On banning books and canceling people | Blogs


Last week there was a flurry of news and opinion pieces, and a larger flurry of social media commentary, about the ABC’s suspension of Whoopi Goldberg for her remarks on the Jewish Holocaust. in the hands of the Nazis. Before we dive into the subject, I want to put Goldberg’s remarks into context.

Goldberg is a regular on ABC’s morning show “The View,” in which a group of mostly left-leaning women come up with a slew of opinions that range, in my opinion, from flat-out false to outrageous. During the show that resulted in Goldberg’s suspension, they were discussing the McMinn County, Tennessee, school board‘s vote to remove a book from the college curriculum. This action itself had already attracted the attention of the states and the nation.

The book is a graphic novel, “Maus”, by Art Spiegelman, based on his father’s account of the massacre of Jews in Europe under the Nazis. The school board was concerned that it contained nudity unrelated to the history of the Holocaust itself. At least, that’s what the board said.

The council’s action was widely reported as a book ban. That’s not entirely correct. The actual vote was to remove the book from the required reading program as soon as a replacement is found, but to keep it in the school library, where it will continue to be accessible to students. I think it’s a bit different from a ban.

Anyway, that’s what the band was talking about on “The View.” During the discussion, Goldberg felt that the Holocaust was not about race. His reason? The Germans were “white”. The European Jews they murdered were “white”. Therefore, race was not implicated.

Joy Behar, another regular on the show, took issue with it. Behar, who is generally correct less often than a stopped clock, said the Nazis saw Jews as a separate race. For once, Behar got it right. The National Socialists considered the Jews to be a separate race. Hitler said so himself.

But Goldberg would not back down. She denounced the inhumanity of the Holocaust but insisted that because it was “white people doing it to white people” it was wrong but not racist. This got him suspended, despite an apology. But the controversy was not over. ABC is owned by Disney. Last year, when actress Gina Carano, who at the time starred on Star Wars spin-off “The Mandalorian,” posted an Instagram post that compared California’s COVID lockdowns to the Holocaust, Disney l dismissed. No reprieve. Termination.

The contrast between the two actions has not been lost on the Twitterverse. There was a flood of tweets lamenting the injustice done to Carano. Many have also called for Goldberg to be fired. “Liberal privilege is real,” said one. Carano herself took a higher route, calling on Goldberg to discuss the Holocaust with Jewish columnist Ben Shapiro, but not asking for her firing. “Conversation, not cancellation,” she wrote.

I think that’s all the context I need. I am ready to tell you what I think.

First, Goldberg’s mistake, I think, was to consider “race” only as skin color and to accept the now commonly held view on the left that only whites are capable of racism. I’ve written about this before, and I think that perception is downright wrong. But I don’t think Goldberg should be fired.

Carano is right. We need conversation, not cancellation. The best way to counter “bad” speech is to use good speech, not cancel out the “bad” speaker. Those who know Goldberg say she is not a hateful person. She really should discuss her views with Shapiro, who wrote a column roundly criticizing her comments. Better yet, the debate should be televised.

I don’t like canceling people. I don’t like banning books. As I wrote above, the McMinn County School Board didn’t exactly “ban” Spiegelman’s book. I can sympathize with the dilemma of a school board when it comes to deciding what is right or wrong for young people. Yet they should have no illusions about what is now available to students. “Maus” is probably tame compared to some of them.

But the banning and cancellation of books exist. Amazon promotes some books and won’t carry others, depending on the point of view. Some people are pushing for Joe Rogan’s podcast to be canceled because he hosted doctors with unconventional views on treating COVID.

Freedom of expression can sometimes be uncomfortable. But we need it.


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