Whoopi Goldberg denies 'doubling down' on Holocaust remarks after drawing criticism from ADL

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Whoopi Goldberg is speaking out after the Anti-Defamation League criticized her for comments in which she seemed to question whether the Holocaust, which involved the murder of 6 million Jews and others, was racially motivated.

In a statement obtained by USA TODAY Tuesday, Goldberg said her remarks were taken out of context and were a response to comments she made about the Holocaust earlier this year. In a January episode of "The View," Goldberg drew criticism for saying the Holocaust was not "about race."

"Recently while doing press in London, I was asked about my comments from earlier this year," Goldberg said in her Tuesday statement. "I tried to convey to the reporter what I had said and why, and attempted to recount that time. It was never my intention to appear as if I was doubling down on hurtful comments, especially after talking with and hearing people like rabbis and old and new friends weighing in."

Goldberg also noted her support for Jewish people "has not wavered and never will."

"I’m still learning a lot and believe me, I heard everything everyone said to me," she said. "I believe that the Holocaust was about race, and I am still as sorry now as I was then that I upset, hurt and angered people. My sincere apologies again, especially to everyone who thought this was a fresh rehash of the subject. I promise it was not."

The Anti-Defamation League called Goldberg's recent comments to The Sunday Times of London "deeply offensive."

In an interview with the British newspaper, shared during Hanukkah, Goldberg suggested Jews are divided on whether they are a race, religion or both. "My best friend said, ‘Not for nothing is there no box on the census for the Jewish race. So that leads me to believe that we’re probably not a race,’ " she recalled.

Whoopi Goldberg said the Holocaust wasn't initially about race.
Whoopi Goldberg said the Holocaust wasn't initially about race.

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told USA TODAY in a statement Tuesday that Goldberg's comments "are deeply offensive and incredibly disappointing, especially given that this is not the first time she had made remarks like this. In a moment when antisemitic incidents have surged across the US, she should realize that making such ignorant statements can have real consequences."

He added: "Whoopi needs to apologize to the Jewish community immediately and actually commit to educating herself on the true nature of antisemitism and how it was the driving force behind the systemic slaughter of millions. She shouldn't do it for the ratings – she should do it simply because it's the right thing to do. Failure to address the issue would raise serious questions about her sincerity and solidarity with her Jewish viewers and all those who experience hate."

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When The Times journalist Janice Turner mentioned racially divisive laws set by Nazis aimed at Jews, "The View" cohost insisted that the Holocaust "wasn't originally" about "racial" or "physical" attributes.

"They were killing people they considered to be mentally defective. And then they made this decision," she said.

Turner continued to push back, telling Goldberg, "Nazis saw Jews as a race."

"Yes, but that’s the killer, isn’t it? The oppressor is telling you what you are. Why are you believing them? They’re Nazis. Why believe what they’re saying?" the "Till" actress responded.

Goldberg added, "It doesn’t change the fact that you could not tell a Jew on a street. You could find me. You couldn’t find them."

The actress was previously suspended from "The View" in January for similar remarks. Addressing those comments, she said, "That was the point I was making. But you would have thought that I’d taken a big old stinky dump on the table, butt naked."

USA TODAY has reached out to representatives of "The View" for comment.

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Whoopi Goldberg was previously suspended from 'The View' over her remarks about the Holocaust

Goldberg's new comments echo remarks she made about the Holocaust on "The View," which led to a suspension.

ABC News president Kim Godwin said that Goldberg would be suspended from "The View" for two weeks effective immediately for "her wrong and hurtful comments," in a statement shared with USA TODAY on Feb. 2.

“While Whoopi has apologized, I’ve asked her to take time to reflect and learn about the impact of her comments," Godwin added. "The entire ABC News organization stands in solidarity with our Jewish colleagues, friends, family and communities."

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Goldberg posted a now-deleted statement expressing her "sincerest apologies" on Twitter on Jan. 31, after the episode aired, also echoing a statement from Greenblatt who wrote that the Holocaust "was about the Nazi’s systematic annihilation of the Jewish people – who they deemed to be an inferior race."

"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. "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."

On the show the following day, she addressed the controversy again, saying she "misspoke."

“My words upset so many people, which was never my intention,” she said. “I understand why now, and for that I am deeply, deeply grateful, because the information I got was really helpful and helped me understand some different things.”

Whoopi Goldberg previously was suspended from "The View" over remarks made about the Holocaust.
Whoopi Goldberg previously was suspended from "The View" over remarks made about the Holocaust.

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What did Whoopi Goldberg say about the Holocaust?

Goldberg made her initial comments during a discussion about a Tennessee school board banning the book "Maus" from the eighth-grade English and language arts curriculum.

The graphic novel, written by comic artist Art Spiegelman, tells the story of his Jewish parents living in 1940s Poland and follows them through their internment in Auschwitz. Nazis are portrayed as cats, while Jewish people are shown as mice.

"If you're going to do this, then let's be truthful about it, because the Holocaust isn't about race," Goldberg said at the time. "It's about man's inhumanity to man. That's what it's about."

Co-host Joy Behar chimed in, saying, "Well, they considered Jews a different race," in reference to the Nazis. Anna Navarro also pushed back, saying, "But it's about white supremacy."

Goldberg doubled down.

"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. It's a problem. It doesn't matter if you're Black or white, 'cause Black, white, Jews ... everybody eats each other."

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ADL's CEO previously discussed the damage of Whoopi Goldberg's comments on 'The View'

The day after Goldberg made her comments about the Holocaust, “The View” brought on Greenblatt, who is also author of “It Could Happen Here,” to discuss why her words had been hurtful.

He added that the show should consider hiring a Jewish co-host as they were looking to fill Meghan McCain's spot since her departure last year. Former Trump White House communications director Alyssa Farah Griffin ended up as her replacement.

"As we explained to Whoopi back in January, the Nazi regime was inherently racist: from the notion of Germans as an 'Aryan race' to the anti-Jewish 'race laws,' to the subjugation of Jews and other minorities, the hateful ideology of the Third Reich was all about pseudo-scientific theories of race," Greenblatt said Tuesday.

He continued: "Germans considered themselves the 'master race' and claimed all other non-Aryans were inferior. This is a trope we still hear echoed by white supremacists in the U.S. today."

Contributing: Charles Trepany, USA TODAY, and The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Whoopi Goldberg responds to backlash over new Holocaust comments