Time TV writer James Poniewozik wrote on his blog Tuned In on Wednesday that he was impressed that Brit Hume wasn’t backing down on his Tiger Woods remarks, but he really wasn’t accepting Hume’s claim that talking about Jesus is much more controversial than talking about Buddha:
If you believe your religion is superior and want to stand by the argument, fine. But crying anti-Christian persecution when you're criticized for making that case on a news show? Get off the cross.
Did Hume literally suggest he was being crucified? No. Poniewozik was responding to an interview Hume granted to D.C. all-news radio station WTOP, in which he suggested "Jesus Christ" could be the two most controversial words in the English language (at the very end of the interview).
He did not complain about his own persecution. He only said that it wouldn't be as controversial to say Woods should be a better Buddhist. Poniewozik's headline also overplayed Hume's remarks: "Brit Hume: Stop Persecuting Me for Trying to Convert Tiger." Poniewozik wrote:
Personally, as a half-Catholic-half-Jewish-pretty-much-totally-secular nonbeliever, I reject Hume's suggestion that Christians are uniquely equipped to overcome their failings and become better people. But you know what, he believes it, he's a commentator now, and he's free to say it. I am not a religious judge. (That is to say, I am not Brit Hume.) And I at least admire his sticking to his argument rather than walking it back with some publicist-approved damage control.
What is ridiculous, though, is Hume's implication that he's being picked on solely because he's a Christian.
After addressing the controversy and explaining himself to the WTOP hosts, Hume goes on to say that he doesn't believe his remarks would be as controversial if he had espoused another religion. Specifically, he said, if he had instead advised Tiger to instead deepen his commitment to Buddhism, it would not have been nearly as controversial.
Um, you're right, Brit, it wouldn't have: because then you wouldn't have been trying to convert him. That's going to bother people whatever religion you're advocating. You would think at least that Hume would acknowledge that people were offended that he was arguing, on a news program, that his own religion was better than Woods'. Instead, he claimed, in pretty uncertain terms, that he was the victim of P.C. persecution of Christianity (a rhetorical tactic he must have picked up at the "war on Christmas" network). "You could argue," he said, "that the most controversial words in the English language are 'Jesus Christ.'"
Give me a break. (And not just because, say, "Allah akbar" gives them a run for their money. Or because "Christ" is arguably Latin/Greek.) The fact that there are actual persecuted Christians in the world makes it even more obnoxious that Hume would try to latch on a bogus culture-war flashpoint to defend his remarks.
Once again, Poniewozik is exaggerating to suggest that Hume would equate the e-mail he's getting to Jesus on the cross or perscuted Christians in China or other countries.