs as non-Aryan subhumans. This shows the peoples of eastern Europe becoming more Asiatic in appearance in accordance with the Nazi dogma that they’re really a ‘mongrel’, Asian people.

There are any number of excellent books about the development of the concept of race. One I’ve come across is Race: The History of an Idea in the West, which is a very thorough treatment of the subject. I recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about the subject, and how the term was used to include various White peoples by the founders of pseudo-scientific racism like Count Gobineau.

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7 Responses to “Whoopie Goldberg Denies the Holocaust Was Racist”

  1. trev Says:

    She must be under the impression that racism only applies to Black people, but isn’t Goldberg a Jewish surname?

    • beastrabban Says:

      I think it is. One of the commenters on one of the sites reporting this claimed that her real name is Caryn Johnson. She took the name ‘Whoopie’ as she was flatulent, and the surname ‘Goldberg’ because she thought it would get her a job in Hollywood. Which I think is actually anti-Semitic under the I.H.R.A. definition, as it assumes that Jews control the media.

      • Cloverleaf Says:

        If you think about it there aren’t any ‘races’ we are one big human family, that’s how I see it, what do you think?

      • beastrabban Says:

        HI Cloverleaf – well, there’s the old anti-racist slogan, ‘One Race – the Human Race’. Scientists don’t talk about race now except in terms of genes and populations, and there’s a considerable amount of genetic variety in sub-Saharan Africa. This seen as showing that there isn’t a single ‘Black’ race. But colour is nevertheless part of people’s national identity the world over, even if sometimes it is defined in terms of culture.

      • trev Says:

        Or as Bahá’u’lláh put it, “the earth is one country and Mankind its citizens”.

  2. Cloverleaf Says:

    Yes one flat earth lol.

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