Hey, I'm a multi-culturalist. I'm happy to see people observing their various religious holidays, from Christmas to Chanukah to Ramadan. But somehow, my multicultural enthusiasms run out of steam when it comes to . . . condoning the sacking of foreign embassies.
Not Julian Phillips. The co-host of Fox & Friends Weekend blithely condoned the current rioting and burning of foreign embassies around the world by Muslims angered by depictions of the Prophet Mohammed. His explanation-by-way-of-excuse: "different religion, different culture."
In the course of the show's opening segment, Fox's Yasmina Ykelenstam reported live from Beirut, where rioters had set fire to the Danish embassy. She reported that there has been violence across the city, including at the Norwegian embassy, and cars smashed and burned. Back in the studio, Kiran Chetry reported that in Damascus, Syria, rioters had also set fire to the Danish embassy.
Co-host Page Hopkins then opined: "I've seen these cartoons and don't find them that offensive when you see other things that are depicted." Hopkins was presumably referring, among other things, to the kind of vile anti-Semitic cartoons that, as here, are frequently published in the Arab media.
Phillips took exception to Hopkins' remarks: "Oh, Page. You put a bomb on the top of Jesus and I'm offended."
Hopkins: "I am too, but does it incite that kind of violence in the Christian community?"
That's when Phillips began his multi-culti riff:
"You can't compare apples and oranges. We're two different kinds of people. It's blasphemy to even show the Prophet Mohammed. This is how they're responding, hey," literally shrugging it off.
Page, seemingly sensing that she might have put her foot in it with her remark that she didn't find the cartoons "that offensive," decided to 'revise and extend her remarks' in these terms:
"Just to clear up what I said. It is offensive to depict Mohammed in a comic. However, what I was trying to say was I think the reaction is really upsetting. There's a double standard here, we're all tip-toeing around it. Jesus is depicted in blasphemous ways all the time in the media, and Christians are made fun of all the time and you never get this kind of outcry."
Phillips again rode to the rioters defense: "As I said, it's two different religions, two different cultures."
Chetry put things in proper perspective: "It's a double standard. You can't condone this kind of violence."
Finkelstein lives in Ithaca, NY, where he hosts the local TV show "Right Angle." Email him at: email@example.com