When Whoopi Goldberg last month proclaimed that the Holocaust was not a racial assault on Jews, she denied Jewish peoplehood—managing not only to express anti-Semitism but also to lend support to haters of Israel.
Whoopi said on ABC’s influential program “The View” that “the Holocaust isn’t about race. It’s about man’s inhumanity to man.”
After a tepid apology on Twitter for the outrage her comment unleashed, she appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” to say, “Most of the Nazis were white people and most of the people they were attacking were white people. How can you say it’s about race if you are fighting each other? This wasn’t racial. This was about white on white.”
Goldberg’s ignorance and superficiality are mind-boggling. Just like today’s woke intersectionalists, she believes Jews are indistinguishable from “white” people—despite the fact that Jews are somehow the single most likely victims of hate crimes in the United States.
To Adolf Hitler, it was all about race—defending the purity of his German volk (pure-blooded German Aryans) from contamination by “Jewish vermin.”
The first steps leading to the Holocaust were the 1935 Nuremberg Laws. That legislation codified the exclusion of Jews from most aspects of public life in Nazi Germany, including marriages or sexual relationships between Jews and the volk.
One irony of Goldberg’s ignorance is that the Nazis used the U.S. Jim Crow laws as a model.
Heinrich Krieger, the most important Nazi scholar of American law, admired that—despite America’s stated “commitment to equality”—so many states had cleverly passed racial laws against minorities. Thus did the legal underpinnings of the Holocaust rely on America’s own racist laws against its African-American population.
Herbert Kier, a leading light of German academia, wrote in the 1934 National Socialist Handbook for Law and Legislation that America was “liberal and democratic,” but was happily surprised at “how extensive race legislation is in the USA.” He delighted in carefully worded laws that “forbid mixed marriages between white and colored races,” and that precisely defined what constituted “colored.” And he was favorably impressed that, in America, races were segregated “even in prisons,” using detailed genealogical charts to classify multi-racial individuals.
Goldberg’s ludicrous position on racism and the Holocaust is much indebted to the nature of our times, in which racism has been simplistically vectored into a context of “white privilege.”
“As a black person, I think of race as being something that I can see. So I see you and I know what race you are,” she said.
Despite this parodic observation that all white people look alike, anyone with normal vision can visually differentiate most Icelanders from Arabs, and Swedes from Sicilians. For centuries, racist anti-Semites have managed to discern Jews with stunning ease—Nazis were especially adept at it.
Goldberg would no doubt be baffled trying to use her primitive standard to pick out the Jews in Israel, where more than half are brown-skinned, with roots in Africa and the Middle East—and where 20 percent of the population is Arab and similarly brown-skinned.
Yet Goldberg’s ignorant denial of Jewish peoplehood poses a deeper, more troubling problem: If Jews are just another group of white folks, what does that mean for the Jewish homeland, Israel? Rather than an indigenous people reclaiming their ancestral homeland, Israelis can be characterized as undifferentiated white European colonists stealing land from Arabs.
Jewish peoplehood originated in the Middle East and is defined by its remarkable combination of history, culture, values, language and religion, developed over many millennia and in many places. Today, it again finds its national expression in Israel.
Ultimately, the German volk doctrine and the modern American concept of “race” are both pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo. This bankruptcy of the language of race was accidentally clarified by Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
Greenblatt, of course, condemned Goldberg. But he attacked from a pathetic position of weakness.
The definition of racism on the ADL’s progressive website? “The marginalization and/or oppression of people of color based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy that privileges white people.”
It seems that using its own politically correct language, the ADL—siding with Whoopi—would absolve even the most committed Nazis of “racism,” since they targeted mostly white Jews.
Embarrassed, the ADL, in Orwellian fashion, has dropped this definition of racism down the memory-hole, replacing it online with one that would indeed identify Hitler as a racist.
Whoopi Goldberg’s denial of the anti-Semitic horror of the Holocaust ignores the Nazi regime’s own stated racist motives, and desecrates its victims.
Whoopi’s dismissal of the Holocaust as “white-on-white inhumanity” ignores Jews’ rich and singular history as a people—and as a group that has now rightfully reclaimed its ancestral homeland.
Ken Cohen is co-editor of the Hotline published by Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which offers educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.