Entertainer Whoopi Goldberg kicked off Black History Month by unleashing a racial firestorm. The ladies of “The View” have a history of incendiary comments and actions that would get people who were less famous and less politically liberal fired. In the cancel culture era, being progressive is the only thing that allows people involved with blackface scandals to remain gainfully employed.
Despite appropriating Jewish culture via a name change, Goldberg, the woman formerly known as Caryn Elaine Johnson, is not Jewish. Nevertheless, Goldberg decided it was appropriate to discuss the nuances of the Holocaust as an authority. Goldberg is neither a historian nor a professor; she is an entertainer. To put it plainly, celebrities who reference the Holocaust, Adolf Hitler or Nazis often have no idea what they are talking about. As former South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy pointed out to Harris Faulkner on “Outnumbered,” being famous is not the same thing as knowing things.
Goldberg stated that the Holocaust had nothing to do with race. Her “reasoning” was that since the Nazis and the Jews they murdered were both light-skinned, there was no racial component to the Holocaust. Anyone with the slightest understanding of the Holocaust knows that Goldberg’s comments were ignorant and offensive. Jews come in all colors. There are Black Jews, Hispanic Jews and Asian Jews among others. While most European Jews in the 1930s and 1940s were light-skinned, the Nazis did not consider them to be white. The Nazis viewed the Jews as an inferior race. The Holocaust was absolutely a case of one group of people using their perceived racial superiority and purity to murder people they labeled racially inferior.
Again, this is not Goldberg’s first racially charged incident. She laughed heartily as her then-boyfriend Ted Danson dressed up in blackface and used the n-word repeatedly in front of her at a 1993 Friar’s Club roast. Danson was given a free pass for his behavior in a comedic setting, and Goldberg escaped serious scrutiny for playing along. Goldberg has also defended her current co-host Joy Behar for dressing up in blackface. But somehow she has always managed to emerge with a free pass.
Goldberg did, however, receive pushback from her co-stars, Behar and Ana Navarro, who disagreed with her Holocaust comments and were unexpected voices of reason in a moment of severe historical revisionism.
Goldberg’s attempts to clean up her comments were disastrous. Even leftist late night host Stephen Colbert could not rescue Goldberg from herself. Her non-apology apology was comprised primarily of her regret that others were “misunderstanding” her comments. But in fact, her comments were understood perfectly and seen for exactly what they were: an example of bigotry and ignorance. Her comments were mindless and insensitive, and the public outcry in the wake of her remarks is evidence of this.
While it may be tempting to simply dismiss the co-hosts of “The View” as incapable of offering intelligent comments on social and historical events, this would be a mistake. Dismissing them essentially gives them a free pass and limits the extent to which they are responsible for their words. Goldberg is an adult who has learned about the Holocaust and should know better. Ignorance is no excuse.
ABC executives did suspend Goldberg for two weeks, a meaningless symbolic action that amounts to little more than a fortnight vacation. Terminating her employment entirely would be a more appropriate response. But that, too, would be a mistake.
Conservatives are not calling for Goldberg to be fired. Nor should they. They also are not calling for a boycott. Conservatives worship at the altar of free speech, and while Goldberg’s comments were not just offensive but also historically inaccurate, she has a right to express her beliefs.
Conservatives are not calling for Goldberg to be fired. Nor should they.
Goldberg later apologized again for her comments in a post on Twitter. Under normal conditions, that should put the matter to rest. Sadly, America is not living under normal conditions. Plenty of other people have been subjected to cancel culture, with leftists leading the charge. Progressives regularly ban words, tear down statues, and demand that people be fired for regrettable comments.
Just ask Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. The freshman legislator from rural Georgia made idiotic comments about Jewish space lasers. She tearfully called up various Jewish groups to apologize. There was no mercy for her. She was stripped of her committee assignments. She is now a pariah in America who is politically radioactive.
Goldberg and Greene both made terrible comments that were offensive to Jews. Only Greene was deemed so evil that she had to be driven from the town square. Goldberg, on the other hand, will return to her public platform in two weeks having suffered very few consequences. Goldberg is on the political left while Greene is on the right. It would seem that is the only reason similar utterances are treated differently.
The truth is that neither Goldberg nor Greene are antisemites. Neither of these two women spoke out of deliberate malice. They both made bad verbal mistakes. They both apologized in a manner more clumsy than their original comments. They both dug a hole and kept digging.
We as Americans and creatures of God should offer both of these women a helping hand out of that dark hole. Forgiveness truly is divine. To smear either Goldberg or Greene as antisemites is wrong. Exploiting awful comments for political gain will stop when everyone stops keeping score and accepts that we are all part of one American family.
Most importantly, falsely labeling someone a bigot and taking away their financial livelihood detracts from and trivializes real bigotry from people like David Duke and Ilhan Omar. Duke and Omar remain steadfastly unapologetic for their lengthy history of antisemitic comments. Duke and Omar hate Jews. Shunning and rejecting them is perfectly appropriate.
But Goldberg and Greene are not Duke and Omar, and should be forgiven. Let us move forward by condemning all real bigotry without canceling people who say things that they regret.
Eric Golub is a comedian, author and retired stockbrokerage professional living in Los Angeles. His interests include football, politics, Judaism, the stock market, and Angela Lansbury’s “Murder, She Wrote.”