It seems the topic on everyone’s mind is the civil unrest and discussion of race that has been sparked after the wrongful death of Minneapolis, Minnesota resident George Floyd, while in police custody in late May.
And so it is no surprise that Sean Hannity, a national news reporter and talk show host for Fox News, would invite guests to speak about what is going on. However, I don’t anyone quite anticipated the screaming match and argument that ensued on Tuesday.
Hannity had invited well-known Harvard law professor Cornel West and successful civil rights attorney Leo Terrell to speak with him for a time during his Tuesday’s segment.
It was supposed to be a calm and collected discussion of two prominent black experts in their field about what is going on in our nation, including calls for “defunding” the police, our incompetent leaders, and urban violence.
But things quickly went awry.
Hannity began the discussion by talking about all the wrongs done to police officers and their departments in recent weeks. He noted that since the rioting and unrest began in late May, over 700 police officers have been injured, some seriously and even fatally in the line of duty.
Hannity then transitioned to the call by many Democratic leaders to “defund” and disband the police departments of several of our larger and populated cities.
He asked the two men, “Do you support this madness of defunding the police?”
West began, momentarily drawing attention to the morning’s funeral service for George Floyd. He noted that the event, which was held in Houston, made for “a very heavy day for many of us.”
Then the professor started speaking of the civil unrest going on and the problems he believed to be at the root of it all. He urged that the real problem is run-down schools in low-income neighborhoods and a police department that aren’t really held accountable to anyone. he said, “I’m sorry, but there has to be democratic control over the police.”
To this, Hannity reminded West that Democrats have had control of these police forces for some time. He specifically noted that cities like Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, all of which have been hard hit by looting, rioting, and a supposed incompetent police force, had been Democrat ruled for decades now.
Now, up until right after Hannity mentions this, things have gone relatively smoothly.
However, it is then that Terrell decides to speak his mind, saying that West hadn’t made any coherent point and only seemed to be pushing the typical “old talking points” of the Democrats. And West doesn’t take it well. From then on out, the two are nearly at each other’s throats, talking over one another and even calling names.
Terrell says, “I will speak to you, black man to a black man. There is looting going on, and you tried – it is my turn. You are trying to conflate protesting and police misconduct. And shame on you. You are absolutely wrong.”
During Terrell’s entire less than a minute speech, West is trying to talk over him. At one point, West refers to Terrell as “brother,” which Terrell wants no part of. So he says, “You’re not my brother,” and adds that West’s opinion is doing nothing but hurting other black people.
Of course, West responds, asking, “Are you a Christian? Are you a Christian too? Then check yourself, negro!”
To this, Terrell visibly is taken aback, shocked at the other man’s words. He then says, “Oh, my god – you have lost control. You are a dinosaur. You have lost it, sir. I am not part of your group. I am not part of your group. You have lost it, you are a dinosaur. You are wrong.”
The two continue in this manner for several more minutes, with a few ‘who do you think you are’s’ from West and a couple of comments about West being on the “fringe” of the party group from Terrell.
Hannity, after trying to settle things down once with no success, is basically forced to sit back and take it all in, patiently waiting for the commercial break. He leaves his audience with an apology, saying, “A little out of control, I tried.”
The lesson from this whole incident: the national discussion going on right now has nothing to do with race. Instead, it is a distinction of parties, and within even those, the lines are not drawn evenly.