I’ll probably regret this, but I’m going to weigh in on the Whoopi Goldberg controversy. For those who may be unaware, here are the facts of the matter at hand:
On Monday, during a discussion on The View about a Tennessee school board’s decision to ban the Pulitzer prize-winning Holocaust graphic novel Maus, Whoopi Goldberg made this comment …
“Let’s be truthful, the Holocaust isn’t about race, it’s not. It’s about man’s inhumanity to man, that’s what it’s about. These are two groups of white people. You’re missing the point … let’s talk about it for what it really is. It’s about how people treat each other. It’s a problem. It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, Jews … everybody eats each other.”
And thus began the uproar with many calling her remarks anti-Semitic and calling for her head on a platter. Now, before I tackle this, let me just note that I was born into a household with a Jewish father and a Catholic mother and was raised in both religions in my early years (quite possibly this explains why I am a non-believer now). Many of my most beloved relatives were Jewish and although I believe in no religion and do not consider myself Jewish, I am definitely not anti-Semitic. That said, I am a realist and I thrive on facts.
If one looks at the facts of what Whoopi said, she is correct. Judaism is not a race, it is an ethnicity, it is a religion. Condemnation of Jews, attacks on Jews, are a form of ethnic hatred and religious bigotry, but are not racism! What Whoopi said may not have been the most sensitive or politically correct thing to say, I’ll give you that, but technically she was correct … every form of bigotry is about “man’s inhumanity to man”, but not every form of bigotry is racism.
Kim Godwin, president of ABC News, immediately suspended Whoopi for a period of two weeks, even though she apologized both online and during Tuesday morning’s episode of The View. I see nothing … absolutely nothing … that is anti-Semitic in Ms. Goldberg’s remark. Insensitive? Probably. Anti-Semitic? Hardly.
Race is defined as “a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits.” You recognize a Black person you see on the streets by the colour of his skin and sometimes other physical traits, but one cannot point to a person and say he/she is Jewish, for there are no physically defining characteristics. That is why the Nazis forced Jews to always wear a gold Star of David on their clothing, so they could recognize them as being Jews. By definition, Judaism is a religion, a set of beliefs and people can either choose to believe or not. Think about that for a minute. If you are Black or Asian, you cannot simply decide not to be Black or Asian anymore. However, you can and many, like myself, do decide not to be Jewish or Catholic or Protestant or Buddhist.
Whoopi Goldberg might have done herself a favour if she had thought before she spoke, however she is not an anti-Semite and is not, as far as I can tell, a bigot in any way, shape or form. She apologized and I’m guessing it is a topic she will broach much more cautiously in the future. Just something to think about, because with so many forms of bigotry becoming more prevalent in this, the 21st century, it can be mind-boggling.
As I’m sure this is a topic that may drive some degree of discussion and disagreement, I considered closing comments. Instead, since I do encourage a healthy sharing of various viewpoints, note that I am leaving comments open, but will promptly remove any comment that is disrespectful of anyone or any group. Got that?