Goldberg made the comment while talking about a Tennessee school district's recent banning of Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust, "Maus."
Whoopi Goldberg got this one way wrong, and her co-hosts on "The View" were quick to push back on her assertions that the Holocaust was not about race. They were followed by the Anti-Defamation League and a good portion of social media. Later in the day, Goldberg apologized via Twitter.
Goldberg made the assertion Monday during a discussion of the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel by Art Spiegelman's "Maus." The classic book of World War II and the Holocaust, which casts mice as Jews and cats as Nazis, found itself once gain embroiled in controversy after a Tennessee school district voted to ban it.
"If you’re going to do this, then let’s be truthful about it, because the Holocaust isn't about race," said Goldberg. When Joy Behar asked her what it was about then, Goldberg replied, "It's about man's inhumanity to man, that's what it's about."
Sparks fly as The View panel confronts Whoopi after she says "the Holocaust isn't about race. No. It's not about race." "Well, the considered Jews a different race," Joy Behar says.
Ana Navarro tried to interject, arguing, "Well, it's about white supremacy. That's what it's about. It's about going after Jews and gypsies." Gypsy is seen as a racist term by many Romani people.
"These are two white groups of people," Goldberg pushed back, referring to Nazis and Jews. Goldberg did not back down her stance during the show, but the Anti-Defamation League was almost immediate in their response and clarification that there was, of course, a massive racial factor to the Holocaust.
"No @WhoopiGoldberg, the #Holocaust was about the Nazi’s systematic annihilation of the Jewish people – who they deemed to be an inferior race," tweeted ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. "They dehumanized them and used this racist propaganda to justify slaughtering 6 million Jews. Holocaust distortion is dangerous."
The US Holocaust Museum echoed the ADL statement with one of their own, tweeting, "Racism was central to Nazi ideology. Jews were not defined by religion, but by race. Nazi racist beliefs fueled genocide and mass murder."
The Auschwitz Memorial helpfully offered up a chart breaking down the Nazi party's "pseudo-scientific division of people into races," which they used to subjugate various groups of people like Jews, and that they used to define their ideal pure race. In other words, race as they defined it was central to so much of the atrocities the Nazis were committing.
Debra Messing also tweeted at Goldberg, writing, "You deeply hurt &offended me. By minimizing the horror of the Holocaust, the systematic annihilating of 6 MILLION Jews-which by the way IS a race-an attempted GENOCIDE to white on white crime? You 'All Lives Matter,' -ed us. Devastating & dangerous."
Removing race from the Holocaust conversation delegitimizes literal centuries of racial oppression and suffering that the Jewish community has endured at the hands of so many different peoples and governments, while also fueling dangerous Holocaust deniers and minimizers from acknowledging the deep racial hatred that allows such systemic horrors to unfold legally and with the support of a system of government and its populace.
In her apology, Goldberg quoted Greenblatt's tweet, acknowledging, "I stand corrected."
She clarified further in her statement that what she should have said is that the Holocaust was about "man's inhumanity to man" and it was about race. "The Jewish people have always had my support and that will never waiver," she wrote. "I'm sorry for the hurt I have caused."
You can check out her full statement and apology below.