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Why I Don’t Agree With ABC Suspending Whoopi Goldberg

Before you assume that I’m condoning her statement that the Holocaust was not about race, hear me out. Whoopi was definitely wrong in her statement that the Nazi genocide was about two groups of white people, and that comment was potentially harmful, especially as research shows that many Americans are misinformed about the Holocaust, with only 62% knowing that the Holocaust was about the extermination of the Jews.

And it’s not without consequences, because if you don’t know what happened or how it happened than how can you make sure that ‘never again’ is more than just wishful thinking? We are seeing the consequences of the ignorance played out in the rise in anti-Semitism, and perhaps more worrying, the stunning silence when there are anti-Semitic attacks or incidents.

So why don’t I agree with ABC’s suspension? Isn’t it great that they took action? Yes it is undoubtly good that they took action, however I wonder if there could have been a better reaction.

As humans we all make mistakes, albeit some are worse than others. When that happens, the question we grapple with is what next? How do we move forward when we have made a mistake and how do we react to others who have done wrong? There seems to be two approaches, a punitive one and a rehabilitative one.

A punitive approach says that the person did wrong and they should suffer in some way for what they did. A rehabilitative approach focuses on the person learning to do better. Judaism gives a very clear path to learn from our failures and mistakes. It’s the 4 step teshuva, ‘return’ process whose focus is very much on learning from the failure to do better in the future.

The first 3 steps of the teshuva processes consists of a person stopping the harmful thing they were doing, feeling regret for the action and making a commitment to behave differently in the future. Let’s take a look at Whoopi’s behaviour since the statement. She has made a public apology, so we know that she has stopped making damaging statements about the Holocaust. We can also assume that she has regret for what she said – and hopefully not just for the consequences she suffered as a result of what she said.

However, the next step is crucial, because ultimately it’s not enough to stop and feel bad if a person isn’t going to make a sincere effort to do differently in the future. And this is where I feel that ABC or Whoopi Goldberg could have done better. Whoopi’s statement isn’t an isolated incident, it is indicative of the widespread misinformation of the Holocaust in America. Research has shown that those with more knowledge of the Holocaust have warmer feelings towards Jews. With rising anti-Semitism, Holocaust education is so important to try and stem that tide.

Perhaps instead of, or as well as suspending Whoopi, ABC could have used this incident as an opportunity, as a springboard to increase Holocaust education in America. Whoopi was given an arbitrary 2 weeks to reflect. There is no process to show that she will have to do the third step, the crucial step of committing to doing better in the future. Perhaps instead of an arbitrary 2 weeks, Whoopi could have been issued a challenge to create positive change. She could have been asked to create or air some programming that would go towards giving Americans correct information about the Holocaust, information that would increase feelings of goodwill between Jews and non-Jews and would hopefully begin to combat anti-Semitism. Now that would have been a positive reaction.

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  • Avatar photo Francine Pecoraro says on February 3, 2022

    Great idea! Maybe it’s not too late to implement,

    Reply
  • Avatar photo Akedah Eze says on February 9, 2022

    Whoopi Goldberg’s response as a Black woman reluctant to co-sign a Hitlerian approach as the “reasoning” behind the Shoah is in every way in line with OUR view as Jews … and should be commended. The Holocaust was not “about race” as HITLER yemach shemo taught , but about the inhumanity of man as Elie Weisel (OBM) has stated so many times before. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO SUCH THING AS A RACIAL JEWISH IDENTITY, and when we pretend that the converse is true we sound JUST like those madmen who sought to destroy European Jews in the first place.

    While RACE is a social construct, Jews are a religious group comprised of multiple ethnicities. We are German, Polish, Moroccan, Japanese. Brazilian, Nigerian, Persian , Yemenite, Ethiopian, Russian, and a plethora of other ethnicities. Maybe if we stopped centering on some and were more open to hearing the perspectives of “others” … ignoring none…there would be far less confusion. Maybe we should listen more and castigate less. THAT is the Torah way. We have become dissonant in our approach to others and as such often fail miserably at acknowledging the WHOLE truth , especially when its far more convenient to embrace a single narrative. While we are often taught differently, Hitler did not “just” target Jews. He targeted homosexuals, Africans, Black Americans, the mentally ill, disabled and ANYONE ELSE who wasn’t “pure” , Aryan’ .and fit ..by HIS estimation. ..even German born Jews. What a disservice we do ourselves and “others” when we fail to acknowledge that while Hitler was executing Jews in Germany, Mussollini , his partner in crime, was doing the same and worse in Northern Africa. Germans had already begun a program of ethnic cleansing in parts of Africa long before the Shoah, and had already built concentration/death camps in other parts of the world BEFORE 1940.. Sharks Island existed long before Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen and both were built to exterminate HUMAN BEINGS OF A VARIETY OF BACKGROUNDS… not just European Jews.

    Acknowledging the INHUMANITY of the German people and those who remained silent is certainly the first step in addressing the racism, bigotry, Anti-semitism and islamophobia we STILL see today. The Shoah was in every way about inhumanity , evidenced by the number of random groups targeted by Hitler’s regime. While we may choose to center in this moment on his treatment of European Jews .. Whoopi did NOT… and that was HER choice. SHE chose to see the BIGGER picture and for that she was vilified. What a bizayon that WE as Jews could not appreciate an attempt to see something bigger than ourselves . Praying that as a Klal we can one day embrace nuance, difference and perspective in a meaningful way that draws ALL people closer . Co-signing a madman’s view of Jewish identity at a time like this is NOT the way to go.

    Reply
    • Avatar photo Julie says on February 9, 2022

      The Holocaust is not about Hitler targeting “OTHER groups too.” Six million Jews were murdered. Period.

      Reply
  • Avatar photo Shayndel Malya Reich says on February 9, 2022

    Well said! It is unfortunately reflective of today’s cancel culture to simply give someone the axe. Taking the time to carefully think how to implement positive change would be so much more constructive for everyone.

    Reply
    • Avatar photo Elliot Hass says on February 10, 2022

      IF they could do it to Roseanne Barr for a much lesser issue. They should do it to that filthly woman Whoopi Goldberg. However, as Roseanne was permanently removed and replaced, that should be what happens to Whoopi, unless they want to apologize to Roseanne Barr.

      Reply
  • Avatar photo David Lazman says on February 9, 2022

    Agree wholeheartedly! Keep things moving in a positive direction – always the better option.

    Reply
  • Avatar photo Hesckal Goldberger says on February 9, 2022

    I actually believe that there shouldn’t be any punishment for 1 voicing their views however in the “cancel culture” generation that we live in for the sake of consistency with what has been done when 1 makes objectionable or hurtful statements regarding any other minority – mistaken or not Whoopie Goldberg should have been fired. I believe this to especially be the case since Whoopie herself is from the foremost proponents of being quick to cancel or try to get others fired when they said things that were objectionable in her eyes towards any other minority group.

    Reply
  • Avatar photo Rashi Rosenzweig says on February 10, 2022

    Hi. I agree, but only to a point. (from your friendly, neighborhood ELAL sales agent )

    Roseanne Barr’s faux pas not only got her fired but basically ended her career. Actors who owed their fame to her tossed her under the bus and basically dragged her name in the mud. Was she wrong? Of course, she was. But she did sincerely apologize and agreed that she had a dumb…moment. I mean..who doesn’t have those moments from time to time?

    Whoopi, whether she meant to or not, belittled the Holocaust which is the Achilles Heel to ALL Jews, no matter what background we come from, by stating that it was a white man against a white man and that it wasn’t about race, but man’s inhumanity to other men. Oh..and please, don’t get me started with her stage name – Goldberg. It is used for shock value and poking fun at. Why it has taken people over 40 years to realize this is beyond me. Dropping her last name would be a nice start.

    So, indeed she does need to be educated and the Chairman of Yad Vashem actually invited her to come to Israel and learn firsthand about the racist laws that were put in place to make Jews miserable. Has she accepted? I don’t think she has – yet. This also has to be a strong message – the Holocaust was not only horror, but to us Jews, it is sacred and it is something that has to be treated with kid’s gloves. Whoopi is a strong supporter of the PC culture. She needs to realize that it applies to us too.

    Reply

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