Whoopi Goldberg took a conversation on Monday's The View about a Tennessee school board banning the Holocaust graphic novel Maus and turned it into a daylong controversy about Judaism, race, and whether Nazis were racist or just evil. "If you're going to do this, then let's be truthful about it," she said. "Because the Holocaust isn't about race," but rather "about man's inhumanity to other man."
Goldberg's co-hosts on The View pointed out that Adolf Hitler and the Nazis explicitly viewed Jewish people as a distinct race they tried to exterminate. "But these are two white groups of people," she said. "You're missing the point. The minute you turn it into race, it goes down this alley. Let's talk about it for what it is. It's how people treat each other." Her comments drew a lot of blowback, and Goldberg had her first chance to respond on Stephen Colbert's The Late Show.
Goldberg told Colbert she did not mean to make people so angry. "As a Black person, I think of race as being something that I can see. So I see you, and I know what race you are," she told Colbert. "But people were very angry, and they said, 'No, no, we are a race.' And I understand, I understand. I felt differently, I respect everything that everyone is saying to me, and, you know, I don't want to fake-apologize."
Colbert suggested that while Americans think about race as based on skin color, the Nazis used different criteria. But that's the thing, Goldberg said. "The Nazis lied. It wasn't. They had issues with ethnicity, not with race, because most of the Nazis were white people, and most of the people they were attacking were white people." She added that "you can't tell who's Jewish, you don't know. It's not something that people say, 'Oh, that person is Jewish,' or 'this person is Jewish.' And so that's what I was trying to explain."
Goldberg added that she "did a lot of harm, I guess, to myself," and asked people to stop writing her angry responses. "I know how you feel," Goldberg said. "I get it, and I'm going to take your word for it and never bring it up again."
On Monday night, Goldberg issued a full apology, saying the Holocaust was about both race and man's inhumanity to man.