Letters to the Editor: Suspending Whoopi Goldberg blew a teachable moment on antisemitism
To the editor: Rather than suspend Whoopi Goldberg for her comments regarding the Holocaust on “The View,” ABC should do more to explain Nazi ideology and also explore the threats Jews face today. The 1935 Nuremberg Laws codified Nazi racial theories that asserted Germans and some other Europeans had superior traits. Bloodlines determined race. (“Whoopi Goldberg got it all wrong on the Holocaust. But if she can learn, we all can,” Opinion, Feb. 2)
Goldberg identified a glaring defect in Holocaust education. Anne Frank’s diary — as good as it is — protects readers from facing the horrors of the Holocaust. Adults should know more. “The View” could help.
On Stephen Colbert’s show, Goldberg said that if she stood on a street with a Jewish friend, the Ku Klux Klan wouldn’t know her friend was Jewish. Yet white supremacists manage to attack Jews — from the lynching of Leo Frank in 1915 to the murder of 11 people in Pittsburgh in 2018.
Threats to Jews standing on streets are coming from elsewhere these days. If Goldberg stood with a Jewish friend who lived in one of several Brooklyn neighborhoods, the friend would more likely be the target of assaults that have been occurring with alarming frequency.
A sorely needed discussion of this phenomenon would be most welcome.
Lynn Koss, Fayetteville, N.Y.
To the editor: When I first became aware of the hubbub surrounding Goldberg’s comments on “The View,” I thought she must have tried to deny or diminish the gravity of the Holocaust.
When I watched the offending segment, what I heard was Goldberg sharing a perspective of the Holocaust and racism from the view of a Blackwoman. She by no means trivialized those horrific events or suggested that the victims suffered less because they weren’t victims of racism as she understands it.
I found her comments and perspective to be sensitive, thoughtful and enlightening. Moreover, I find her unpaid suspension from “The View” by her corporate bosses to be paternalistic pandering to sanctimonious popular opinion.
Perhaps ABC should change the title of Goldberg’s show to “The View from the Boardroom.”
Andrew Shore, Westlake Village
To the editor: What Goldberg got wrong was not whether race was a singular factor in the Holocaust. What she got most wrong was failing to mention that the Holocaust was about Nazis killing Jews.
Why? Because they were Jews. From the Jewish perspective, the Holocaust was not about race. It was about Jews and the world’s oldest hatred.
What Karin Klein, the author of the editorial, got wrong was failing to use active and brutal language to describe the Holocaust. She references “the Jewish people, an estimated 6 million of whom died under Nazi rule.” It is this very passive voice that is used by those rejecting claims that an intentional genocide took place.
To this day, Turkish leaders wipe away the Armenian genocide by claiming that the Armenians died as a result of the chaos of World War I, rather than that they were murdered in a genocide.
Six million Jews did not merely “die under Nazi rule.” They were rounded up and shot in ravines, starved to death in ghettos, murdered in gas chambers, their bodies turned to ash in crematoria, all because they were Jewish. We must name things as they are so the worst does not recur.
Rabbi Adam Kligfeld, Los Angeles
To the editor: Klein writes, “Certainly, most (but not all) Jewish people are white and thus aren’t targeted for the color of their skin.” That statement is correct for the United States but not for Israel.
The majority of Jews in Israel are Mizrahi Jews, refugees from Arab and Muslim-majority countries or descendants of the 850,000 Jews who were ethnically cleansed from homes that they had lived in for generations beginning in 1945. Mizrahi Jews are not considered white.
Since Israel has one of the largest Jewish populations in the world, the editorial should have qualified its generalization about white Jews to the United States.
Richard Sherman, Margate, Fla.
To the editor: Far from being ignorant, Goldberg was describing the bigger picture.
As Klein described, Hitler killed many others in addition to Jews. Just because Hitler declared Jews a race does not make it true.
Modern humanity can be traced back to the so-called cradle of civilization. That is also where the oldest religion believing in only one God, Judaism, began. Every human alive has some connection to that area.
Jews traveled all over the world and come in all colors and sizes. Most Jews do not consider themselves a race. Orthodox Jews consider anyone with a Jewish mother to be Jewish. Atheist Jews are proud of being part of a 6,000-year-old heritage. Hitler didn’t care about these differences.
Marcy Bregman, Agoura Hills
To the editor: Racism is not limited to race. While Jews are not a separate race, 6 million Jews were murdered because the Nazis considered them to be of an inferior race.
Thus, the Holocaust was a profound and virulent expression of racism.
That Goldberg did not make the distinction between race and racism is neither antisemitism not does it evince ill intent. Discussion, not undeserved public shaming, is the appropriate response.
Ira Reiner, Los Angeles