Whoopi Goldberg, co-host of ABC’s “The View,” set off a firestorm when she insisted on Jan. 31, 2022 that the Holocaust was “not about race.” Hands outstretched, she went on to describe the genocide as a conflict between “two white groups of people.”
As someone who writes and teaches about racial identity, I was struck by the firmness of Goldberg’s initial claim, her clumsy retraction and apologies, and the heated public reactions.
Her apology tour on her own show the next day, on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and on Twitter raised more questions about her views on race, antisemitism and the Holocaust. Goldberg also seemed unaware of the non-Jewish victims of the Nazis. By the end of the week, the president of ABC News described Goldberg’s remarks as “wrong and hurtful” and announced that she was suspended from the show for two weeks.
How did a conversation about the controversial banning of the Holocaust graphic book “Maus” by the Tennessee Board of Education, which Goldberg opposed, turn into such a media spectacle? And what does it tell us about the social norms guiding how we talk about race and violence?