Rosie O'Donnell on Egypt: America Has an 'Ethnocentric Blind Spot'

The potentially democratic developments in Egypt inspired geopolitical musings from Rosie O'Donnell on her Sirius/XM radio show on Thursday. Predictably, what most offends Rosie in the current environment is her usual emphasis: America should never lecture about democracy and so on, because we aren't better than anyone else:

When we only judge other nations about their human-rights violations and don't really look at our own, when we don't spend the time on the news talking about the problems in American culture and what the results of them have been on our children, on our society...Things like the homeless rate, the divorce rate...corporate corruption...what we are guilty of here. We only look at someone else and say, 'Look at what's wrong with their culture'...I think it puts us in a really ethnocentric blind spot.

Rosie O'Donnell is now listing divorce and homelessness in the category of "human rights violations" -- defining "rights" down to get over our "really ethnocentric blind spot." (Would this make Rosie's "divorce" from Kelly Carpenter a human-rights violation?)

Her producer Bobby Pearce tried to echo her, that supporting democracy is arrogant: "It's a sticky situation for us to impose our feelings about...religion, sex, whatever, on another country when they're thousands of years older than us and they have their cultures. They have their way of living." But her executive producer Janette Barber tried to insist that perhaps the Muslim countries are a little more disrespectful of women than America, and O'Donnell went right back to ripping America: 

BARBER: ...If you read Infidel...if you read Honeymoon in Tehran, if you read some of the books [by] women who are living in those [Islamic] countries--
 
O'DONNELL: If you read some of the books on child abuse in America, if you read some of the books on children who are imprisoned in America and sold as sex slaves in America...you would feel the same way about America. 

It's too bad that didn't develop into a discussion of Planned Parenthood and the video stings. O'Donnell's aversion to America did actually lead her to denounce apparently ethnocentric American reporters on the scene in Egypt:

O'DONNELL: I think there's some kind of arrogance about American reporters or even I'm considering Christiane Amanpour American even though she's British, correct?  To go as a[n] American-looking white Anglo-Saxon person in the middle of this mob in the Mideast and expect that you're going to get the kind of protection that your celebrity affords you in America, when America is mildly despised in the region. I think it's sort of surprising to me.
 
BARBER: That they're there, or--?
 
O'DONNELL: Well, that they're surprised that they're getting beat up or harassed. 

I don't think reporters think celebrity will protect them, and I'm not sure they're surprised that it could turn violent. They do think of themselves as merely peaceful, nonpartisan observers and can't imagine why anyone would have a beef with that vision of themselves. They also probably don't really think of themselves primarly as Americans, or at least as some sort of cogs in the American military-industrial complex, which might be how they might be perceived in the Middle East. But it's fascinating that Rosie thinks this is about race, about being white in a dark-skinned crowd, that she imagines Anderson Cooper would think "hey, I'm white, I'll be protected"?

Brian Maloney at Radio Equalizer liked the check on media arrogance. This whole lecture in Rosie O'Donnell Geopolitics should cause us to remember (via Eyeblast) that she's declared that her grade point average was 1.62, a D-minus average.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis