To get directly to the question posed in the title of this little essay, while one may not be able to unabashedly affirm the notion that Whoopi Goldberg is the dumbest woman in America, one can certainly make a case for it.
Whoopi Goldberg is one of the most recognizable hosts of the TV show The View on ABC. And just the other day, while pontificating on the Holocaust, of all things, she managed to reach a new level of vacuousness.
The View tries to pass itself off as a gathering of insightful and caring women commenting on the issues of the day. In fact, it is a collection of poorly educated and loud-mouthed lunkheads, ideologically Progressive all, who bleat their inanities while beating up on a lone representative of a conservative viewpoint.
This time, though, even her Progressive buddies are slinking into the shadows in an effort to avoid the blowback from her comments about the Holocaust, most particularly her ludicrous suggestion that the coordinated, Wannsee Conference-approved plan to annihilate the entire Jewish population of Europe had nothing to do with race.
Just to put all of this in context, the subject of the episode in which Goldberg displays her ignorance is the removal of the Art Spiegelman graphic novel Maus from the eighth-grade curriculum in McMinn County, TN, by the local school board.
Their reason for censoring it: bad words and naked animals.
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Yes, the words “bitch” and “God-damn” appear, as do animals – the Jews are figuratively depicted as mice, the Germans as cats, the Poles as pigs, the Americans as dogs, and the Brits as Fish. And yes, sometimes they are without clothes. Compared to the crazed brutality of the Holocaust and the lessons of that dark time, about which students today need to learn, such school board concerns don’t even rise to the level of triviality.
If one is going to represent the Holocaust, either in history or in literature, one is likely to encounter some “bad words” during the shootings, burnings, gassings, hangings, rapes, and starvings. There’s no such thing as an Emily Post Ettiquette portrayal of the Holocaust.
Trust me, dollars to doughnuts the eighth-grade students in McMinn County have encountered “bad words” far worse than what these school board members seek to protect them from, and no doubt they have seen many naked animals throughout their lives.
Fact is, Maus is both historically accurate and a literary masterstroke that tells the story of the son of a Holocaust survivor who gets his father – finally – to share his World War II experiences. It is the only graphic novel to have won the Pulitzer Prize.
It shows graphically, pun intended, how the experience of surviving an extermination camp continues to do violence to its victims long after peace treaties are signed, and new generations are being born. The novel explicitly shows how the Holocaust affects not only the direct victims who survived, but their children as well.
So that’s the context that leads Whoopi to pedantically pronounce that the Holocaust was not about race. It simply wasn’t about race. When pressed, she said “It’s about man’s inhumanity to man.”
That sort of vague shibboleth apparently is what passes for insight and understanding in Whoopi’s cream puff world.
Let me help her by finishing what could have been a coherent thought: “The Holocaust is about man’s inhumanity to man because of race.
You see, for Whoopi, race is only about black and white. She even says a moment later that the Holocaust was just a bunch of white guys going after a bunch of other white guys. Hence, it cannot be about race.
Had she bothered to take a look at what nominally was the subject of the show, the graphic novel Maus, she would have seen at the top of the copyright page a quote from Adolf Hitler that says: “The Jews are undoubtedly a race, but they are not human.”
A history lesson for Whoopi – not that she’ll see this or would bother to read it were it placed in front of her. Regardless, history is required when ignorance prevails.
In 1798 Thomas Malthus advocates the theory that the food supply grows arithmetically while generational births increase exponentially. Thus, the number of mouths to be fed will soon outstrip the capability of feeding those mouths. Starvation, he insists, is inevitably on the horizon.
In the 1870s the English philosopher Herbert Spencer publishes his ideas that man and society follow the cold hard rules of science, “not the will of a caring, almighty God.” It is he who popularizes the slogan of the “survival of the fittest.”
Now, put those together with Charles Darwin’s 1859 Origin of Species. Darwin confirms that he adopts Malthus in his thinking, and that growing life populations will meet shortages of food and risk starvation. Hence, it is those species which best are able to adapt and feed themselves that are able to pass on their genes to future generations through a process of “natural selection.”
Put the three together and what you have is a movement that comes to be known as “social Darwinism” – which, by the way, is a term Darwin himself never used.
The goal, according to social Darwinians, is to survive in a world of an ever-growing population competing for a shrinking supply of food and other goods. In such a world, one might reasonably ask, why protect the weak and useless? Wars and famine are seen by social Darwinians as real-world correctives to the imbalance between the needs of the living and the limited resources to meet those needs.
A quick aside: this is actually the issue William Jennings Bryan wants to confront when he takes on the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial in Dayton, TN, all in an effort to warn Americans to the dangers of a social Darwinian approach to human life. But then, Clarence Darrow sidetracked him into a confrontation on the Bible.
A powerful new notion begins to develop that the way to improve prospects for the human race, a way that helps avoid war and want, is the development of science. However, the notion of science that is coming to rule the day has limitations and is flawed.
Francis J. Galton, who happens to be Darwin’s younger half cousin, uses logic and mathematics to map out human characteristics in an effort to improve human lives. What he concludes, anticipating later genetic theory, is that it is possible to expand throughout the populace the good characteristics of humans while eliminating those characteristics that are harmful. Farmers call it good husbandry.
He believed that through science, we can create a citizenry of the healthy and the happy and the law-abiding. However, he also thought that those with undesirable traits, if allowed to mate with those with superior traits, will bring all of society down to a lower level.
He develops a term for this new science by combining the Greek word for well with the Greek word for life – hence is born the new science of Eugenics, which he interprets as “well-born.”
This is science at work. In particular, those who call themselves Progressives attach themselves to these new ideas.
Here’s the science from their perspective: By prohibiting eugenically flawed unions and promoting well-born partners, Galton believes “what Nature does blindly, slowly and ruthlessly, man may do providently, quickly and kindly.”
Putting the “well-born” together to breed a superior form of human life is known as “positive eugenics.” There soon developed, though, what came to be known as “negative eugenics,” which is the elimination of those with inferior qualities from the gene pool.
Contemporaneously, there are equally “scientific” theories from Arthur de Gobineau, Louis Agassiz, and Thomas Huxley introducing the idea of a hierarchy of races, with the Nordic peoples at the highest pinnacle in terms of intellect and moral character, the Alpine middle Europeans a lesser type, and the Mediterranean race around the Mediterranean Sea near the bottom of the racial ladder.
These ideas are wildly popular in the United States, as articulated by Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard. As a result, the U.S. develops a draconian policy on immigration intended to keep the inferior racial types out of the country.
In fact, Grant advocates for the use of eliminationist eugenics to extricate from society “an ever widening circle of social discards, beginning always with the criminal, the diseased, and the insane. … and perhaps ultimately to [eliminating] worthless race types.”
This is science, as conceived by Progressives at the time. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was a Progressive eugenicist who sees abortion as a means of eliminating worthless types from American society.
In turn, Adolf Hitler in Germany is mightily impressed with the eugenicist work being done in America. In Mein Kampf, Hitler recites social Darwinian principles and condemns the notion of charity for the poor and the weak. He also, in that same work, praises U.S. policies of racial segregation and anti-miscegenation laws, all of which he sees as attempts by the Americans to ensure their quest for “Nordic purity.”
Hitler uses the race laws in the United States as a model for his own 1935 Nuremberg Race Laws, which sought to regulate and limit Jewish interactions with the larger German populace in order to preserve Aryan purity among the German people. He believes, ultimately, that the Nordic blood in England, northern France and North America “will eventually go with us to reorganize the world.”
The precedent for eliminationist eugenics is already present four years before the publication of Mein Kampf in the form of a German lawyer and a German doctor publishing a work that promotes the extermination of “life unworthy of life” (in German, Lebensunwertes Leben). The good doctor argues, on medical grounds, for the outright killing of the feebleminded and infirm. The Nazi T-4 program makes the doctor’s suggestion a reality.
And all in the name of science.
Indeed, in Mein Kampf Hitler justified his exterminationist race-hatred by medicalizing it. According to Edwin Black in his book, War Against the Weak, “Hitler was able to recruit more followers among reasonable Germans by claiming that science was on his side.”
All that is left is for Jews, as a race, to be labelled among those unworthy of life. Well, to start, the Nazis had centuries of hate-filled, anti-Jewish thought and actions from which to draw inspiration.
All it needs is a little extra push, which is precisely what Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, does with films like The Eternal Jew, in which he portrays Jews as being like rats. For health reasons, we eliminate rats, don’t we? So, too, should we eliminate the Jews to protect the social health of Germany and its racial purity.
So yes, Whoopi, the Holocaust is about race. It is all about race.
Anthony Esolen, in his most recent American Greatness article, perceptively writes: “[W]hen you abandon both tradition and traditional learning, when you assume the modernist’s scorn for the past, [y]ou revert, in both matter and manner, to ignorance.”
Thus, why should I be surprised at Whoopi Goldberg’s ignorance. Whoopi is the same savant who once argued that Dr. Jill Biden would be an excellent choice for Surgeon General. Why? Because “she’s a hell of a doctor. She’s an amazing doctor.”
Just another example of her ideological bias thoroughly outstripping whatever rudimentary good judgment may still exist in her groping, gossamery brain.
Please, Whoopi. Please, for all of us, read a book.
By Ron Nutter
Ron Nutter is a regular contributor to The Blue State Conservative, and retired college professor of Philosophy and Religion living in a cabin on a mountain in Western North Carolina with his retired physician wife, and he still reads voraciously.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Blue State Conservative. The BSC is not responsible for, and does not verify the accuracy of, any information presented.
Featured photo by Daniel Langer, dlanger on flickr.com. Copyright is held by Daniel Langer and Comic Relief, Inc., CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons