During the Thursday and Friday night broadcasts of his show, Fox News’ Sean Hannity not only provided a forum for a noted intolerant bigot to spew hate speech and bully a Muslim guest, but jumped on board the hate train himself and criticized and harangued the young woman. On Thursday night’s episode of Hannity, American University law student Saba Ahmed was brought on for an interview along with Brigitte Gabriel, founder of the anti-Islam group ACT! for America. The interview came about due to a verbal altercation that occurred between these two women at a Heritage Foundation panel discussion on Benghazi that took place June 16th.
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post described the Benghazi panel discussion as deteriorating “into the ugly taunting of a woman in the room who wore an Islamic head covering.” Ahmed had confronted the panel about their portrayal of all Muslims as being bad and not realizing that there are 8 million Muslims living in America. Per Milbank, it quickly went downhill, with Gabriel leading the charge. Essentially, Gabriel bullied and taunted Ahmed from the stage and essentially claimed that 300 million Muslims worldwide were bloodthirsty terrorists determined to kill Americans while dismissing the idea that any Muslims can be peaceful.
Politico’s media critic, Dylan Byers, criticized Milbank for his description of the event (Milbank was there; Byers only watched a short video clip of the event) and stated that Milbank had sensationalized the entire interaction. After what we saw transpire on Hannity the past two days, I am pretty sure Milbank provided an accurate description of the Heritage Foundation event. Also, Ahmed responded to Byers in an op-ed published by the Post, as Byers said that she did not seem troubled by the conversation with Gabriel and others on the panel. She pointedly stated that Byers was wrong. At the same time, she said that she is a Republican (conservatives have labeled her a Democratic plant) due to her conservative Islamic values.
That brings us back to the two days of unadulterated hate directed at Ahmed and all Muslims that was brought to us by Sean Hannity and Brigitte Gabriel. During Thursday night’s show, the interview quickly fell apart, as Hannity and Gabriel tag-teamed to personally tear apart Ahmed. It was an extremely disgusting display of xenophobia and bigotry.
Below is video of the segment, courtesy of Media Matters:
As you can see, Hannity and Gabriel bullied this woman and barely allowed her to speak. Meanwhile, they are essentially painting all Muslims as barbaric terrorists that need to be hunted down and killed. Gabriel accused Ahmed of just trying to grab the limelight at the event by asking an irrelevant question. When Ahmed tried to point out that her question was not irrelevant, she was shouted down again and again by Gabriel and Hannity. One sadly funny moment was when Hannity wanted to know why more moderate Muslims weren’t speaking out against radicals. When Ahmed tried to answer Hannity and point out that she is trying to do just that, Hannity cut her off.
On Friday, Hannity played an extended portion of the interview that wasn’t shown on Thursday. This was, if you can believe it, even worse than what was aired the night before. In this portion, Gabriel just continued to berate and bully Ahmed, continuously calling her a “liar” and a “terrorist sympathizer.” She even mocked Ahmed when Ahmed wanted to know why Gabriel was being so mean. Amazingly, Gabriel thought she was being civil and was only showing her “passion.”
This is ugly behavior at its worse, but then again, what else should we expect from Hannity. The fact that he is even giving Gabriel a forum to spew her hate speech, and endorsing it, is absolutely pathetic. Gabriel is the same person who said the following at a conference in 2007:
The difference, my friends, between Israel and the Arab world is the difference between civilization and barbarism. It’s the difference between good and evil…. this is what we’re witnessing in the Arabic world, They have no soul, they are dead set on killing and destruction. And in the name of something they call “Allah” which is very different from the God we believe….because our God is the God of love.
Brigitte Gabriel is just another charlatan who has has made an industry out of preaching hatred and intolerance. She has made an industry out of making conservatives feel good and right about their natural inclinations to hate anyone who is an ‘other.’ Especially when it comes to Muslims. It is all about whipping the far-right into a jingoistic frenzy. It is about embracing Islamophobia and alienating millions of Americans. And, in the end, it is about making the Republican Party less and less inclusive, assuring that it will kill itself rather than acknowledge how diverse this country has become.