The problem with a talk show format in which multiple hosts sit at a round table spitting out hot takes is that there’s constant pressure to deliver the hottest take of the week.
At least we assume that there’s some such internal competition among the stars of The View.
How else to explain the wildly ignorant remarks about the Holocaust that host Whoopi Goldberg made on air this week?
The trouble began during a discussion about a Tennessee school board’s decision to remove from its curriculum the acclaimed graphic novel Maus, in which Jews are depicted as mice, and their Nazi tormentors are portrayed as cats.
The hosts seemed to be in agreement that the removal was an egregious error, as the Holocaust cannot be effectively taught without exposing students to the full brunt of its horrors.
That’s when Goldberg made a statement that baffled both her co-stars and the audience.
“If you’re going to do this, then let’s be truthful about it, because the Holocaust isn’t about race,” said Goldberg.
Co-host Joy Behar asked Goldberg to elaborate, leading the comic to remark:
“It’s about man’s inhumanity to man, that’s what it’s about.”
“Well, it’s about white supremacy. That’s what it’s about. It’s about going after Jews and gypsies,” Ana Navarro chimed in.
Navarro may have meant well, but the consensus is that she made the situation worse, as “gypsy” is itself a racial slur.
“These are two white groups of people,” Goldberg argued, presumably referring ro Jews and Nazis.
“The minute you turn it into race, it goes down this alley,” Whoopi continued.
“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 or Jews or Italians — everybody eats each other,” she continued.
Not surprisingly, the conversation stirred up considerable controversy on social media, with many calling for Goldberg to apologize for her offensive remarks.
“No @WhoopiGoldberg, the #Holocaust was about the Nazi’s systematic annihilation of the Jewish people – who they deemed to be an inferior race,” tweeted Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.
“They dehumanized them and used this racist propaganda to justify slaughtering 6 million Jews. Holocaust distortion is dangerous,” Greenblatt continued.
“Racism was central to Nazi ideology. Jews were not defined by religion, but by race. Nazi racist beliefs fueled genocide and mass murder.”
The Twitter account for the Auschwitz Memorial offered up to clear up Goldberg’s confusion by tweeting a chart breaking down the Nazi party’s “pseudo-scientific division of people into races.”
“You deeply hurt &offended me,” actress Debra Messing tweeted.
“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?” Messing added.
“You ‘All Lives Matter,’ -ed us. Devastating & dangerous.”
Thankfully, Goldberg made no effort to defend her argument and instead issued what appears to be a sincere apology:
“On today’s show, I said the Holocaust ‘is not about race, but about man’s inhumanity to man,’” she began.
“I should have said it is about both.
“As Jonathan Greenblatt from the Anti-Defamation League shared, ‘The Holocaust was about the Nazi’s systemic annihilation of the Jewish people — who they deemed to be an inferior race,’” the host went on.
“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.”
This is obviously not the first controversy surrounding The View, and as has happened so many times in the past, critics are once again calling for ABC to cancel the show.
But it’s worth noting that Goldberg’s remarks seemed to be born of ignorance, not hatred.
If she’s truly internalized the lessons of the past 24 hours, then there’s no reason that Goldberg — who has a long history of civil rights activism — cannot be forgiven for the foolishness she demonstrated on air.
And hopefully, others who might have shared her blinkered view of the past also benefited from this week’s unexpected history lesson.