Whoopi Goldberg's Suspension From The View Was Not Necessary (But Not For The Reason You Might Think)

On the January 31, 2022 episode of ABC's "The View," the hosts were discussing the recent decision by a Tennessee school district to ban Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning serialized nonfiction graphic novel "Maus." Spiegelman wrote "Maus" by interviewing his father about his experiences as a Polish Jew and survivor of the Holocaust, depicting Jews as mice, Germans as cats, Poles as pigs, Americans as dogs, the English as fish, the French as frogs, and the Swedish as deer. The district banned the book on grounds of "inappropriate language and nudity," an absurd claim to make regarding a book about the mass genocide of over six million people, and a clear act of antisemitism.

During the discussion of the book banning, co-host Whoopi Goldberg made the ill-informed comment, "Let's be truthful about it because Holocaust isn't about race," she said. "It's not about race, it's not about race, it's about man's inhumanity to man." "The View" co-host Ana Navarro immediately corrected her, stating, "But it's about white supremacists going after Jews." Goldberg disagreed and replied, "But these are two white groups of people!" She continued, "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 doesn't matter if you're Black or white, Jews, it's each other." Goldberg's comments immediately came under fire for being antisemitic, and as of Tuesday night, ABC News president Kim Godwin had announced to staff that Goldberg would be suspended for two weeks "for her wrong and hurtful comments."

Goldberg's Colbert Appearance Exacerbated the Situation

After the comments began flooding in regarding Goldberg's remarks on "The View," she recorded an episode of "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" where she continued the conversation and clarified her reasoning for believing that the Holocaust was not a race issue. Unfortunately, "The Late Show" aired after Goldberg had already issued an apology for her statements. This led to people viewing her appearance on "Colbert" as doubling down, not realizing that the apology was written after she had been rightfully called in and educated, as well as after her appearance had been recorded.

On Tuesday morning, Goldberg apologized publicly on "The View," in addition to a segment that included an interview with Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. Her apology went as follows:

"Yesterday on the show I misspoke. [The Holocaust] is indeed about race, because Hitler and the Nazis considered the Jews to be an inferior race. Now, words matter, and mine are no exception. I regret my comments and I stand corrected. I also stand with the Jewish people."

ABC's decision to suspend Goldberg came after this public apology. There are plenty who see her suspension as a good thing, but many acknowledge it as a double-standard when compared to other hosts who have said offensive and problematic things in the past. The decision also continues to pit the Black and Jewish communities against one another.

Goldberg's Comments Stem From Common Misconceptions

Antisemitic hate crimes are on the rise not just in the United States, but around the world, and they have been, steadily, for some time. It's impossible to fathom just how deeply embedded antisemitism is in our global society, as it isn't just an act of discrimination or bigotry, but is linked to and birthed out of dangerous conspiracy theories that cause legitimate harm, continually putting the Jewish people in danger.

We (meaning Americans in this instance) frequently apply America's perspective of racism onto other countries and time periods, discussing them as if we're making a one-to-one comparison, which is not always applicable, and fosters ignorance. Jewish educational professional, essayist, and TikTok creator Shekhiynah Larks offered an important and nuanced dissection of how Goldberg came to her incorrect conclusion, noting that we often forget that whiteness in America has changed over time, where people who weren't considered "white" during the turn of the 20th century (Jews, Italians, Greeks, Poles, Hungarians, Slavs, etc.) are typically seen as white today as many of us benefit from white supremacy due to our lack of melanin and eurocentric features. But the Holocaust was absolutely about race, as the Jewish people were not only viewed as "not white," but subhuman and often compared vermin or disease.

While I cannot speak on behalf of Goldberg nor will I ever attempt to do so, it appears that her statements are rooted in ignorance on the subject matter from a history of misinformation, and perhaps most importantly, her own lived experiences as a Black woman in America. "The core of the problem is that people don't realize we're working with two definitions of race," Larks said in another video. "White supremacy and Aryanism define race in different ways."

Was Suspension the Right Call?

When people cause harm, accountability and making amends are necessary, and it very much seems like Goldberg was putting in the work to repair the harm that she caused. I can't help but view her suspension as a performative move, especially considering ultra-conservative Meghan McCain was never suspended during her four-year run on "The View" despite making a plethora of offensive and straight-up racist comments. Why was McCain given "teachable moments" while Goldberg was put on suspension the same day she brought on Greenblatt to have him help explain why the Holocaust absolutely was about race?

While I assume ABC's intentions came from the right place, this move not only expresses an unnecessary desire for punitive measures, it's also already stirring up more antisemitism from those who feel her suspension was an overcorrection, which we will not be linking to because giving hatred more attention is like giving oxygen to a forest fire. If there's any silver lining to be found in this situation, it's that Goldberg's misstep has at least sparked much-needed and long-overdue discussions about antisemitism, why it endures today and has for centuries. 

Stand up for your Jewish friends, call out antisemitism, learn from the mistakes of others, and educate yourself and your community.