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In defense of Whoopi Goldberg

If someone were to claim that the gunman who took four Jews hostage in the synagogue in Colleyville Texas in January was a racist, I would vehemently respond by asserting that he wasn’t a racist, he was an antisemite. He came to attack Jews. He didn’t come to attack members of the Black race. He didn’t come to attack members of the Asian race, or any other race. I would therefore assert that the attack in Colleyville was not about race.

Sound familiar? It should. Whoopi Goldberg has been crucified over making the much-publicized statement “the Holocaust was not about race.” It is equivalent to my statement. Anyone who agrees with my statement should not criticize her statement. I am certain that her thoughts that accompanied her much-publicized words were that the Holocaust was about Hitler’s plan to exterminate the Jews. Judaism is a religion. Therefore the Holocaust was about religion, not about race. He didn’t plan to exterminate the Black race; he didn’t plan to exterminate the Asian race, or any other race.

What she was thinking when she spoke those words is the only thing that is relevant. What is irrelevant is that some people consider Jews to be a race. It would be hard for them to make their case. Googling “races of people” yields the following results:

White

Black or African American

American Indian or Alaska Native

Asian

Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander

There is no mention of a Christian race, a Muslim race, a Jewish race, a Buddhist race, or any other race defined by religious beliefs or practices.

And moreover, in the common vernacular the word race relates exclusively to skin color. Whenever someone is accused of being a racist, it is always because of their animosity or bigotry toward people of another skin color; it is never about their animosity toward people of another religion. We have all been aware of the recent rise in antisemitic attacks; they are never referred to as racial attacks, are they?

To further strengthen my opinion I present this short list of recent TV shows and movies about racism and race relations in America: 13th, Dear White People, The Hate U Give, Just Mercy, Whose Streets?, Selma, When They See Us. Not a single one of these productions is about strife or relations between people of different religions; they all regard race as the color of one’s skin. So regarding apologies, I think Ms. Goldberg is owed one, instead of having been pressured to make one.

Ira Buckman
Teaneck

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