The lesson from the Whoopi mess we should be learning
ยท Feb 7, 2022 ยท NottheBee.com

Last week, the pop *political* culture and social media lost its mind when actress Whoopi Goldberg, a woman whose mouth works at a pace much faster and sharper than her mind, shared her egregiously uninformed opinion that the Holocaust wasn't about race.

Now as every student even peripherally familiar with the history of Nazism and Adolf Hitler understands, the masterminds of the Third Reich not only saw the Jews as a race, they saw them as a distinctly inferior race. Piggybacking on the Darwinian fairy tale that taught some races of man were more evolved than others (the founder of the evolutionary theory wrote in his "Descent of Man" that the "negroes" were closer to gorillas than Caucasians), Hitler advocated that to assist Germany's rise to global preeminence, the Aryan "master race" have its bloodlines purified. To facilitate that objective, as well as to scapegoat the social problems that had afflicted the "Fatherland," Hitler's final solution was the genocidal extermination of the entire Jewish race.

How Whoopi Goldberg could have lived as long as she has lived, fraternized in the circles she has been accustomed to, been elevated and promoted as some kind of "thought leader" for women, and not have ever heard of or learned these realities is simply astounding. In fact, from my seat, that is the real issue that we should be talking about. Let me explain.

In the immediate aftermath of Goldberg's silly comment, it seemed like she did the right thing. She issued an apology that seemed thorough and heartfelt.

Then, in some bizarre scene of entertainment world penitence, Whoopi paraded onto what is billed as a late-night comedy show with Stephen Colbert to talk about the whole thing. And in the course of that appearance, she undermined everything her apology said and doubled down on the ignorance:

The result was Whoopi being hoisted on her own graceless petard. ABC News president Kim Godwin suspended her for two weeks and told her to spend that time reflecting and learning what she did wrong. A significant portion of the country laughed hysterically at the fact that one of the progressive purveyors of cancel culture was condescendingly given the dunce cap herself and told to go sit in the corner. Others are outraged over the censure, suggesting it is an arbitrary and capricious overreaction. Whoopi seems to agree with them, threatening to resign over the incident.

For my part, I think it's much better for our civilization to offer forgiveness and model grace. Yes, even to those who have not shown the same themselves (I'm pretty sure Jesus said something about that at one point). Specifically in this case, it's also important to note that regardless of the current dust-up, Whoopi's privilege has her well-positioned and will protect her from any truly devastating or long-term effects of her error.

This is why I'm not nearly as worked up over the controversy as I am the larger question of how and why our society continues to elevate celebrities as legitimate voices on matters of history, culture, religion, ethics, politics, science, law, and government.

We've all seen the video clip of LeBron James trying to pretend that he's read, or worse that he actually understands, Malcolm X's book. You don't have to be a professional educator to know that is the face and those are the meanderings of a dude who didn't do his homework before showing up to class. Now, that doesn't mean LeBron can't have uninformed opinions on issues; it just means our culture should pay as much attention to them as we do other uninformed people.

Whoopi Goldberg was great in Ghost and Sister Act. But she is, by all accounts, a fairly unintelligent celebrity who doesn't even take the time to read through the cue cards before the show, as evidenced by the halting and awkward introductions of topics she presents. What's worse, it is clear she very rarely has taken the time to do even a modicum of research on the topic she's supposed to be discussing.

If that seems unfair, recognize the topic that "The View" ladies were discussing when Whoopi shared her notorious race comments was the controversy of the Tennessee school banning the Holocaust book, "Maus." Here's the epigraph of that very book, presented on the front page to introduce the reader to the theme:

Is it apparently too much to ask for the very people discussing a banned work of literature to even look at the book before opining? It's this toleration of ignorance for the sake of fame, this preference of celebrity over logical competence, and this worship of presentation over substance that represents a far graver danger to the survival of our civilization than Whoopi Goldberg making a fool of herself.

The problem is we'll spend all our time focusing on the latter while completely ignoring the former.


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