Flowers: I don’t have to forgive Whoopi Goldberg
Published 11:07 am Friday, February 11, 2022
I really hate the phrase “it’s a teachable moment.”
People use it whenever they want to pretend that someone who messed up is going to regret her mistakes. This whole idea of redemption is wishful thinking, because very few people come out the other side of a major debacle with humility and self-awareness.
I don’t forgive Whoopi Goldberg for being a privileged putz. I doubt she’s a true anti-Semite, although who knows. Jew-hating is a common activity among the woke preachers of the 21st century, just as anti-Catholicism has been an acceptable “flaw” in otherwise tolerant folk. But again, I’m pretty sure Whoopi doesn’t harbor animus towards the children of Abraham.
But she’s a privileged, liberal loudmouth who’s made a career standing in judgment of lesser humans. Actually, a second career. Once upon a time, she was actually quite humorous and charming, a comedian with classic timing. That was before she started hating conservative white people, many of whom spent good money on her shows. And I don’t forgive her for that.
I also don’t forgive her for presuming that she can use her bully pulpit to rewrite history, and tell the world that the Holocaust wasn’t about race. I don’t forgive her for implying that the thing that attracts bigots and places innocents in danger is the color of their skin. When Whoopi actually suggested that her Jewish friend could avoid a racially motivated assault because he was protected by his melanin (or lack thereof) I literally got sick to my stomach.
I oppose cancellation. I heed the warnings of Orwell who identified the thought police generations before they acquired smart phones. Bad speech should be fought with better speech. Silencing evil doesn’t destroy it, it simply gives it subterranean channels in which to travel and multiply.
But there are consequences for those who deliberately mislabel 6 million corpses as the victims of white supremacy. What Whoopi did in saying that the Holocaust was not about killing Jews was to erase them. What she did was, in her own sly way, was dehumanization. She needed to make her own, personal brand of racism (anti-Black) into the only “official” sort of racism. She denied the truth, represented in the Shoah, of 6 million shredded destinies. And she did it over again, even after presenting a forced pseudo apology.
Is there anything worse than fabricated remorse? We can smell it, and Whoopi’s apology had a mighty stench. It was the “I’m sorry” of someone who resented being called out. And it should not be accepted.
There is nothing wrong with firing her because, in doing so, we can confirm that even the vaguest form of Holocaust denial delegitimizes the voice that utters it. Many will criticize my call for firing as hypocritical since I’ve attacked cancel culture in almost every column I’ve written, but I don’t think taking a powerful woman like Whoopi off of one of her platforms really silences her. In fact, it might actually amplify her voice, particularly if she can play the grievance card expertly enough. But Whoopi is not the wronged party here, and we have to distinguish between bearing the consequences of our actions, and being a true victim of censorship.
My friend Paul Missan, an attorney and proud Nether Providence graduate who cherishes his faith and identity as a Jewish man and father of proud Jewish children, wrote this to me in the wake of Whoopi’s comments:
“To me it is very reprehensible the double standard that Jews have to live with in this ultra-liberal environment where it is OK for someone to make a blatantly anti-Semitic statement while synagogues are being attacked and Jews are murdered and held hostage. Can you imagine the outrage if someone said that slavery was not racist? Well slavery was racist. And there’s no greater example of racism then the Holocaust where 6 million Jews were murdered because of their race. The fact is that looking Caucasian does not prevent one from being victimized in a hate crime.”
I can’t say it any better than that.
And if we’re really looking for a teachable moment, let’s take away this lesson: inhumanity comes in every shade of being, victimizes every race, targets every creed and crushes the invisible, colorless spirit of every creature known to God.
Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.