Whoopi Goldberg is facing a backlash after she said on a US talk show that the Holocaust “was not about race”.
The actress and television personality said on ABC’s The View that the Nazi genocide of the Jews involved “two groups of white people”.
Critics pointed out that Hitler himself had vented his hatred of the Jews in racial terms. She later apologised.
The Nazis, who believed themselves an Aryan “master race”, murdered six million Jews in the Holocaust.
Monday’s discussion was sparked by a Tennessee school board’s ban of a graphic novel about Nazi death camps during World War Two.
Maus, which depicts Jews as mice and Nazis as cats, has won a number of literary awards.
The school board said it banned the book because its profanity, nudity and depiction of suicide was inappropriate for 13-year-olds.
Goldberg, a 66-year-old Oscar-winning actress who has been on The View since 2007, told her co-hosts: “I’m surprised that’s what made you uncomfortable, the fact that there was some nudity.
“I mean, it’s about the Holocaust, the killing of six million people, but that didn’t bother you?
“If you’re going to do this, then let’s be truthful about it. Because the Holocaust isn’t about race. No, it’s not about race.”
Co-host Joy Behar pointed out that the Nazis said the Jews were a different race.
Goldberg said: “But it’s not about race. It’s not. It’s about man’s inhumanity to other man.”
“But it’s about white supremacy,” responded co-host Ana Navarro. “It’s about going after Jews and Gypsies and Roma.”
“But these are two white groups of people,” countered Goldberg.
Co-host Sara Haines pointed out that the Nazis “didn’t see them as white”.
Goldberg continued: “But you’re missing the point! The minute you turn it into race, it goes down this alley. Let’s talk about it for what it is. It’s how people treat each other. It’s a problem.”
She nodded to someone behind the camera as the show’s theme music played to signal an ad break.
Critics blasted the show for platforming dangerous disinformation.
Jonathan Greenblatt, leader of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish anti-hate watchdog, tweeted: “No @WhoopiGoldberg, the #Holocaust was about the Nazi’s systematic annihilation of the Jewish people – who they deemed to be an inferior race.
“They dehumanised them and used this racist propaganda to justify slaughtering six million Jews. Holocaust distortion is dangerous.”
Meghan McCain, a former co-host of the The View, tweeted: “Antisemitism is a cancer and a poison that is increasingly excused in our culture and television – and permeates spaces that should shock us all.”
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro tweeted a quote from Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, who wrote in Mein Kampf: “Is not their very existence founded on one great lie, namely, that they are a religious community, whereas in reality they are a race?”
The US Holocaust Museum, in what was interpreted as a subtweet at Goldberg, wrote: “Racism was central to Nazi ideology. Jews were not defined by religion, but by race. Nazi racist beliefs fuelled genocide and mass murder.”
Amid growing criticism, Goldberg later apologised.
“On today’s show, I said the Holocaust ‘is not about race, but about man’s inhumanity to man’. I should have said it is about both,” Goldberg wrote in a Twitter post.
“The Jewish people around the world have always had my support and that will never waiver. I’m sorry for the hurt I have caused,” she added.