The Holocaust is a 77-year-old story. Yet Whoopi Goldberg got in trouble last week for getting a major aspect of it wrong.
On Jan. 31's edition of "The View," Goldberg said that the Holocaust was not about race.
The context was a discussion about the book "Maus" being banned by a Tennessee public school board because of nudity and profanity. Goldberg said: "I'm surprised that's what made you uncomfortable, the fact that there was some nudity. I mean, it's about the Holocaust, the killing of 6 million people, but that didn't bother you? If you're going to do this, then let's be truthful about it. Because the Holocaust isn't about race. No, it's not about race."
She has been suspended from the show for two weeks.
Hours after the program, she tweeted an apology to those offended by her remarks: "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. 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." Greenblatt accepted her apology.
I asked Rabbi Daniel Lapin, president of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, for a statement on this story. He told me that he disagrees with her often, but does not agree with the suspension: "Stuffing a gag into people's mouths and trying to harm their careers doesn't win the argument. It actually prolongs it by breeding anger and resentment."
He added, "By the time the left has silenced the right and the other way around, and by the time secular and religious have silenced one another and by the time blacks and whites have silenced one another, we'll all be living in a dull, silent, monotonous and resentful world."
Interestingly, the very next day after this broadcast of "The View" came the release of a book, "Darwinian Racism: How Darwinism Influenced Hitler, Nazism, and White Nationalism." This is the latest book by Dr. Richard Weikart, author of "From Darwin to Hitler." Weikart is professor emeritus of history at California State University, Stanislaus and a senior fellow with the Discovery Institute.
I've been following Dr. Weikart's research for years. In 2006, I traveled to his college to interview him for our television production on the impact of Darwin on devaluing human life, "Darwin's Deadly Legacy," for D. James Kennedy Ministries.
I asked Weikart if there was a link between Darwinism and what Adolf Hitler and the Nazis did. He told our viewers, "Among German historians, there's really not much debate about whether or not Hitler was a social Darwinist; he clearly was drawing on Darwinian ideas."
Weikart added that Darwin wasn't anti-Semitic, but his ideas were used by the anti-Semites to do away with those viewed as subhuman.
Recently, Weikart wrote an op-ed initially called "Whoopi Goldberg, the Holocaust, and Race" to address her "misguided comment … that the Nazi Holocaust was not about race."
Weikart notes that Jews historically were viewed as a religious group in Germany, but with the widespread acceptance of Darwinism came the acceptance of "biological determinism." He writes, "Biological determinism taught that human traits, including behavioral traits, were determined by one's heredity, not by one's education and upbringing. When applied to Jews, this meant that the common stereotypes of Jews – that they are greedy, deceitful, sexual immoral, etc. – were allegedly biologically ingrained traits." By the time of Hitler's Third Reich, this view was widespread, and Jews were viewed more in racial terms than in religious terms.
So indeed the Holocaust was about race. It was all about achieving the so-called "master race" and eliminating those viewed as subhuman. The Jews were the largest group killed. Said Weikart, "For them, the killing of Jews was all about race." The Nazis also killed Gypsies and Slavs for racist reasons.
Weikart said that the Nazis were putting into practice genetic selection in the concentration camps – deciding who would live and who would die: "Natural selection was a guiding idea for Hitler and the Nazis … and the term was related directly to Darwinian terminology. … They were selecting this person to survive and this person to go to the gas chambers."
On a recent radio segment, Weikart told me, "Hitler saw this life as a struggle for existence among many races opposing his so-called Aryan (or sometimes he'd use the term Nordic) race, and he framed it as a Darwinian struggle for existence."
So what was the Holocaust all about? Said Weikart, "Adolf Hitler was clearly trying to speed evolution along." Hitler believed that the evolutionary survival of his "master race" required the extermination of Jews.
Darwinian evolution is the missing link in Whoopi Goldberg's verbal mistake last week.
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