Amid controversy over her recent comments about race and the Holocaust, Whoopi Goldberg attempted to clarify her intentions Monday night on Global’s “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert, and on Tuesday’s “The View”.
The controversy was sparked Monday on “The View”, where Goldberg had said, “The Holocaust isn’t about race…. It’s about man’s inhumanity to man,” adding that it was about “two groups of white people.”
Facing significant blowback, she took to Twitter in the evening to apologize:
— Whoopi Goldberg (@WhoopiGoldberg) February 1, 2022
On Tuesday, Goldberg took some time to address the controversy on “The View”, telling the audience, “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.”
Bringing on Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt to discuss the issue, the host added, “I know a lot of people were upset about what I said yesterday, and the things that I regret, so I wanted to clear this up.”
Greenblatt explained, “Whoopi, there is no question that the Holocaust was about race, that is how the Nazis saw it as they sought the systematic annihilation of the Jewish people — across continents, across countries, with deliberate and ruthless cruelty.”
“This is an ongoing discussion Jonathan, as you know, and one that we will continue to have because it is important, and because it affects all of us,” Goldberg said.
In her conversation on Monday night with Colbert, which was recorded before her apology on Twitter, but aired later at night, Goldberg attempted to explain the thinking behind her original comments on “The View”.
“It upset a lot of people, which was never ever, ever, ever my intention,” she told Colbert. “I thought we were having a discussion… because I feel, being Black, when we talk about race it’s a very different thing to me, so I said that I felt that the Holocaust wasn’t about race. And people got very, very, very angry, and still are angry. I’m getting all of the mail from folks, and very real anger, because people feel very differently.”
She continued, “But I thought it was a salient discussion because, 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, and the discussion was about how I felt about that.
“People were very angry, and they said, ‘No, no, we are a race,’ and I understand. I understand. I felt differently. I respect everything everyone is saying to me, and, you know, I don’t want to fake apologize. I’m very upset that people misunderstood what I was saying, and so because of it they’re saying that I’m anti-Semitic and that I’m denying the Holocaust, and all these other things which would never have occurred to me to do.
“I thought we were having a discussion about race, which everyone, I think, was having,” she added.
Colbert offered, “As the white guy in the conversation here, I am neither Jewish, nor am I Black, so I have a different perspective of all of this. It seems to that whiteness is a construct created by colonial powers during the beginning of the colonial imperialist era in order to exploit other people, and that they could apply it to all different kinds of people, that idea of race. And the American experience tends to be based on skin.”
“Yes, and so that’s what race means to me,” Goldberg replied. “When you talk about being a racist, I was saying, you can’t call this racism. This was evil. This wasn’t based on the skin. You couldn’t tell who was Jewish. They had to delve deeply to figure out.”
Colbert explained, “What I’ve read about how the Nazis operated, when they found out that you were of the Jewish race, that’s why they’d make you wear a star, so they could see.”
“So they could identify you. But my point is, they had to do the work,” Goldberg responded. “If the Klan is coming down the street, and I’m standing with a Jewish friend, and neither one—well, I’m going to run—but if my friend decides not to run, they’ll get passed by most times, because you can’t tell who’s Jewish. It’s not something that people say, ‘Oh, that person is Jewish,’ or, ‘This person is Jewish.’
“And so that’s what I was trying to explain, and I understand that not everybody sees it that way, and that I did a lot of harm, I guess, to myself, and people decided I was all these other things. I’m actually not. And I’m incredibly torn up by being told these things about myself. And you know, I get it, folks are angry, I accept that, and I did to myself. This was my thought process, and I will work hard not to think that way again.”
“Have you come to understand that the Nazis saw it as race? Because asking the Nazis, they would say, ‘Yes, it’s a racial issue,'” Colbert asked.
“Well, see, this is what’s interesting to me, because the Nazis lied,” Goldberg answered. “They had issues with ethnicity, not with race, because most of the Nazis were white people and most of the people they were attacking were white people, so to me, I’m thinking, How can you say it’s about race if you are fighting each other? So it all really began because I said, ‘How will we explain to children what happened in Nazi Germany?’ I said, ‘This wasn’t racial, this was about white on white,’ And everybody said, ‘No, no, no, it was racial,’ and so that’s what this all came from.”
Finally, Goldberg said, “So once again, don’t write me anymore, I know how you feel. I already know, I get it, and I’m going to take your word for it and never bring it up again.”