Don’t miss today’s webinar with historian and Darwinian Racism author Richard Weikart and political scientist John West. (Register here.) It’s from 6 to 7 pm Pacific time, and it couldn’t be timelier. Why? Because of Whoopi Goldberg.
The flap she initiated on The View about whether Jews constitute a “race” has not subsided. She said the Holocaust wasn’t “about race” but rather “about man’s inhumanity to man.” That cost her a two-week suspension from the show. Some have said her comments amount to “downplaying” the Holocaust. John Podhoretz has an insightful analysis in the New York Post, noting that Goldberg changed her name from Caryn Johnson “to gain that extra frisson of non-white pride.” Podhoretz says, a bit melodramatically, that “Whoopi Goldberg should just drop the Goldberg now. There are dozens of survivors of the Holocaust who bear the name — and an untold number who died in the Shoah with it. Caryn Johnson stains them both.”
A Nation, Not a Race
I’m sure that Dr. Weikart and Dr. West will get into the subject. The reality is that thinking of Jews as a race is a relatively recent phenomenon, and it isn’t the Jews who came up with it. True, in Spain following the 1492 expulsion, Jewish families that had converted to Christianity were held in suspicion as possessing tainted “blood.” For the most part, though, before the 19th century and the rise of pseudoscientific racism, Christians in Europe regarded Judaism as a religion that could be shed, not as a racial identity that could not. Jews to this day regard themselves as a scattered nation, but that’s different from a race.
Weikart in his new book details the evolution in thinking that led from Darwin to Hitler to the Holocaust to present-day white nationalism. Goldberg is obviously wrong that the Holocaust wasn’t about “race” — in the minds of the Nazis, it certainly was. They weren’t “lying” about that, as she claims. They were in deadly earnest. But whether being Jewish is a racial identity in reality is very far from clear. By birth or conversion, there are African Jews, Asian Jews, Middle Eastern Jews, and European Jews, representing a range of skin colors and appearances. You can’t “convert” to another race. To insist on Judaism as a race is, in a sense, to follow the path of Darwinian racism.
Is it to “downplay” the Holocaust to say it wasn’t about “race”? It’s manifesty ignorant. But is murdering 6 million people over “race” more demonic than murdering 6 million people over, say, religion or nationality and not race? I can’t see that.