NEW YORK — The actress Whoopi Goldberg has apologized for saying the Holocaust was not about race, comments that caused a backlash.
She made the initial comments on ABC’s “The View” program on Monday morning. Her apology, hours later, was welcomed by Jewish leaders in the U.S., and the chairman of Israel’s national Holocaust memorial invited her for an educational visit.
“On today’s show, I said the Holocaust ‘is not about race, but about man’s inhumanity to man.’ I should have said it is about both. As Jonathan Greenblatt from the Anti-Defamation League shared, ‘The Holocaust was about the Nazi’s systematic annihilation of the Jewish people — who they deemed to be an inferior race.’ I stand corrected,” Goldberg said.
“The Jewish people around the world have always had my support and that will never waiver. I’m sorry for the hurt I have caused. Written with my sincerest apologies, Whoopi Goldberg,” she said.
The hosts on “The View” were discussing a Tennessee school board’s banning of “Maus,” a graphic novel about the Nazi death camps during World War Two. The board cited nudity and profanity as its reasons for banning the book, which has won several literary awards, including a Pulitzer Prize.
Goldberg said: “I’m surprised that’s what made you uncomfortable, the fact that there was some nudity. I mean, it’s about the Holocaust, the killing of six million people, but that didn’t bother you? If you’re going to do this, then let’s be truthful about it. Because the Holocaust isn’t about race. No, it’s not about race.”
Joy Behar said that the Nazis said Jews were a different race.
“But it’s not about race. It’s not. It’s about man’s inhumanity to other man,” Goldberg replied.
Ana Navarro responded: “But it’s about white supremacy. It’s about going after Jews and Gypsies and Roma.”
Goldberg said: “But these are two white groups of people.”
Sara Haines pointed out that the Nazis didn’t see Jewish people as white.
“But you’re missing the point!” Goldberg said. “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.”
Greenblatt thanked Goldberg late Monday night.
“Thanks @WhoopiGoldberg for correcting your prior statement and acknowledging the #Holocaust for what it was. As #antisemitism surges to historic levels, I hope we can work together to combat ignorance of that horrific crime and the hate that threatens all,” he tweeted.
Goldberg’s “apology and clarification are important,” said Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan, who invited her to the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem to “learn more about the causes, events and aftermath of the Holocaust.” His statement said Goldberg’s comments on the show indicated “a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the Holocaust & antisemitism.”
“We must not mince words; people need to know what led to the Holocaust, the unprecedented murderous drive to annihilate the entire Jewish people their religion, culture and values by the Nazis and their collaborators, primarily because of the unfounded belief that Jews were their foremost and extremely dangerous racial enemy,” Dayan said.
“I get what she was trying to say,” said Jill Savitt, the president and CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, who earlier ran the Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. “The Nazis created a construct about race to claim that some people were lesser humans.”
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