Actor Whoopi Goldberg has been booted from her lucrative hit TV show for a fortnight after making shocking comments about the Holocaust, claiming it “was not about race”.
The US TV personality sparked outrage when she claimed on The View on Monday that the Nazi genocide of six million Jewish people before and during World War II involved “two white groups of people”.
The discussion led to a backlash against the 66-year-old Oscar-winning actress, forcing Goldberg to post an apology on Twitter.
But it wasn’t enough. On Tuesday (local time) ABC News president Kim Godwin announced Goldberg had been suspended from the show for two weeks.
“Effective immediately, I am suspending Whoopi Goldberg for two weeks for her wrong and hurtful comments,” Ms Godwin said in a statement.
Goldberg is estimated to earn up to $US6 million ($8.5 million) annually for her role on the hit talk show.
“While Whoopi has apologised, I’ve asked her to take time to reflect and learn about the impact of her comments,” Ms Godwin said.
“The entire ABC News organisation stands in solidarity with our Jewish colleagues, friends, family and communities.”
The controversy arose after Goldberg responded to a discussion about a US school’s decision to ban a novel based on Nazi concentration camps during WWII.
The book, Maus, depicts Jewish people as mice and Nazis as cats. The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was banned by a Tennessee school board late last month because it deemed its profanity, nudity and depiction of suicide inappropriate for 13-year-old students.
“I’m surprised that’s what made you uncomfortable, the fact that there was some nudity,” Goldberg told her View co-hosts.
“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.”
That drew a swift reaction from co-host Joy Behar, who said the Nazis had deemed Jewish people a different race. The Nazis believed themselves to be an Aryan “master race”.
“But it’s not about race. It’s not. It’s about man’s inhumanity to other man,” Goldberg said.
Another co-host, Ana Navarro, stepped in, saying “It’s about going after Jews and Gypsies and Roma” labelling the deadly persecution as “about white supremacy”.
“But these are two white groups of people,” Goldberg replied.
Another co-host Sara Haines also pointed out that Nazis “didn’t see them (Jews) as white”, to which Goldberg responded, “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 said.
The exchange drew swift condemnation, including from Jonathan Greenblatt, leader of the Anti-Defamation League. The Jewish anti-hate watchdog outlines the danger in distorting the Holocaust.
“No @WhoopiGoldberg, the #Holocaust was about the Nazi’s systematic annihilation of the Jewish people – who they deemed to be an inferior race,” Mr Greenblatt tweeted.
In her apology, Goldberg said she was sorry for the hurt she had caused.
“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,” she wrote.
She also responded to Mr Greenblatt.
“As [he] shared … ‘They dehumanised them and used this racist propaganda to justify slaughtering six million Jews. Holocaust distortion is dangerous’. I stand corrected,” she said.
However, Goldberg sparked further backlash after another lengthy attempted explanation of her controversial views on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
She said the Nazis had lied and actually had issues with ethnicity and not race.
“I think of race as being something that I can see… So, I see you and I know what race you are,” she told Colbert.
The pair’s extensive discussion on the issue was reportedly filmed before Goldberg issued her Twitter apology.