(February 3, 2022 / JNS) Whoopi Goldberg got herself into a terrible mess. She was suspended from her role as co-host of ABC’s ‘The View’ talk show after she said the Holocaust was not about race. Rather, it was, she said, “man-to-man inhumanity” involving “white people doing it to white people”.
She insisted, “It’s about how people treat each other. It is a problem. It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, Jews…everyone eats each other.
It was clearly silly. The hallmark of German Nazism was that it set out to exterminate Jews as a race, identifying them as targets for annihilation on the basis of even a tenuous ancestral connection to Judaism.
Attempting to apologize in the ensuing storm, Goldberg made things worse. Saying she had now learned that ‘Hitler and the Nazis viewed the Jews as an inferior race’, she then told Stephen Colbert on his late night comedy show that the Nazis had lied and were in fact in trouble not not with race but with ethnicity, which caused further outrage and prompted further apologies.
This furore shouldn’t be dismissed as just another ignorant celebrity making stupid and offensive remarks. For Goldberg did not arrive at these views in a vacuum. They reflect twisted attitudes of an alarming number of people, but which are generally glossed over because these people are black.
Goldberg has locked herself into this unedifying knot due to her assumption that racism isn’t racism unless it’s directed by whites against blacks.
This reflects critical race theory, the radical doctrine that defines individual identity in terms of skin color and holds that all relationships are defined by power. Identifying this power with economic or political success, she argues that white people are powerful and therefore the aggressors while people with brown or black skin are their helpless victims.
Racism, according to this dogma, is not defined as bigotry of one group against another but as bigotry with power. Therefore, black people can never be racist. And because this view also holds that Jews control white society, they are seen as powerful and therefore white, even when dark-skinned.
Thus, according to this pernicious theory, Jews can never be victims.
The West is currently plagued by epidemic anti-Semitism due to the rise of radical politics in three areas: the Muslim world, the left and the black community.
Radical Islamism merged Nazi and Soviet anti-Semitism with theological hatred of Islamic Jews.
The Western left, swayed by Marxist ideas based on the belief that capitalism means oppression and that the Jews are behind capitalism, has been captured by the “Palestinian” narrative of Israelis bent on domination and enslavement.
And the black community has shifted into very troubling attitudes towards Jews. In 1998, an Anti-Defamation League survey showed that African Americans were much more likely than white Americans to hold anti-Jewish beliefs.
Some commentators believe black resentment was fueled by the fact that although Jews and blacks both started at the bottom of society, Jews rose to the top while African Americans were left behind.
In recent years, the rise of critical race theory and intersectionality has fueled the belief among large swathes of the black community that almighty Jews pull all the strings in government and society.
In 2018, Trayon White, a Washington, DC, councilman blamed the snowy weather on the Rothschilds — and was reported to seem genuinely puzzled when told it had anti-Semitic overtones.
Rap song lyrics frequently used anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish money and power. In 2020, black celebrities released a series of anti-Jewish tropes such as that Jews controlled the media, wanted to “extort America”, and aimed to achieve “world domination”.
Many public figures continue to praise Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan despite his repeated conspiracy theories about Jewish power and “satanic” Jews.
Last month, the Reverend J. Herbert Nelson, a senior Presbyterian church official, marked Martin Luther King Day by equating Israel’s presence in the disputed territories with slavery and implying that American Jews had the influence necessary to get the US government to end the “occupation”. ”
But the most important of Goldberg’s dismal remarks was his statement that the Holocaust was about “man’s inhumanity to man.” For it reflects the mainstream culture of universalism and its distaste for emphasizing particularities of a culture on the basis that such distinctions are inherently harmful and racist.
In accordance with this doctrine, the teaching of the Holocaust itself has been relativized. Programs and memorials designed to educate people about this civilizational cataclysm claim it targeted many others alongside Jews.
What the Holocaust teaches us, these documents say, is the danger of treating people as different, of “altering”, of hating – and that everyone is capable of all of these things.
But that misses the point by a mile. The Holocaust was unique in the way it isolated the Jewish people alone for global annihilation. This is why the treatment of the Jews was different from the indisputable persecution of the Nazis against other groups. Only the Jews were to be wiped off the face of the earth.
But Universalism will not admit this because of its deep reluctance to acknowledge that Jews are unique in any way.
Many Diaspora Jews subscribe to universalist thinking. They also believe that their safety depends on not claiming a single record of suffering in order to avoid causing even more resentment of their supposed specialness.
As a result, Jews have been at the forefront of relativizing and therefore diminishing the Holocaust. Seeking to conform to the “anti-racist” orthodoxy, they assert that anti-Semitism is one of many types of racism.
But anti-Semitism is not racism. The Nazis tied anti-Semitism to race on false scientific grounds drawn from social Darwinism, eugenics, and pagan mythology.
In fact, they were merely channeling malignant attitudes toward Jews that have existed since ancient times in many different genres, including theology, Marxist socio-economic theory, and today’s anti-Zionism.
In National Affairs, Ruth Wisse, former professor of Yiddish and comparative literature at Harvard, has traced the dark side of Holocaust education. The main problem, she writes, was teaching that the Holocaust applied equally to Jews and other groups targeted by the Nazis, such as Roma, the disabled, Slavs, Communists, Witnesses of Jehovah, homosexuals and others.
Although these groups were certainly targeted by the Nazis, the categories are not compatible. Nazi anti-Semitism was “an ideology, movement, and strategy that explicitly organized policy against the Jews.”
As a result of this fundamental conceptual error, she writes, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, for example, “depoliticized, dehistoricized, and universalized a political and historical process to prevent the teaching of anti-Semitism or war against Jews. “.
And as she notes, teaching hate to prevent hate only results in the willingness to direct blame and hate at “designated alien or undesirable groups.”
The result is the current epidemic of anti-Semitism. Attacks on Jews in the West have reached record levels and far exceed attacks on any other group.
In the New York area, there have been a series of anti-Semitic attacks. On a Brooklyn street last month, two Jewish men, one of whom was wearing an IDF sweatshirt, were called filthy Jews and punched in the face. Last weekend, a truck driver shouted at Jews in Brooklyn, “Go back to your fucking country, let Hitler kill you.”
In the ultra-Orthodox London neighborhood of Stamford Hill, there have recently been repeated attacks on Jews on the streets. And a disproportionate number of all of these attacks are committed by people who are not white.
The mess Whoopi Goldberg created is the result of a culture that now wants to undo it with proof of its own guilt.
Melanie Phillips, British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for ‘The Times of London’, her personal and political memoir, ‘Guardian Angel’, has been published by Bombardier, which has also published her first novel, ‘The Legacy’. Go to melaniephillips.substack.com to access his work.