by Peter Franklin
Wednesday, 2
February 2022
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11:51

What Whoopi Goldberg gets wrong about race

The comedian’s conception of racism is that it’s only about visible differences
by Peter Franklin

Whoopi Goldberg, actress and comedian, is also a co-host of The View — a daytime discussion programme on America’s ABC network. However, she’s just been suspended for two weeks for giving her opinion. 

It was, it must be said, a monumentally misinformed and offensive opinion. She said that “the Holocaust isn’t about race… it’s about man’s inhumanity to man”. Later she issued an apology:

She certainly does stand corrected. It’s a matter of historical record that the Nazis were absolutely obsessed with race — and that their hatred of the Jews was race-based. 

So what on earth could have led Goldberg to think that the Holocaust wasn’t about race? Her interview with Stephen Colbert provides an answer. She said that “Most of the Nazis were white people and most of the people they were attacking were white people. So to me I’m thinking how can you say it’s about race if you are fighting each other.”

Obviously, the idea that the Nazis and the Jews were “fighting each other” is a repellent way of describing what happened. But I’m assuming that was just an ill-chosen turn of phrase. What does seem to characterise Goldberg’s conception of race and racism is that it’s only about visible differences. Therefore, while white people can act with inhumanity to other white people, they can’t be racist to one another.

In this context, Goldberg also claims that the Nazis “had issues with ethnicity not with race.” But what is that distinction based on? At what point does an “ethnic” difference between two groups of people become a “racial” one? There is no scientifically valid criterion here, any category is political or cultural in origin and thus dependent on the social context.

It is therefore completely inappropriate to take categories that define the debate about race and racism in America today and apply them to other times and places as if they were universally applicable. Clearly, they are not — indeed one might describe any attempt to do so an example of cultural imperialism. Certainly, it “centres” the American experience in a way that isn’t 100% relevant to other countries. 

America still has an outsized cultural influence on the rest of the world, of course. But, when American commentators — whether of the woke Left or reactionary Right — choose to comment on the rest of the world, they should tread carefully and check their privilege.

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George Glashan
George Glashan
6 months ago

How would Whoopi explain what happened in Rwanda in 1994?
would she say:
“All of the Hutu were black people and all of the people they were attacking were black people. So to me I’m thinking how can you say it’s about race if you are fighting each other.”

Last edited 6 months ago by George Glashan
Rocky Rhode
Rocky Rhode
6 months ago
Reply to  George Glashan

I had the same thought.
Ditto the Muslim genocide of Hindus in India, Zulu expansionism in Africa (before the Zulu conflict with the British) and no doubt too many others to mention.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
6 months ago
Reply to  Rocky Rhode

Shona / Matabele in Zimbabwe too, of course. Mugabe was Shona, Nkomo was Matabele, and after seizing power the former turned on the latter, which is what Marxists do.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
6 months ago
Reply to  George Glashan

The concept of racism is utter rubbish, because the worst conflicts, genocides, wars, slavery, happen within your race.
Nobody treats blacks worse than other blacks, and Europeans reserved their worst atrocities for other white skinned people.

Last edited 6 months ago by Samir Iker
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
6 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Iran and Iraq sprung to mind…

Ray Hall
Ray Hall
6 months ago

Iranians tend to think of themselves as Persians not Arab like the Iraqis. Their war was quite vicious.
I think it is about hating the group next door , whether it is the community next door as in Northern Ireland, the language group next door , eg the French and the Flemish speakers in Belgium, or the nation next door , such as the French and the English.

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
6 months ago
Reply to  Ray Hall

hatred and fear, fear and hatred, yep!

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
6 months ago
Reply to  George Glashan

Sure she would. Until now.

Vince B
Vince B
6 months ago
Reply to  George Glashan

Given what she said about the Nazis, I think she would say just that about the Rwandan massacres. Her problem is that she has a limited idea of what constitutes “race” which, though a social construct, nonetheless does still have a definition that goes beyond just color differences.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
6 months ago

The issue isn’t about definitions of race.
The issue is that those who complain the most about “isms” are the worst offenders.

Just like muslims have the most phobias about other faiths or feminists are the worst sexists, blacks are the worst racists around.

And yes, they expect special treatment being the filthy racists they are, but in the name of victimhood.
Reparations, welfare checks, quotas, boosts to overcome their lack of education, because they were the only people ever to suffer, and they definitely aren’t referring to massive slavery and genocides by other blacks.

Hence, it rankles that some other group tried to muscle in to the victimhood scam, no matter how “deserved”

Last edited 6 months ago by Samir Iker
Andrea X
Andrea X
6 months ago

I think this article will help understand where she comes from:
https://sapirjournal.org/social-justice/2021/05/critical-race-theory-and-the-hyper-white-jew/

Max Price
Max Price
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrea X

Yep. Putrid.

Gillian Rhodes
Gillian Rhodes
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrea X

I’ve just read this paper. This CRT is shockingly disingenuous to readers who are looking for reasons to hate Jews!

Last edited 6 months ago by Gillian Rhodes
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrea X

Thanks Andrea, this was enlightening.

Emre Emre
Emre Emre
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrea X

From your linked article:

Critical social justice is not an extension of liberal or progressive politics, or even a critique of such politics.

I find it almost amusing to see this denial that Wokeism/CSJ is a clear extension of progressive politics. What’s happening today happened again and again in history, in Russia, in China and elsewhere where progressive intelligentsia led revolutions saying remarkably similar things to what CSJ adherents say today, and the author is at pains not to criticize progressives.

Last edited 6 months ago by Emre Emre
David Yetter
David Yetter
6 months ago
Reply to  Emre Emre

The notion that “critical social justice” is not an extension of previous leftist politics (whether they called themselves “liberals”, stealing the word from the original free-market, free-speech, freedom-of-conscience liberals, or “progressives”) is risable. The “woke” are the idiot intellectual descendants of the Frankfurt School, Foucault, Derrida, and a host of anti-colonialist “thinkers” who imbibed Lenin’s provably wrong imperialism theory like mother’s milk.

Deborah H
Deborah H
6 months ago

It’s impossible for Whoopi not to know it was about race. Unless she didn’t attend school or read anything.

Graham Hobbins
Graham Hobbins
6 months ago
Reply to  Deborah H

It’s a view with broad currency in anti-racism activitst circles and often in the wider community; the idea that the significance of the Holocaust is overplayed, that it is ‘Western-centric’ and that it is thus only because it happened to white people.
The singular nature of the Holocaust, and the depth, breadth and level of detail that was involved are often forgotten – as is the fact that people were murded en masse using industrial machinery and technology, designed and constructed specifically for that purpose.
I don’t think Whoopi should be cancelled or made to grovel etc.; she expressed a view and anybody should be free to do that, no matter how ill-judged. However, I should hope that she will – to coin a phrase – “educate herself” on the subject.

David Kingsworthy
David Kingsworthy
6 months ago
Reply to  Deborah H

Actually it’s possible since, as many have pointed out, the concept of racism has been hijacked by BLM and other segments of the woke left. Whoopi is simply confirming the shift in thinking that racism against blacks is the only kind of racism that matters currently.

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
6 months ago
Reply to  Deborah H

It is possible to attend school and emerge both stupid and ignorant, of course.

R Wright
R Wright
6 months ago

I have always found it interesting how Jewish people are considered ‘honorary white people’ one minute and ‘people of color’ the next. This likely explains the left’s confusion over the subject of Jews, as they dont fit neatly into the progressive stack /hierarchy of oppression that has been constructed.

Andrea X
Andrea X
6 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

Read the article I posted in my other comment.

R Wright
R Wright
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrea X

Interesting article.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrea X

Yes, the article you quote explains the difficulty Whooping Goldberg finds herself in. She has a black skin but identifies as a Jew hence the adoption of a Jewish name despite not claiming to be Jewish. Like many Jews she is very talented and successful but she doesn’t want to identify too much with her Jewish persona for all the reasons outlined in the article. Be less white.
So as not to be mistaken for a white supremacist (never mind that she is black) she distances herself from the taint of whiteness by explaining that Hitler wasn’t a racist because although he claimed to want to rid the Germans of the Jewish race he just didn’t understand critical race theory that states that only whites can be racist towards blacks not towards fellow whites. Hitler was just guilty of a category error. This way she can retain her black victim status despite being a Goldberg as she has endorsed CRT.
The disproportionate number of Jews in high status jobs in pre-war Germany might have suggested that the Germans were being oppressed by the the white supremacist Jews – all the non-Jewish Germans lacked was swarthier skins for this to accord with Critical Race Theory doctrine.
if you believe CRT you can twist yourself into ever madder positions in support of the whole farrago of nonsense. The disgrace is that this bilge is propagated in our institutions.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
6 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

Yes, I have met many dark skinned Jews. It was an observation of a friend of mine during the last skirmish – she could not figure out why Jews were referred to as white. Of course intersectionality is driving this….

Max Price
Max Price
6 months ago

It’s just the logical conclusion of New Left thinking. It’s stooped in entitlement, ignorance and absurdity.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
6 months ago

To many African-Americans there are only two races: white and black. A binary option. Everyone else must be forced into one group or the other. By extension the only ‘racial’ violence must involve black people. If it doesn’t, it is not ‘racial’.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
6 months ago

What struck me was that the person she was talking to responded by saying that the Nazis were “white supremacists”, so neither of them were able to think about the Holocaust outside the framework and language of contemporary US political catcalling. She might just as well have said: those Nazis were, like, real Nazis.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
6 months ago

This idea on racism being primarily white on black ( or POC) seems to be the new American religion. The ADL surprisingly seems to agree with Whoppi, seeing only racism in white on POC relations. See here:

https://www.adl.org/racism

American ideas of “whiteness” doesn’t apply pretty much anywhere in Europe. This country alone is a country of different historic nations, often during that history at each other’s throats; it has 6 millions immigrants from Europe most of them white – and yet clearly not any kind of dominant group. Whiteness can’t explain Sinn Fein, the SNP, Welsh or Cornish nationalism, or the north south divide, nor can it explain Brexit.

This theory isn’t very useful.

Edit: the ADL changed their definition. You can see what they had below in George’s comments.

Last edited 6 months ago by Franz Von Peppercorn
George Glashan
George Glashan
6 months ago

ADL definition of Racism: The marginalization and/or oppression of people of color based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy that privileges white people.

And then later they have this absolute golden nugget :

* In the above definition, the term “white supremacy” refers to the systematic marginalization or oppression of people of color based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy that privileges people who identify as white. It does not refer to extremist ideologies which believe that white people are genetically or culturally superior to non-whites and/or that white people should live in a whites-only society.

where do you even begin to communicate / argue / debate with these people when their definition of white supremacy excludes white people with a racial superiority complex but does include people who “identify as white” who systemically marginalise people of colour? can non-whites identify as white and marginalise people of colour? If a black person can identify as white are they white, Are these people literally arguing that black can be white??

this stuff is all horse sh!t on stilts, these neo-racists are incredibly tedious

Last edited 6 months ago by George Glashan
Warren T
Warren T
6 months ago
Reply to  George Glashan

If one is “allowed” to chose their biological sex, then what prevents them from choosing their race? Or, for that matter, their species?

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
6 months ago
Reply to  Warren T

There have already been a number of celebrated instances of white people claiming to be black, hispanic or Native American.

George Glashan
George Glashan
6 months ago
Reply to  Warren T

im with you Warren, i don’t understand the distinction, why do the Woke accept Trans-gender but they reject Trans-racial? but the fault may be with us, we are looking for logic from nutters

Lou Campbell
Lou Campbell
6 months ago
Reply to  George Glashan

Yes you’ll go mad yourself if you try to apply logic, reason or commonsense to this stuff.
Those three things used to be the basis of everything, but yet finding any of them is worryingly difficult these days!

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
6 months ago
Reply to  Warren T

Yes, and then you could say “I’m a black man trapped in a white man’s body” or visa versa.

George Glashan
George Glashan
6 months ago
Reply to  George Glashan

Just wanted to come back here to record this for posterity, the ADL have today memory holed the above definition and now the web page defines racism as this:

Racism (interim definition): Racism occurs when individuals or institutions show more favorable evaluation or treatment of an individual or group based on race or ethnicity. (Prof. Robert Livingston, The Conversation).

Christina Dalcher
Christina Dalcher
6 months ago

“Goldberg’s conception of race and racism is that it’s only about visible differences…”

I’d go farther and suggest that her conception of race is much more black and white (in both the figurative and literal senses).

What Goldberg gets wrong is believing that race issues in the USA are only about the ‘visible differences’ of skin color. I think—for the past few decades—the issues have been more about culture. I don’t know a single American who gives a damn about what color a person is, but I know plenty who judge people by their habits and behavior.

This may help explain why many Yankees experience a type of culture shock when they travel—they end up sitting on a plane with some bloke from, say, Kenya who’s heading off to speak at a global economics conference, and they don’t automatically think of their fellow traveler as black. They think of him as an economist from Kenya. Why? Because, in many ways, ‘black’ in the US isn’t about skin color.

Look at how this plays out in the film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner:

In 1967, Poitier’s character was considered black first, and erudite second. Fifty-four years later, it’s the other way around. (Just try making this film now,and watch the yawning start).

Vince B
Vince B
6 months ago

Goldberg has never been the sharpest tool in the shed, but I am sorry to see that she was suspended by ABC. Another example of gutless institutions caving into peer pressure (not government censorship), and doing nothing to stand up for free expression. Pretty ironic, in this instance of a major television network.
What a great example would have been made if the head of ABC stated, “We disagree strongly with Whoopie’s comments, but she’s not a hateful person, just wrong. She did not mean to hurt anyone. We want a forum which allows people the freedom to think out loud and get things wrong on occasion without them worrying about their careers.”

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
6 months ago

Maybe she was half right – it is clear that, to the Nazis the Holocaust was, first and foremost, a racial “cleansing”, they termed it so themselves; but maybe we should all stop thinking in terms of race now; and see all the terrible things that are happening as Man’s inhumanity to Man as Ms Goldberg says. As the whole concept of “race” is something decided rather arbitrarily, people do take external differences to signify racial differences, therefore Ms Goldberg is not doing anything that many have not done before her. Incidentally I remember all the anthropologists etc saying that as “race” is a social construct we should stop seeing people through this lens, what happened to that idea? It certainly doesn’t seem current as everything and every person is seen through the lens of “race” now.

Lou Campbell
Lou Campbell
6 months ago

I think you’re giving her way too much credit.
In the follow-up interview she actually said that the Nazis were ‘lying’ and it wasn’t about race. Which is totally crazy because they were out in front with their disgusting views and Hitler’s Nuremberg laws are specifically about the ‘purity’ of their race specifically regarding Jews.

Warren T
Warren T
6 months ago

Perhaps she should be deplatformed for spreading “misinformation”?

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
6 months ago

Does this episode mean that we should now refer to her as “Whoopsi” Goldberg?

Has no-one remarked that Goldberg is commonly a surname from the Jewish community? Have I missed something?

David Yetter
David Yetter
6 months ago

Someone has: John Podhoretz, who writes for The New York Post and edits the center-right Jewish opinion journal Commentary suggested that if she is taking that attitude, Caryn Johnson should at least have the decency to drop the name Goldberg, which she appropriated from another racial and cultural group. I agree, even though I am not Jewish. (She can keep Whoopi as far as I’m concerned, though if that name is somehow strongly connected to some non-black ethnic group, maybe its members will now object to her assuming it as well.)

Last edited 6 months ago by David Yetter
Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
6 months ago

O, goodness — when will you even learn? There is only ONE race. The HUMAN race.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
6 months ago

Ok, having read the comments and not seeing this aspect discussed, I’m going to throw a different pebble in the water by defending Goldberg.
I was shocked at what she said, and then read a little more about her history and was reminded of the time in the nineties that she and her husband, Ted Danson, wrote and delivered a spoken comedy routine to an awards ceremony with Danson in black face as part of the comedy. She and Danson were, as you’d expect, universally condemned for this, and she defended it as edgy and challenging humour, that being her nature and her job as a comedian (comedienne?).
Being reminded of the desperate need in our culture for edgy and challenging comedians, and the fact their characters cause them to dance at the boundary of offence, I think I appreciate she made a mistake in her speech because of her nature to be spiky. I think that mistake was catalysed, as many have said here, by the USA blinkers she has about race as only a black problem, reinforced hugely by BLM in recent years.
So in conclusion, I like the fact that she and Danson tried to be funny years ago with a daring black face routine, and I can accept she screwed up here because of her spiky nature. So she shouldn’t be censored, and she’s provided great insight hopefully to Americans about their blinkered views of race.

Last edited 6 months ago by Ian Stewart
Andy Blake
Andy Blake
6 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

I’m going to agree with the above as far as it goes, but I’m not so sure she did make a mistake, in her grasp of the facts at least.

Let’s analyse what Goldberg said and how her critics have responded, and think with our brains and not our hurt feelings. The case against her is that she is minimizing anti-semitism by reducing it to white-on-white hate. Her critics object that all Jews are not white; that the Holocaust was the culmination of a special history of Jew-hate in Europe spanning centuries.

If that’s how we see it, then what are we saying all those centuries of hate were based on? Because if Jews are not all white, then it was not based on race. In which case, we are making Whoopi Goldberg’s point exactly!

All of that hate was based on religious/ethnic identity, not on race. More specifically, it was about a misconstruction of the relationship between the Christian religious identity and the Jewish religious identity — a historical tragedy with many complex aspects.

But it wasn’t about race until the 19th century. That was when the religion-based hostility to Jews (which already existed) started to justify itself on phoney biological grounds: the idea that Jews represent something called a “semitic race”. Without belief in a “semitic race”, you see anti-Judaism, but you don’t yet have anti-semitism.

The nazis bought right into the racial idea (although the position was, “we are neither semitic nor anti-semitic, just non-semitic”). But the foundations of that ideology were a lie. There is no “semitic race”. Most Jews — but not all — belong to the Caucasoid (“white”) race. The nazis justified themselves in terms of imagined racial differences, but in reality their crimes were committed against other white Europeans: Jews, Gypsies, Slavs…

That is why the Holocaust both was about race (notionally) and was not about race (factually). Listening to Whoopi Goldberg’s explanations, it is clear that this is the very point she was trying to make: the racism was founded on a lie. And in the typical fashion of U.S. woke/identity politics/snowflake/outrage culture, she has been pilloried because offended responses are being prioritised above the often complicated effort to understand and explain historical facts.

You can only be accountable for what you actually say, not for motives that somebody else reads in. It is not in the least fair to hold someone accountable for somebody else’s baseless or careless misreading (and many of her critics are *wilfully* misreading her for reasons of political antipathy). That is *precisely* what outrage culture is.

Now I would say it’s indeed true that WG prioritises between-race (specifically white-on-black) injustices over within-race (white-on-white) genocide. But the answer to that minimizing of white people is surely to put *emphasis* on the remembrance of white-on-white atrocities. I don’t see how that is served by WG’s critics taking offence at talking about white-on-white.

The heart of the misunderstanding is an irony: by definition, white-on-white hate is not about race. It arises from factors other than race. In the case of the Holocaust, it was motivated by an ideology which amplified religious/cultural factors into *misconceived* racial ones.

WG’s defence was that she can see race when she looks at you. Is that looking at the matter through a U.S. black/white prism? I don’t think it’s quite that simplistic. Race is real — although skin colour is not the sole defining trait and should be used with some elasticity. But on the whole, there is a good match between human genetic groupings and visible phenotypes. If I can see it, I’d be astonished if she didn’t. The point she made is that the nazis saw race where it wasn’t.

Never mind Goldberg’s other opinions about race: I am no fan of those. But we are considering this particular issue. And from here it reads like a case of people on both sides meaning the same thing and fighting over the form of words. This is what the culture wars have brought us down to.

But one side (the corporation) has the real power in this situation: the power to suspend, to cancel, to humiliate, to ruin a reputation. And that power is by far the more dangerous. We have bigger fish to fry than Whoopi Goldberg.

I hear Goldberg might actually quit the show. If so, she joins the growing list of would-be cancellers who have cancelled themselves over Joe Rogan’s podcast. Some would say it’s poetic justice for her own, often obnoxious stance against Joe Rogan and many others. But in this case, innocently upsetting the Jewish community isn’t even a good reason for self-cancellation.

Me, I’d keep Whoopi on *and* return Gina Carano to ‘The Mandalorian’. No double standards!

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
6 months ago

If Whoopi Goldberg had read the Anti Definition League’s (ADL) definition of racism on 24th January, based on that definition, she would be quite correct to say that Hitler never showed any racism against Jewish people. On that day, the ADL’s definition of racism read:
Racism: The marginalization and/or oppression of people of color based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy that privileges white people.
This can be seen using the wayback machine:
https://web.archive.org/web/20220124205214/https://www.adl.org/racism
The webpage was edited on 2nd February with a new, totally different definition:
Racism (interim definition): Racism occurs when individuals or institutions show more favorable evaluation or treatment of an individual or group based on race or ethnicity
Again, this has been found using the wayback machine:
https://web.archive.org/web/20220202191016/https://www.adl.org/racism
Would it be terribly cynical to suggest that the ADL has – in an Orwellian move – completely changed its definition of racism because Whoopi Goldberg’s grotesque conclusions follow so easily from the old definition on the ADL website?

Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
6 months ago

Weird! Curious that they put in that disclaimer ‘interim definition’ – making pretty obvious it’s just been edited!

David Bell
David Bell
6 months ago

ADF: Anti-Defamation League.

Dominic A
Dominic A
6 months ago

It was…a monumentally misinformed and offensive opinion

For decades it has been the widespread norm to talk of racism as being based solely on skin colour – ‘racism is skin deep’ – and increasingly as an attitude problem exclusively of white to black. This too is monumentally misinformed and offensive, and I don’t think we can blame WG for that. Racism is deeply intertwined with class, tribalism, and innate cognitive biases, such as a tendency to fear what we do not know. As Jon McWhorter keeps pointing out, It increasingly connects to inverted racism – for example the way that much ‘anti-racism’, though probably in good faith, is actually horrendously patronising.

William Hickey
William Hickey
6 months ago

How many left wing premises can Peter Franklin stuff into one short column?

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
6 months ago
Reply to  William Hickey

Gosh, you see this as left-wing. I’ll search harder ti find the left-wing premises.

William Hickey
William Hickey
6 months ago

“At what point does an “ethnic” difference between two groups of people become a “racial” one? There is no scientifically valid criterion here, any category is political or cultural in origin and thus dependent on the social context.”

That race is a social construct is a liberal idea, one currently regnant in every university sociology department.

Conservatives, on the other hand, acknowledge that race, which denotes biological relatedness, is real.

“Indeed, one might describe any attempt to do so an example of cultural imperialism.”

Is it a liberal or a conservative premise to subscribe to “cultural imperialism” as opposed to, say, “the marketplace of ideas”?

“…they should tread carefully and check their privilege.”

How often did Burke, Oakeshott, Reagan or Thatcher advise opponents to “check their privilege”?

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
6 months ago

It’s the vogue for flippancy that’s the issue.
The vogue for pontificating that “I stand corrected”, or “I’m educating myself. Please send me your love”, or “I’m taking time out to come to terms with my ignorance and failings”:and so, You all get ready to do likewise! Because things are being taken to the next level! Flippancy is used as a way to be patronising, pure and simple. A fillip for the one who patronises. In the buzz of the internet, being flippant may earn you many thumbs-up, many points.

But the vogue for chipping away at the monumentality of the Holocaust is probably most effective in terms of the flippancy directed daily at it.
To give one example, when dyed-in-the-wool anti-British types say that “It was the Brits who invented the concentration camps,” and one imagines easily nodding heads and images of those dastardly Brits, and neither peep about, nor from, the Continent. In the internet age, flippancy is dangerous and irresponsible.

That thing that the British invented the concentration camp is a reference to the Boer War and the terrible experience of the Boers’ soldiers’ families who were rounded up by the British. An experience not unlike what principally both Dutch and British families went through in internment camps (if I may call them THAT) in Java, Indonesia, after the fall of the Dutch and British colonies to the Japanese in the south-east Asia region, in 1942 (Tenko, a TV series from the Seventies or Eighties was about that experience). These expatriate families died also of maltreatment, with disease and starvation rife for the three years of the war.

Flippancy is frequently deployed, sadly, to downplay the industrialisation of, yes, man’s inhumanity to man, which in historical terms first became reality for Europe’s Jewish peoples, still within living memory, who were systematically killed by the Nazis right up until the Soviets were within a couple of days of liberating the death camps. Europe’s Jews had been deemed by the Nazis as SUB-HUMAN.
Flippancy is frequently deployed to dismiss the uniqueness of the Holocaust in the annals of man’s inhumanity to man. That flippancy even goes so far, occasionally, as to sideline man’s inhumanity to man as mere cliché.

Last edited 6 months ago by Dustshoe Richinrut
Harry Child
Harry Child
6 months ago

Why or why do people give apologies for what they have said or done when it is obvious that they don’t regret saying it. Goldberg spurious apology would seem to stem from the mantra that only white people are racist, others never.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
6 months ago

The maddening thing about this is that the media is now trying to ‘save’ her by claiming we are all guilty of thinking like Whoopi Goldberg.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
6 months ago

This article is a classic example of basic ignorance—lack of knowledge of the subject in the French sense of ignorer—combined with confused thinking stemming from that deficit.
In fact, the distinction between race and ethnicity is clear, and has been consistently clear for centuries.
Race refers to that component of our human makeup determined by heredity. It pertains to blood relationships passed down via hereditary lines, to familial and tribal groupings. The modern science of genetics belongs here. It has to do with kin, relationships we come in with at birth, as opposed to the voluntarily chosen relationships, the friendships, of kith.
Ethnicity refers to that which is learnt, acquired and acculturated in our makeup.
In the difference between Nature and Nurture we have a reflection of the race and ethnicity distinction.
Ethnic affiliations can be changed, eschewed, adopted. Racial grouping is fixed.
Confusion between the two terms seems to have arisen relatively recently in Britain, and to have been caused by discussions previously reserved to an educated elite becoming part of popular debate over the hot-topic issues of immigration, integration versus multiculturalism, and a frequent desire to be “politically correct” and avoid giving offence.
Science cannot give a valid distinction between the two terms since its sphere of operation is by definition confined to the natural world, this physical world in which we live with our ordinary everyday consciousness. Hence it can, and does, investigate genetics. But the origins of human culture stretch up into spiritual worlds as well as manifesting in this world. Natural science cannot comprise those spiritual worlds.
Popular TV programmes such as Who do you think you are? which investigate ancestry, commit the crime of defining a person by their racial inheritance, the physical component, alone, thus depriving that person of their human soul and their higher spiritual potential. The human soul lives on via reincarnation, not through heredity.
The long-term trajectory of human evolution is from race—the races had been formed by the end of the Ice Age, through ethnic groupings—these have been the evolutionary focus for the past 11,000 years or so, ultimately to voluntary associative grouping chosen by free individuals—this is in embryonic form at present, and will be be fulfilled in the future.
************
Note: “Evolution” as used here refers to the full spectrum of physical, soul and spiritual evolution. Darwinian evolution traces the development of our animal component. It does not address our soul or spiritual development. These remain the preserve of progressive spirituality in various streams around the world.

Warren T
Warren T
6 months ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

That was a long winded, and overly erudite comment suitable for a high-browed cocktail party for retired sociology professors on the Upper East side of Manhattan, but what is your conclusion?

Emre Emre
Emre Emre
6 months ago
Reply to  Warren T

I’d guess it’s about that Voltairean idea that if people knew more facts about a topic, they’d be morally better people: e.g. if Goldberg knew more about evolution theory she’d be less likely to make anti-Semitic comments. Everything else aside, this interestingly becomes flawed reasoning when science/logic itself is seen as racist in the first place.

Last edited 6 months ago by Emre Emre
Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
6 months ago
Reply to  Emre Emre

You ask whether the Enlightenment project contributed anything to human progress and civilisation?
Knowledge is a necessary but not sufficient condition for moral development. Abstract brain knowledge itself has to be raised to a higher level. It has to be accompanied by a similarly developed, enlightened knowledge of the heart. See Dr Rudolf Steiner’s book The philosophy of freedom.
Goldberg wasn’t anti-Semitic, just ignorant of the deeper facts. She got it intuitively, but was unable to defend her statement from a real knowledge base. I wrote a detailed reply citing some real facts in answer to Warren T here, but some moderator has apparently deleted it, for reasons I am unable to comprehend. I am reworking my reply to Warren T in the hope that this time my post will remain. Have a look at that for more detail

Last edited 6 months ago by Penelope Lane
Emre Emre
Emre Emre
6 months ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

Thank you for the reply, and the book reference, I’ll have a look. Steiner is one of those people who come up in unexpected places for me including this case now.
Replies tend to hit filters if you include certain keywords by the way.
You haven’t set a very high bar for judging Enlightenment there though. Nazis contributed to progress and civilisation: we’re still driving those VWs on the motorways they thought of building. Yet they’re not what one would call a net positive obviously.
As for Goldberg, I don’t think we can assume here she wasn’t anti-Semitic – and really that’s the point. That she was beaten into a quick apology doesn’t explain why she said what she said in the first place. There’s no way to know for certain that had she known more about evolution, she would’ve had less or more anti-Semitic views. Nazis were obsessed with evolution. It doesn’t seem to have stopped them doing the things they did.

Last edited 6 months ago by Emre Emre
Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
6 months ago
Reply to  Emre Emre

Agreed, we can’t know for certain what Goldberg would have done had she been better informed. Knowledge may be a necessary condition for rising above prejudice, but it isn’t necessarily sufficient. Racial prejudices are formed at deep levels in the pre-rational parts of the psyche, which is why they can be so difficult to shift.
There doesn’t seem to be any evidence of deliberate racist intent in Goldberg’s original comment, however, so much as naivety. She seemed to be speaking simply, out of her personal American experience of anti-black prejudice, rather than ideologically or academically. It came across as something like, “Why should those Jews get all the attention when we blacks have it far worse, and nobody cares about us!”
Nazis got evolution completely wrong. They pushed a mass of fake facts and twisted ideological fantasies on to an unsuspecting public—in their case, consciously and deliberately. They expertly targeted pre-rational parts of the mass consciousness in order to stoke hatred and division. They were obsessed with power, the lust for power, emphasising ultra enhancement of the ego-self via selective breeding to produce the Übermensch.
Hitler seems to have been a deranged psychopath who was manipulated by shadowy black occult groups operating through organisations such as the SS. The best occult analysis of the Third Reich I have read is titled Matin des Magiciens, written by a couple of Frenchmen whose names I now forget (it was published years ago). An internet search should bring it up if you want to pursue that angle.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
6 months ago
Reply to  Warren T

This is my second attempt to reply to you. The first was deleted by some moderator for reasons I am unable to comprehend. I see this second attempt has just been flagged “awaiting for approval”. I insist there is nothing in this reply which warrants censorship by a moderator. Please leave this reply in place!
In order to ensure this reply is allowed to remain, let me make it clear that I research human futures and progressive evolution based in the work of Dr Rudolf Steiner. Steiner lived at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and was a high initiate in the western esoteric tradition. He brought a modern western spiritual path to the public without distinction as to race, creed, gender or ethnicity. He founded the anthroposophical movement, and numerous applications of his work are to be found around the world, including biodynamic agriculture, Steiner education, anthroposophical medicine, among the best known. Steiner dealt in detail with human origins and the questions of race and culture. He is widely respected, internationally known, and his credentials are impeccable, in that he devoted huge efforts to trying to head off the increasing antisemitism apparent in his time.
For myself, I hold a doctorate in spiritual traditions plus have a lifetime of experience in the field, and while this does not mean I am always right, of course, it does mean I am well qualified to comment on this subject.
So, let’s try again: you ask, What is my conclusion? Fair enough.
In spiritual history, a period of world evolution preceding our own is known as Atlantis. Its end coincided with what science knows as the end of the Ice Age, around 10,500 BC. Atlantis saw the formation and development of the human races.
The fifth period of Atlantis saw the development of the original Semites. It also saw the development of the original Aryans. These two peoples have a common origin in that time. The race known in esoteric teaching as “Ethiopian” developed earlier in Atlantis. It includes peoples such as modern n*g*o*s*. *[See note at end of this reply.]
The history of development of the races is known in spiritual traditions around the world, not just in Steiner’s teachings. Native Americans speak of five races: the black, brown, red, yellow and white races. Steiner relates these races to planetary influences. Hindu/Buddhist tradition also follows this history. But they all describe the same evolutionary process.
When our current Post-Atlantean age got going around 7000–8000 BC after the floods had subsided (the story of Noah and the ark), the evolutionary focus shifted to cultural development, i.e. to ethnicity. Races had been formed. Now the challenge was cultural. Steiner emphasises this point repeatedly. Nature had done its bit. Now, over to nurture.
Different cultures developed via migrations to different parts of the globe. We now saw the Indo-European peoples develop out of ancient India then migrate westward back to Europe. The Semitic peoples developed in the Near East. Hamitic groups blossomed in Africa. Various cultures developed out of the old races. Then these tribal groupings began to intermix, rendering the old racial divisions even more obsolete and blurring ethnic divisions too. Hereditary bloodlines were miscegenated. People started marrying out.
Today, we face a new evolutionary challenge: to transcend divisions on the basis of race or ethnic group, to achieve new voluntary groupings of free individuals.
Goldberg correctly intuited that Europeans and Semites have a closer racial origin than Europeans vis-à-vis various Hamitic races. So modern Europeans and Jews are racially closer to each other than modern European-Americans and African-Americans. But all this is a complete red herring, because it distracts attention away from the important evolutionary challenges of our time.
Semites include not just Jews but also Palestinians and Arabs. Intermarriage has meant there are black Jews and black Europeans. Some peoples in the Indo-Pacific are very white. It becomes meaningless to try to base action or policy on racial or ethnic distinctions. Goldberg belatedly realised this, I think. But it would be incorrect to condemn her as a racist, since there was no racist intent in her original comment.
I hope this answers your question. You can read up on the subject in detail in Steiner’s lectures and books. Go to RSArchive.com to find most of his work online. Human spiritual history is indeed quite fascinating.

  • Using this word may have been the reason why my original reply to you was deleted. But I can’t talk about evolutionary facts without using the necessary correct language!
Last edited 6 months ago by Penelope Lane
nigel roberts
nigel roberts
6 months ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

You are Titania McGrath and I claim my five pounds.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
6 months ago
Reply to  nigel roberts

Titania Mc Grath: “a militant vegan who thinks she is a better poet than William Shakespeare”
I had never heard of her. I had to look her up. The saddest thing of all is people who cannot recognise facts and knowledge when they encounter them. Not even a question to put back to me? Just mockery as a substitute for an answer?
I eat meat, am not a poet, hold a doctorate in the field of spiritual traditions plus a lifetime of experience, so am well qualified to comment on the subject. I research human futures and progressive human evolution based in the work of the late spiritual initiate Dr Rudolf Steiner.
You lose ten pounds.

Last edited 6 months ago by Penelope Lane
George Glashan
George Glashan
6 months ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

Can we have some facts for the existence of Atlantis please?
Or do you mean that Atlantis Leisure Centre, in Oban Scotland was responsible for the formation and development of the human races. ?

Last edited 6 months ago by George Glashan
Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
6 months ago
Reply to  George Glashan

Yes, you can have some facts, but I suspect, being familiar with your postings, that you will not want to accept them. Notwithstanding that, you asked, so I will reply. Here goes.
The known facts regarding the existence of Atlantis are derived from spiritual knowledge. This is different from the ordinary type of knowledge we recognise today, i.e. knowledge of this physical world which we perceive and cognise with our ordinary day-to-day faculties.
Spiritual knowledge is derived from higher faculties which are awakened through spiritual training. This knowledge has always been available to mankind, through all ages and in all places.
In earliest Post-Atlantean times, say, from around 7000 BC to 3000 BC, human beings retained an instinctual ability to perceive spiritual words directly. This meant they received their knowing directly from teachers in the spiritual worlds. Then came a time when this old instinctive spiritual perception started to be lost. An intermediate period obtained from around 3000 BC to 1000 BC when the old shared group clairvoyance still operated, but at a lower level of perception. Finally, from around 1000 BC, development towards an individualised consciousness, a personal self-conscious earthly ego, took prominence. The price paid for this positive evolutionary development was loss of the old group-soul clairvoyance of spiritual worlds. Fast forward to today, when loss of that atavistic means of knowing is near total. It persists among unreliable, low-level psychics, of the sort that do tarot and hand readings and newspaper horoscopes and suchlike offerings.
This evolutionary development affected knowledge of old Atlantis insofar as, while the earliest Post-Atlanteans still knew of it via direct spiritual perception, gradually people came to rely on the revelation and instruction of external spiritual teachers. This is the point where religion had its beginnings, around 3000 BC: external, physically incarnated initiate teachers were now needed to instruct the various peoples at specific times and particular places around the world, because the people could no longer access the knowledge for themselves. So at this point, knowledge of Atlantis became the preserve of initiate teachers who had trained and awakened their own higher faculties of perception. They passed this knowledge on to the peoples in the form of stories and myths based in a picture consciousness, in pictorial imaginations, since that was the form ordinary understanding took in those times. These imaginations varied in form according to the particular needs of the time and place, but notwithstanding these differences, the story of Atlantis was still told, around the globe, to all major groupings of peoples. It has been told right down to the present day: think of Plato, an initiate in times when spiritual training was needed to access spiritual worlds. Fast forward to today, when Rudolf Steiner and other modern initiates have performed a similar spiritual service to respond to the needs of both our modern western peoples and those of the east of planet Earth.
************
So if you want to know about Atlantis, you have two options:

  1. You can undertake some spiritual training yourself to gain direct access to spiritual worlds. As in everything, some people find this easier than others—we are all different, and each of us has come into this life with specific talents and things we are destined to do. Be warned: if the freshling intending to enter politics is advised to watch out for the can of worms, this advice applies manifold times to freshlings wanting to enter spiritual worlds. But the rewards of success are commensurately greater, too.
  2. You can survey and collect evidences of Atlantis remaining in this world.

If you choose to look in this world, you could usefully check out:
—surviving myths, spiritual teachings, legends from around the globe, in particular stories of the end times and the Flood
—archeological remains prior to 10,500 BC
—geological evidence: look for worldwide Flood stories which match evidence of sea level changes, even in the Eastern hemisphere, e.g. the remarkable work of Stephen Oppenheimer; in particular, look at the teachings of Native Americans regarding Atlán
—linguistic connections of the words Atlán, Atlantis with water.
I hope this goes some way to answering your request.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
6 months ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

It’s a good summary: ethnicity is to race what gender is to sex. Still, given that splitting gender and sex has caused a global culture war, maybe we should wait a while before splitting ethnicity and race?

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
6 months ago

I see where you’re coming from, but unfortunately, ethnicity and race are split and have always been split, because they are different things. All that has happened is that they have become confused in the public mind. Surely, confusion is not to be desired? It can solve nothing. Making real facts available is at least a start to mutual understanding.
Same goes for gender and sex. We need to understand the difference, not sweep it under the carpet.
But I agree with you that we need to focus on the things that are most relevant for further evolution today, and not get sidetracked and stuck in the past, which is what the counter-evolutionary forces are trying to achieve.
Thanks for your comment.
PS Why is it that people with Irish surnames on Unherd seem to have a better understanding of spirituality than those with English surnames? A purely anecdotal impression on my part, but it does keep coming up.

Last edited 6 months ago by Penelope Lane
Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
6 months ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

To answer your PS, I think Irish people of a certain disposition have been hounded out from their herd – apologies for the mixed metaphor. Still, over here on Unherd, there is an Unherd herd, to which your own contributions are a welcome antidote.
My own disposition would be more towards the Tom Chivers camp – not very spiritual – but I do have a Mary Harrington-esque appreciation for the spiritual side of human nature.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
6 months ago

Lovely! Thankyou.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
6 months ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

Thanks for this explanation, Penelope, but I simply can’t get on board with it. I base my responses to people based on their looks, age, speech, politeness, humor, friendliness and many other factors – too many to list out here.
Race and ethnicity have never been a factor for me in how I treat people. I hate, hate, hate this new ideology that orders people to consider unconscious biases and to treat people based on perceived societal and racial disadvantages.
I have been accused of willful ignorance by those whose living depends on making others see race, because I simply refuse to engage in discussions about race. They’re usually ugly and unpleasant. They serve no real purpose except to toxify relationships and conversations with people who look a little different to ourselves. I miss simpler times when antiracism amounted to nothing more than treating people the same way you yourself would like to be treated.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
6 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

But I completely agree with you! With everything you say… That is where I personally stand, too.
The difference between us is simply that I have an obligation to disseminate knowledge and true facts, because that is an integral part of my spiritual work. If I didn’t work in the field professionally, I would stand where you stand in my view of what is to be done or not done.
So I answer people who demand to know the basis of my knowledge about racism and ethnicity. Sometimes that knowledge helps them, sometimes not.
That means I have to spend a portion of my time addressing old issues that some are still working through. I only wish everyone were like you, fully based in the present.
Thanks so much for your response; you highlighted a very important point. Blessed are they that stand fully in the present… !

David Yetter
David Yetter
6 months ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

The problem with your analysis is that race is not a biological category. Which heritable characteristics constitute a difference in race is entirely a matter of social convention. In America, “black” refers to having an ancestor from among the indigenous people of sub-Saharan Africa post-hominid-expansion-into-Eurasia (cf. the ‘one drop rule’). In Brazil, it refers only to skin color, so that a Dravidian from India would be “black”, while an albino descendant of slaves imported from sub-Saharan Africa would not. In Rwanda, infamously, endomorphs and ectomorphs are regarded as distinct races. The Nazis regarded Jews as a different race.
In each case there are heritable genetic markers correlating with being of a given race (yes, there are genetic markers shared by Ashkenazim and Sephardim, even as there are genetic markers for body-type, skin-color and recent ancestors from sub-Saharan Africa), but that they, as opposed to the heritable genetic marker for, say attached or detached earlobes, are regarded as meaningful in human social relations is purely a matter of social convention, which, as my examples show, varies from society to society.

Last edited 6 months ago by David Yetter
Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
6 months ago
Reply to  David Yetter

The problem with your analysis is that race is not a biological category. Which heritable characteristics constitute a difference in race is entirely a matter of social convention.
You cite current social confusion regarding race in various cultures as evidence that therefore race is not a biological category.
This is like taking sentences from modern mass media such as: “He knew that it’s colour was green”, citing the “it’s” as the social usage given, then arguing backwards to ‘prove’ that “it is” therefore has no substance, no relation to correct grammar. In other words, current usage is correct grammar. So you say, current usage of the term ‘race’ is its own definition of race.
There are enormous problems with this approach.
For a start, it obliterates history and historical development. How can you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve come from?
Further, it annihilates all distinction between correct and incorrect, between right and wrong usage; thereby it impoverishes the linguistic resources available to us to express ourselves.
But worst of all, such practices systematically undermine the basis of human knowledge, resulting ultimately in such phenomena as creation of fake facts on an industrial scale, and the devising of alternative realities which share no points of intersection with the agreed reality of the time. This in turn inhibits human ability to understand the other person, setting human evolution back tens of thousands of years.
The whole point of my comments has been to shed some light on the current confusion over race by introducing some firm foundations for knowledge of the subject. So I explained (i) established spiritual history which draws firm, clear distinction between race and ethnicity, pointing up the place of each in human evolution and their relevance or lack of it today, (ii) the parallel with the nature/nurture division, and (iii) the link of race to heredity and ethnicity to culture.
I should perhaps have noted that the colour terms, “yellow/brown/red/white/black race”, etc., are a sort of shorthand, referring to the original forming of the race in question. It is understood that skin colour changes over time with miscegenation and other external factors such as long residence in a particular climate, e.g. the far northern regions producing pale skin, or place of habitation, e.g. Hawaiian spiritual initiates being prepared via confinement to dark caves for protracted periods.
The relating of race to inherited characteristics is still important, since it is heredity which has to be overcome in the course of our future evolution, as I explained in my earlier comments. “Purity of the bloodline” which was the basis for development of the races in Atlantis, is now the obstacle to further progress. And ethnicity, if employed in any exclusionary sense, is likewise a brake on development. If we lose the distinction between the terms, we lose the entire teaching basis for progressive spiritual evolution and our human directions on into the future.

Jim Davis
Jim Davis
6 months ago

Whoopi is correct. Judaism is a religion not a race. Jews are people who practice Judaism or are born of Jewish parents. Except for a few black Jewish groups, Jews are Caucasian. Check out “The Myth of the Jewish Race” by Alain F Corcos lupress.cas.lehigh.edu/content/myth-j…. #whoopigoldbe

Jim Davis
Jim Davis
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Davis

One more junior high world history question after reading more comments. In the Catholic vs Protestant religious wars of the 1500s, which side were the “racists” and what are some examples of “racism?”

Last edited 6 months ago by Jim Davis
Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Davis

You reminded me of the old story of a man cornered by a gang in Northern Ireland. They asked him “Are you a catholic or a protestant?”

He replied “I’m a Jew”

So they asked “Are you a catholic jew, or a protestant jew?”

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Davis

What you say has some truth, Jewish people are indeed practitioners of a particular religion and culture, but they did originate in the Middle East and are probably of semitic origin. Mixing with others and conversions have almost certainly diluted the orginal ethnicity of Jewish people as a whole, but this not the issue, as far as the Nazis were concerned it was a racial issue and that is what they based their actions upon, so they classed Jewish people as a race, making their actions racist. Incidentally, they seemed to have no real problems with others still living in the Middle East so were happy to make common cause with Palestinians, for example. What the Nazis’ real problem with Jewish people was is another matter – just scape-goats? Jealousy of the perceived success of Jewish-Germans? Who knows?

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Davis

If Judaism is a religion and not a race, are atheist Jews still Jewish? Or, to borrow from Jonathan Miller (who was both) are they merely Jew-ish?

If only it were all as simple as you seem to think!