Joy Behar: Rev. Wright's Anti-Italian Slurs a 'Compliment'

"The View’s" Joy Behar is so partisan as to spin an ethnic slur from Barack Obama’s pastor into a compliment. Discussing Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s "garlic nosed Italians" comments on the March 28 edition, Behar noted "he’s talking about the ancient Romans here," (apparently Reverend Wright did not know that Italy did not exist as a country until 1861) and claimed "the Roman nose has been celebrated in art and history...I don’t think it’s insulting." She also added that garlic in her diet helps with her "gorgeous complexion."

Elisabeth Hasselbeck compared it to the use of the nose as an anti-Semitic stereotype. Behar disagreed asserting "the Roman nose hasn’t been used against Italians the way the Jewish stereotype of a hook nose has been used against the Jews."

Also of note in the segment, Whoopi Goldberg compared Obama’s pastor problem to John F. Kennedy’s challenge to run for president as a Catholic. Barbara Walters immediately responded that the comparison was not valid.

"Because with John Kennedy there was religious bigotry in this country and there still is to some degree, but less. But you can not compare- we’re not talking about Barack Obama’s religion. We’re not saying that he shouldn’t be a Christian and so forth. We are talking about a mentor, and a mentor who does, who says very bigoted, racially discriminatory statements."

The entire transcript is below.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG: Reverend Wright. You know, he’s been in the news as of late. He’s been talking about all kinds of things and people have been asking about Obama a lot of questions, you know, what did he say? What the hey? And we’re going to ask him today. And the quote that got Elisabeth going this morning was which?

ELISABETH HASSELBECK: Well, he’s just, only because it’s another thing that we’ve heard about him and- in talking about Jesus and during the time of crucifixion he said Jesus’ enemies had their own opinions about him. He wrote, in a eulogy actually, he said "the Italians for the most part looked down their garlic noses at the Galileans." And I just- and he goes on again to then talk about, you know, white supremacy in the U.S. But I just think can we only be sensitive about certain comments? Or, you know, I think any sort of classification and bigotry towards any group is not okay, and we’re learning more and more things that he has said. And I think what then poses the challenge to Barack Obama, does he have to keep defending him time and time again?

GOLDBERG: It, it, it sort of takes you back to Kennedy because everyone was concerned about Kennedy’s religion and his spiritual leader who was the pope. You know, and again, Kennedy said "listen, I’m my own man. I will be making the decisions that need to be made based on what the country needs." And I think at some point, since Reverend Wright isn’t running for president, unless we missed something on CNN and that’s quite possible, it’s, you know, there are, there are idiotic statements made everyday from all colored people- not colored people- all people who- you know what I’m saying.

HASSELBECK: Yes, I know exactly what you’re saying.

BARBARA WALTERS: Well, I’m not sure it’s the same. I’m not, I’m not-

GOLDBERG: Why not?

WALTERS: Because with John Kennedy there was religious bigotry in this country and there still is to some degree, but less. But you can not compare- we’re not talking about Barack Obama’s religion. We’re not saying that he shouldn’t be a Christian and so forth. We are talking about a mentor, and a mentor who does, who says very bigoted, racially discriminatory statements. I don’t think that’s the same as when John Kennedy-

GOLDBERG: I do.

WALTERS: I know you do, but I, but I don’t.

GOLDBERG: I think you- that’s your right. But I’m just saying that these questions of someone’s mentor or the people in their lives. You know, again, if any of us actually had to be looked at with the people in our lives, none of us would pass the test. Yes, a lot of us have.

WALTERS: No wait, if I went to a church that, if I went to my church or temple where the preacher who is preaching, I mean we’ve had these arguments before and this is one, were preaching also teaching children, they are teaching children, and they said terrible things about black people, about Italians, about Jews, really derogatory bigoted things, I could not say "well, there are a lot of crazy people and-" I would feel that had to say.

JOY BEHAR: Wait, all institutional religion always has things in it-

GOLDBERG: Always.

BEHAR: -that are offensive to somebody.

WALTERS: Not that-

HASSELBECK: But you’re separating it, you’re separating it, this is a choice that he has made.

GOLDBERG: To Jews that’s what it was when we were kids. It was offensive to Jews when we were kids.

BEHAR: Exactly.

SHERRI SHEPHERD: Jeremiah Wright, in the twenty years that he’s been preaching has also taught children about community-

WALTERS: Well, we know about that. That’s what Barack Obama said.

SHEPHERD: Also saying, because you’re also saying because he’s teaching kids something negative and he’s teaching a lot of positive.

BEHAR: Well, you know, I come from an Italian family-

HASSELBECK: It doesn’t take away from the negative.

BEHAR: I’m from an Italian-American family so-

HASSELBECK: So am I.

BEHAR: So tell me what he said again. The garlic nosed- what was it?

HASSELBECK: He said "the Italians for the most part look down their garlic noses at the Galileans."

BEHAR: Okay, first of all, he’s talking about the ancient Romans here.

HASSELBECK: Yes he is.

BEHAR: And the Roman nose has been celebrated in art and history. [applause] So I don’t count it as, I don’t think it’s insulting.

HASSELBECK: I hear you. I’m saying this is by far-

BEHAR: Hey listen, if I didn’t have garlic in my diet, I would not have the gorgeous complexion that I have.

[laughter]

HASSELBECK: All I’m saying is and it is gorgeous. It is gorgeous.

WALTERS: It’s a compliment.

HASSELBECK: It is. I guess I should take it as a compliment then.

BEHAR: It’s a compliment!

HASSELBECK: I understand, but don’t you think that at some point you have to draw that line. Do you remember there was a time when there was propaganda put out, I believe of the Jewish man, the profile with the nose drawn and with unbelievably hateful comments alongside of it.

BEHAR: That’s different.

HASSELBECK: It isn’t. I think any time you take some, any time you take some-

BEHAR: I’ll tell you why it’s different.

HASSELBECK: -someone’s ethnicity, or race, or sex and use it in a way that classifies them unfairly, I think that there’s something wrong with that.

BEHAR: I don’t think that the Roman nose has been used against Italians the way the Jewish stereotype of a hook nose has been used against Jews. So we have to separate the two ideas.

HASSELBECK: So some are, some are okay?

BEHAR: Don’t flip those ideas.

HASSELBECK: Some are okay then?

BEHAR: Because one group has been oppressed for something like that and the other has not. It has been celebrated.

HASSELBECK: I think racism works in many directions. Not just one.

BEHAR: Well, what you’re doing is just sort of like making it all in one big batch, and it’s not.

WALTERS: Barack Obama has condemned, we can not forget what this man has said. He has condemned those remarks. He has in no way supported them, advocated them, stood behind them, or praised his reverend.

GOLDBERG: Right on.

HASSELBECK: Now he has

WALTERS: He said he has never considered- well, it didn’t come up before.

GOLDBERG: Elisabeth.

SHEPHERD: It didn’t come up Elisabeth.

GOLDBERG: Yeah that, you’re wrong because as soon as it happened he did that. You have to give him that.

HASSELBECK: As soon as it was made public.

WALTERS: No, let me finish. He has-

GOLDBERG: Go ahead.

WALTERS: He has- there are still questions which we will ask him about whether he should have gone further, whether he should still go further, but we can not let it stand that these are, that these are any statements or any sentiments of Senator Barack. That’s all I wanted to say.