Late Tuesday, ABC News suspended American actor and comedian Whoopi Goldberg for two weeks from the daytime talk show “The View” for insisting on the program the previous day that the Holocaust was “not about race.”
During a “Hot Topics” segment Monday, while the panel was discussing the recent banning of Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel Maus by a Tennessee school board, Goldberg said, “Let’s be truthful about it, because the Holocaust isn’t about race. No. It’s not about race.”
When asked by co-host Joy Behar to explain her comments, Goldberg asserted, “It’s about man’s inhumanity to man. That’s what it’s about,” and then added, “These are two white groups of people. You’re missing the point. The minute you turn it into race, it goes down this alley. Let’s talk about it for what it is. It’s how people treat each other. It’s a problem. It doesn’t matter if you’re Black, or white, ’cause Blacks, whites, Jews, everybody eats other.”
Following a media backlash—including charges that her comments were anti-Semitic, dangerous and provided comfort to fascism—Goldberg admitted she was wrong and apologized via Twitter on Monday night. When she appeared on Stephen Colbert’s “The Late Show” that evening, she apologized and said that, as a black person, she thinks of racism as only being about skin color and “Folks are angry. I accept that and I did it to myself.”
Goldberg apologized for a third time on Tuesday at the beginning of “The View,” saying she felt a responsibility to examine her words and had never intended to “upset so many people.” She said that she had learned from the experience and was “deeply, deeply grateful because the information I got was really helpful and helped me understand some different things.”
However, none of this mattered to Kim Godwin, president of ABC News, who said in a statement that Goldberg’s comments were “wrong and hurtful,” and, furthermore, even though, “Whoopi has apologized, I’ve asked her to take time to reflect and learn about the impact of her comments. The entire ABC News organization stands in solidarity with our Jewish colleagues, friends, family and communities.”
While the comments by Whoopi Goldberg expressed confusion and ignorance, they were not anti-Semitic. Her statements expressed a false conception, especially among those influenced by the obsessive racialist categorization of human beings as either “people of color” or “white,” that the murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazis during World War II was not about “race.” However, it is a historical fact that the policy of mass extermination by the Nazis was carried out based on the view that Jews were an inferior race.
It is clear from all that has occurred since Monday that, regardless of the sincerity with which Goldberg has acknowledged her mistake, in the present environment, a badly chosen word or incorrect statement on topics related to racial or ethnic identity can damage or even end a career in almost any field. Rather than expanding the discussion on the nature of anti-Semitism and the social and political causes of the Holocaust—subjects with enormous contemporary relevance—ABC News moved quickly to punish Goldberg and bury the issue.
The phony moral outrage of the millionaire executives who run the American media conceals the real facts of life: that anti-Semitism is rife within sections of the ruling elite and that US imperialism has close relations with raving anti-Semites wherever it is politically expedient.
Donald Trump has referred to neo-Nazis and white supremacists as “very fine people.” He mobilized members of multiple fascist groups as shock troops in the January 6 mob assault on the US Capitol aimed at overturning the 2020 presidential election result.
One of the individuals involved in the attack on Congress, Robert Packer, wore a sweatshirt that read “Camp Auschwitz: Work brings freedom,” referring to the Nazi death camp in Poland where 1.1 million people were exterminated, the majority of them Jews, and its notorious motto. Packer was welcomed by the January 6 crowd as one of its own. Also in January 2021, at a pro-Trump, “Moms for America” rally, Republican Congresswoman Mary Miller told the crowd, “Hitler was right on one thing. He said, ‘Whoever has the youth has the future.’”
When a vote in the House was held to remove Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, an open anti-Semite and Holocaust denier, from her committee assignments, 199 Republicans voted in her defense.
While Whoopi Goldberg receives a suspension for her comments, none of the fascists serving in Washington or their supporters faces serious media scrutiny or exposure.
Furthermore, while leading Democratic Party officials occasionally criticize Republicans for their extreme right-wing “excesses,” the Biden administration is currently and publicly in alliance with hard-core fascists and anti-Semites among the Ukrainian militias. As the WSWS has noted, one of the biggest lies of all “is that the US and NATO are engaged in a defense of ‘democracy’ and against ‘foreign aggression.’ The Ukrainian government and state apparatus is riddled with neo-Nazi paramilitary forces who played a central role in the 2014 putsch. This includes the Svoboda party, which the European Parliament had formally condemned for its ‘racist, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic views,’ and the neo-Nazi Right Sector militia and Azov Battalion.”
The Azov Battalion, among the “heroic,” “democratic” forces promoted by Biden and the Democrats, as well as the Republicans, are a group of open admirers of the Nazis whose leader, Andriy Biletsky, has professed his support for the “crusade of the white nations of the world against the Semitic-led subhumans.”
The media response to Whoopi Goldberg’s insensitive remarks about the Holocaust is out of proportion to their content, dishonest and distorted, like so many cultural developments at present.