Whoopi Goldberg’s comments receive backlash

On a recent episode of the American talk show The View, panellist Whoopi Goldberg claimed that the Holocaust, the systematic killing of Jewish people under Nazi rule, was not related to issues of race. Critics were appalled and baffled. Goldberg was eventually suspended for two weeks. 

The comments made by Goldberg were wrong and historically inaccurate at best, and she should have known better. But the real issue is not the content of her remarks, because every person with a working knowledge of history has been able to point out Goldberg’s mistake. Now, a more fruitful conversation can occur where we discuss standards for forgiveness and redemption for people in the public eye. 

In society’s quest to dichotomize every news story, a standard has been set that requires those who engage in wrong thinking, or make mistakes, to be ousted from the spotlight. We lovingly call this “cancel culture.” But as many fans of Whoopi Goldberg and The View have become aware of this week, it is one thing to silence people with whom you disagree based on their opinion, and another thing entirely to hold to this standard even when people you love may be left out in the cold. 

I’m old enough to remember when Kevin Hart was given the opportunity to host the 2019 Oscars. The date and the venue were set. It was Hart’s lifelong dream. His big moment. A sign that he had finally “made it” in cutthroat Hollywood. But some weeks before the big night, some of Hart’s old tweets emerged where he used some anti-gay slurs. The tweets are by no means good or funny, which makes this situation relevant to our discussion of forgiveness. 

Hart quickly emerged as the target of tweets and news stories that called for his Oscar appearance to be cancelled. He stepped down and then apologized. The critics remained as loud as ever, and the Oscars proceeded with no host. 

It’s not the first and it won’t be the last of online “cancelling” campaigns. James Gunn and Gina Carano spring to mind. Keep in mind you don’t have to agree with these people, about their controversial statements or, for that matter, anything they’ve ever said. But if people feel they have made an error, and apologize sincerely, that must not go unnoticed. There must be redemption. 

This standard of redemption must be applied equally. If Whoopi Goldberg can make an apology, vanish from airwaves for two weeks, and return relatively unscathed, this path must be available to people like Kevin Hart. 

I don’t believe that Whoopi Goldberg should be fired from The View. She made an uneducated comment that offended many. She apologized sincerely and was educated on the matter by the Anti-Defamation League’s CEO. Goldberg made a mistake, as we all have on numerous occasions. Perhaps we benefit from ours not happening in front of millions of people on live television. 

Now let’s apply this standard in the future and stop treating people as the media did Kevin Hart. We are all flawed people, and those flaws sometimes rise to the surface. But that doesn’t mean we should be doomed forever, forced to never live out our dreams. Forgiveness, not cancel culture, should be at the heart of these discussions. 

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