Whoopi Goldberg claimed the Holocaust was 'not about race' and fans are not happy

Whoopi Goldberg sparked outrage while discussing a Tennessee ban on the graphic novel Maus

Whoopi Goldberg
(Image credit: Lou Rocco / Contributor)

While discussing a Tennessee school district's decision to ban Maus, a graphic novel dissecting the horrors that occurred during the Holocaust, Whoopi Goldberg repeatedly asserted that the horrific event was "not about race."

Whoopi, who recently discussed being "out of work for five years" following an allegedly inappropriate joke she uttered about President George W. Bush back in 2004, made the comments while participating in a roundtable discussion with the show’s co-hosts, specifically talking about the censorship by the Board of Education in McMinn County, Tennessee. 

The board removed the book from its eighth-grade English language arts curriculum because of the drawing of a woman in the nude and the presence of "rough, objectionable language."

Whoopi stated her surprise at the fact that the novel's nudity is what supposedly catalyzed the board's actions, and not the Holocaust itself. Co-host Joy Behar immediately replied that the stated concerns felt like "a canard to throw you off from the fact that they don't like history that makes white people look bad." Whoopi then replied, referring to the Holocaust, "Well, this is white people doing it to white people, so ya'll gonna fight amongst yourselves."

The View

(Image credit: Lou Rocco / Contributor)

None of Whoopi's co-hosts—Joy, Sarah Haines, Sunny Hostin or Ana Navarro—bothered reacting to her comments, instead discussing the topic more generally. Whoopi, though, continued by saying, "if you're going to do this, then let's be truthful about it because the Holocaust isn't about race [but about] man's inhumanity to man."

Given the factual inaccuracy of her claims, it's no surprise that the moderator’s comments were met with major backlash as folks took to social media to announce their disgust, also stating that her comments function as a clear demonstration of the sort of insidious anti-Semitism that is downplayed all around the world.

One said, "Yes @whoopigoldberg it is about race" while others chimed, "What Whoopi Goldberg said about the Holocaust is a tangible example of the result of universalizing Jewish oppression and identity."

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Later on in the day, Whoopi took to Twitter herself to apologize for her error. 

"On today's show, I said the Holocaust 'is not about race, but about man's inhumanity to man.' I should have said it is about both," she wrote. "As Jonathan Greenblatt from the Anti-Defamation League shared, 'The Holocaust was about the Nazi's systematic annihilation of the Jewish people—who they deemed to be an inferior race.' I stand corrected. The Jewish people around the world have always had my support and that will never waiver. I'm sorry for the hurt I have caused."

Anna Rahmanan is a New York-based writer and editor who covers news, entertainment, lifestyle, culture, food, travel and more. Read more of her work at annabenyehuda.com.