Tim Wise on Whoopi Goldberg’s Suspension from “The View” (Copied from Facebook)

Open in app

Whoopi Goldberg’s Suspension is Ridiculous

Her comment wasn’t anti-Semitic — meanwhile, Ron DeSantis is out here refusing to condemn Nazis in his own state

Tim Wise3 hours ago·6 min read

Image: Ron Adar, Shutterstock, Standard License, purchased by author

As a Jew, I know full well how incorrect Whoopi Goldberg’s recent comments about the Holocaust were — that it “wasn’t about race,” but merely a matter of man’s inhumanity to man, involving white people killing white people.

To the Nazis, Jews were a distinct race of evildoers — a biological pollutant — rather than white, despite our recent European ancestry. In that sense, she was flatly wrong. It was about race to the people who perpetrated it. The fact that their notions of race were pseudo-scientific garbage doesn’t change that.

But as a person with common sense, I also know that suspending her from The View for two weeks because of those comments, as ABC did, is performative bullshit, for which there is no justification.

In a week when Florida’s Governor and the heir apparent to the MAGA throne refused to condemn present-day Nazis in his state who hung swastika banners in Orlando, Goldberg’s comments — a naive assessment of Hitlerian race theory nine decades ago — are pretty trivial by comparison.

Frankly, I’m more concerned about how American politicians deal with American Nazis in contemporary America than I am about how a celebrity does or doesn’t comprehend the way that German Nazis in 1930s Germany defined European Jews.

Ron DeSantis is a guy who might be the GOP nominee for President in a few years. Whoopi Goldberg will not be his opponent.

And yet DeSantis, when faced with Nazis in his state, has a spokesperson who questioned whether they were even “real Nazis.” For the Governor himself, the Nazis were not evil or even worth calling out as racists. They were just “jackasses.”

Imagine if Whoopi had called the Holocaust merely the work of “jackasses.”

So, to review, Goldberg said the Holocaust wasn’t about race — a historically incorrect comment — even as she clearly articulated her personal revulsion at the actions of Nazis.

DeSantis can’t even admit that modern Nazis are racists — a word he still hasn’t used to describe them (perhaps because he’s afraid doing so would cause his base to accuse him of pushing Critical Race Theory).

Sorry, but clutching pearls over Goldberg while stomaching DeSantis is inexcusable. One was naive. The other is self-serving. And yet the naive one is the one who gets put in time out.

Understanding what Goldberg said and why

When it comes to Goldberg’s comments, one can be forgiven for not knowing the particulars of Hitlerian race theory. This is especially so in a society where race has functioned mainly as a white aggregator, in which all persons of European descent are placed under one umbrella, distinguished from America’s Untermenschen — Black folks.

That is how race and whiteness have functioned here: to demarcate who isnt Black, as much as anything, and who will never be treated as badly as Black (and perhaps Indigenous) folks, even if they catch ethnic or religious hell.

I’m more concerned with how American politicians deal with American Nazis in contemporary America than I am about how a celebrity does or doesn’t comprehend the way that German Nazis in 1930s Germany defined and viewed European Jews

As Isabel Wilkerson documents in her book Caste, the lines of whiteness and non-whiteness were far more concrete here than even in Nazi Germany.

When the Nazis were creating the Reich’s racial hygiene laws, they concluded that American race rules were too draconian. The idea of “one drop” or even one-eighth of “Black blood” disqualifying a person from whiteness and making a person Black seemed too restrictive to them.

And so, ultimately, their rules for marking a person as a Jew and excluding them from German citizenship — though rooted in a ridiculous notion of race science — were more forgiving than that.

It was far easier to exclude someone from whiteness in Mississippi than in Berlin.

As such, to Black folks in America, it makes sense that they might look at what the Nazis did to Jews and see “white people killing white people” because in this country, as long as those Jews didn’t have any discernible “blackness” in them, they would qualify for the white club.

None of that makes Goldberg right, but her take on this isn’t for nothing or entirely out of left field. It is the fault of superimposing an American understanding of race and whiteness onto a German template, where it simply doesn’t fit.

But nothing she said minimized the horrors of the Shoah, denied the evil of its perpetrators, or erased the reality of anti-Semitism.

Yes, Goldberg failed to appreciate how anti-Semitism, to Nazis, functions as a racial hatred (as opposed to more ancient versions based on religion and cultural prejudice). But she does not dispute its awfulness or its impact.

Can we talk honestly about “Jewish whiteness?”

But now that we’re on this subject — about whether Jews from Europe are white or not and how we should understand Jewishness in relation to the notion of race — can we perhaps have an honest conversation?

Because frankly, we in the Jewish community have contributed to some of this confusion too.

What do I mean?

Well, consider that precisely because of the Holocaust and the Nazis’ attempt to racialize us, Jews have spent decades trying to make clear we are not a race.

I grew up hearing this constantly: we are not a separate race, and we insisted upon this to make clear that Nazi race theory was wrong.

But in response to Goldberg’s comments in which she classified European Jews as just another group of white people, it’s as if some are now offended that we might not be seen as a separate race. It’s almost like we’re saying, how dare Whoopi Goldberg call us white and deny our racial distinctiveness!


If anything, Goldberg’s comment was partly in keeping with the position the Jewish community had insisted upon for generations, however clumsily she delivered it. Under that view, we are just a different religious and ethnic group.

And yes, in the U.S., that desire to not be seen as racially different did mean matriculation into the club of whiteness, however much our ancestors in Europe wouldn’t have even understood that concept before coming here.

In that regard, Goldberg wasn’t trying to erase our distinctiveness or our history. She was voicing the reality of how whiteness has operated here and how Jewishness has increasingly dovetailed with it, however much it diverged from it in Europe during the Third Reich.

Yes, Jewish whiteness is complicated — it’s also a real thing, for most

Of course, it’s essential to acknowledge the different ways in which whiteness has functioned for Jews in America and how our Jewishness has often complicated our whiteness. And yes, some in the anti-racism community and movement haven’t done a very good job addressing that nuance.

But it is also true that we as Jews of European descent have largely been able to matriculate into the white club and gain access to various privileges and opportunities regularly denied to Black people. We are not in the same boat as Black folks in this country, and we never were.

From the time my great-grandfather stepped off the boat in New York in the early 20th century, he could get jobs that were already off-limits to Black people there. That’s a fact. It doesn’t diminish the anti-Semitism we have faced here — and that he faced, in fact — but it does suggest that we have been able to whiten, however difficult that proved for us in Hitler’s Germany.

With the exception of Hasidic and other ultra-Orthodox communities, whose cultural distinctiveness often marks them for particularly vicious attacks, most American Jews of European descent, for good or bad, have become pretty well assimilated and functionally white.

Yes, that membership card can be, and often is, contested. It is increasingly being challenged now — by Nazis like the ones in Florida. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t real and operative.

And if we as Jews want to deny our functional whiteness, as I sense some do, to duck the issue of the privileges we receive from it (even as we face anti-Jewish bias), so be it.

But understand: the cost of that denial is being seen as a distinct race after all.

And that has never worked out very well for us.

Whoopi Goldberg understands that now. I wonder if we do?

Response to the 2021 US Revolt

Like many American citizens, I was appalled to hear reports and see images of protesters storming the United States Capital on January 6, 2021.

I can only remember four times during my 72 years when I have felt as upset, fearful, angered, and assaulted as an American.

The first time I remember feeling all those emotions was on November 22, 1963 when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I still remember the feeling of disbelief and the dread and fear in the pit of my 15 year-old stomach. Did the Russians do it, I wondered. It had been drummed into us that Russia was our enemy. They were the biggest danger we had to face! That was a frightening time and we stayed glued to our TVs.

The second time I experienced all those feelings was April 4, 1968 when Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Were we Americans going to destroy each other (those Americans who loved Dr. King and those people who considered Dr. King an enemy of the people)? Riots broke out all over the country. Police and National Guard troops were dispatched to restore/maintain order. I was engulfed with pain, disbelief and dread. Where would we go from here? Who would bridge the gap between minorities and the white majority populations, between the haves and the have nots, between the anti-Vietnam War protesters and our government?

The third time I experienced all those emotions was on September 11, 2001 when four airplanes, hijacked by foreign extremists, attacked us on our soil. Two planes flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, one plane flew into the Pentagon outside Washington, DC and the fourth plane, thanks to heroic actions of some passengers, missed its mark and crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. I was at work in a state government building at the time. I was outraged —that anyone would dare come over here and attack us—and I was afraid. In my mind, the people in the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania, and, indeed, in buildings allover the United States were just like me—simply going about their business and working to feed their families. They were people who embraced various viewpoints, ideologies, and religions. People who prided themselves in being citizens of a country where differences were tolerated and change could be effected at the ballot box. Were the attacks going to continue? Were all government offices at risk?

January 7, 2021 was the fourth time in my 72 years that I have felt disbelief, dread, fear and anger, all at the same time, due to terrible events occurring in the United States of America. The United States was under attack by domestic extremists on that day.

Like parents of little leaguers who rush on to the field to beat up the umpires after their child’s team loses the ballgame, a mob of Trump supporters, angered that he lost the 2020 presidential election, rushed the United States Capital in an effort to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College Votes declaring President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris winners of the 2020 election.

Apparently, these extremists expected to be hailed as saviors. But, it just seems to me that they are, mostly, victims of one of the greatest con-men of our time. Trump has shown, time and time again, that he does not care about people. He seems to only care about being in the spotlight, blind loyalty, power, money —and, maybe his kids (though I am not sure he won’t throw them to the wolves to save himself.). As Maya Angelou said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.”

Now that Trump’s “protesters “ realize that the public is not proud of them, they are offering a strange defense of their actions. They seem to want to compare their breaching of the halls of Congress to the protests waged on behalf of George Floyd, Brianna Taylor, Tamir Rice, et al by Black Lives Matter protesters.

Since I cannot adequately explain the difference between the events of January 7, 2021 and the Black Lives Matter protests, I refer you to the words below of Gerald D. Givens, Jr., President, Raleigh-Apex NAACP, US Air Force, Retired :

“There is no equivocation between the protest in response to the killings of George Floyd, Freddie Gray and Breonna Taylor and so many others as to what these terrorists did in Washington DC. A demonstration is a statement of disapproval or opposition to something. A revolt is a violent rebellion against a government. There is a difference between a demonstration and a revolt. These are not the same.

Why should we have any sympathy for the CEOs, elected officials, law enforcement officers, veterans and everyday citizens who are losing their jobs and being arrested for the planning, attendance, and execution of a rebellion?

They rose up against the American government and captured the Capitol. The rebels shouted “Hang Mike Pence!” The Vice President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and President pro tempore of the Senate, basically the line of succession had to hide for hours in a secured location for their own safety to include the rest of Congress.

Eventually five people would come to die, in which one person was a US Capitol police officer believed to have succumbed to injuries due to being beaten with a fire extinguisher. Some insurgents urinated and defecated in the halls of Congress, not in the bathrooms, but in the halls of Congress. Historical artifacts and congressional offices have been vandalized. They hung Trump flags inside and outside the building and attempted to remove the American flag flying over the Capitol.

A true patriot stands up for our country from our enemies, both foreign and domestic. A patriot does not seek to overthrow a branch government for doing the affairs of the people.”



Luke 2:4-14King James Version

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Vote 2020: Lives Depend On It

I, like many of you, watched the final Trump/Biden presidential debate on Thursday night, October 22, 2020. It was anti-climactic for me, because I voted earlier in the day. Perhaps, I should say, it reassured me that my vote was necessary and was cast correctly.

I voted a straight democratic ticket for several major reasons. First, I support the woman, her partner and her doctor deciding what is right or necessary to their reproductive life, without interference from the government. I also voted Biden/Harris because I cannot excuse the cruelty and incompetence of an administration that separated children from their parents at the Southern Border (and, seems to have permanently lost the parents of over 540 children). I voted a democratic ticket because over 200,00 US residents have died of a virus that Trump did not warn us about, initially, and that he helped spread at his super spreader rallies.
I voted Biden/Harris because Trump’s administration is, even now, fighting in the courts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act —meaning that many more US residents will be without healthcare and will be unable to go to the doctor if they contract COVID19. Many will, then, likely die, and families will lose income vital to survival. I voted for Biden/Harris because I expect them to restore the rule of law. I voted for Biden/Harris because I expect them to listen to the voices of people calling for police accountability when a police officer violates his oath of office or, in any way, breaks the law. I voted for Biden/Harris because they are imperfect people who can admit their faults and, thereafter, change directions. I voted a straight democratic ticket because the Republicans currently in office have proven that they do not respect the separation of powers. I voted a straight democratic ticket because I want to give Biden/Harris a support system that will work to help them bring peace, unity and security to our country. I voted a straight democratic ticket because we need a unified government to undo some of the harm done by the Trump administration, with the willful cooperation of US representatives and senators who abdicated their roles of oversight. I voted a straight democratic ticket because Republicans, apparently, see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil beyond that done to the “unborn” (hypothetical person).

I voted Biden/Harris because my quality of life, indeed, my very life, as well as the lives of over 540 parent-less children on the Southern Border who are living and breathing, and the lives of an untold number of future COVID19 infected people, and the lives of servicemen who are making great sacrifices on our behalf (even though Putin has placed a bounty on their heads that Trump seems okay with), and Black Lives —which, indeed, matter—depended on my vote.

I implore everyone to vote because many lives depend on it.

George Floyd Cried Out

I thought I was handling the stresses brought about by the Coronavirus, the murder of George Floyd, the protest marches, and my memories of my past hurts and fears. Today, I tuned in to CNN’s show, “Coming Together: Standing up to Racism: A CNN/ Sesame Street Town Hall.” I listened to children ask questions about racism—what is it, why does it happen, how can you stop it, how should we treat each other, if I become a neurosurgeon, “can I operate on the brain’s of racists”and fix it—and questions from parents about how to talk to our children about racism and white privilege. I finally started crying.

Today, I have to admit that at 71 years old, I am still traumatized and in pain. Today, I am so sad that we are still being harmed by racism. Due to unequal access to healthcare throughout the years, Blacks are disproportionately affected by the Coronavirus. George Floyd, who tested positive for the Coronavirus, survived the illness; but he did not survive the economic impact of Coronavirus. He was laid off from his job as a club bouncer because all restaurants in Minnesota were shut down due to the virus. I doubt that the $1200 check generated by the CARES Act of 2020 did much to alleviate Mr. Floyd’s financial stresses.

Due to racism, Blacks are more likely to be treated harshly by police officers. George Floyd was murdered by police officers who responded to a merchant’s call complaining that a customer paid for items with a counterfeit $20 bill. Today, as I listened to the questions from the children on the CNN/Sesame Street program, I was overwhelmed by the vision of the police officer pressing down on George Floyd’s neck with his knee. George Floyd, as has often been the case for blacks in this country, was arrested, presumed guilty and executed on the spot. The children could not understand this. Neither could I. I could not stop crying.

I helped “integrate” a high school in 1965…I tried to educate white people in my work circle and social circles…I marched…I voted…I made phone calls for candidates…I gave my children the TALK…I tried to teach my children to live well in an unjust world…I tried to teach my children to love themselves and to know that they were created in the image of God. Yet, children called in today to the CNN/Sesame Street TownHall with questions about racism in the year 2020 in the United States. I could not stop crying.

As I listened to the children on the CNN/Sesame Street Town Hall, I thought back to the many years of struggle for survival of my ancestors, the struggle for equality, the struggle for success, the struggle for an education, the struggle to own one’s own body, the struggle to own one’s own children, the struggle to vote for those who pass and enforce laws that govern our lives, the struggle to be paid for the works of our hands, the struggle to patent and reap the financial rewards for our inventions, the struggle to fight for this country, the struggle for life, the struggle for liberty, the struggle to pursue happiness. I could not stop crying.

George Floyd cried out for his Mama. I am crying out for my ancestors. I am crying out for myself. I am crying out for my children. I am crying out for George Floyd.


#Selma50 seems to have finally taken its rightful place in history. 
A bipartisan group of politicians and public officials,  including President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama (Democrats), former President George Bush, former First Lady Laura Bush (Republicans), members of congress, Alabama Governor Bentley, and the late Governor George Wallace’s daughter, Peggy Wallace Kennedy   joined a mixed group of citizens to commemorate and honor the ordinary people who stepped up in an extraordinary manner to fight for full citizenship for African-Americans in the 1960s. 

Much like President Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address, President Barack Obama delivered a speech which will be referenced by future generations for its clarity and for providing a historical perspective of the events that took place on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965.     

While  honoring the Civil Rights fighters who were willing to give their lives in the battle for their right to vote, and the right of self-determination for future generations; President Obama noted that Americans of all races, religions and nationalities were moved to join the battle in Selma fifty years ago. The President, also, noted the universal appeal of the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. And, like Lincoln, President Obama ended his speech with a call for unity- referring to actions that “we” must take in the future. 

Yet, in the shadow of Ferguson, it remains to be seen if this president will be as successful as Lincoln in holding this wounded nation together.  
Click here: President Obama’s speech#Selma50