Russell Brand has publicly called Sean Hannity a terrorist. On the most recent episode of his YouTube channel show Trews, Brand reacted to a segment Hannity aired about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza titled Sympathy for the Terrorists. Hannity set the show up as if he were going to interview experts on the issue so that viewers could understand the complexity. Instead, Brand claimed, Hannity badgered his Palestinian-American guest and told him if he did not say Hamas was a terrorist organization then he could not speak. Brand ended his own show by saying that terrorists are defined as those who use intimidation to reach their goals. Then Brand asked, “Who in that situation was behaving like a terrorist, using intimidation, bullying, being unreasonable? Sean Hannity! That is where the terrorism is coming from.”
Hannity began his show by reading a statement from CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which as American taxpayers, asks the U.S. government to stop providing military support to Israel until the violence stops. Hannity’s first question is why CAIR did not mention Hamas and Palestinian terrorist actions. Some pointed out that Hannity missed the point about taxes. The U.S. government does not fund Hamas so American citizens do not have control over them, the dissenters claim. Hannity termed CAIR a “so-called civil rights group” and accused them of supporting terrorists with their self-described efforts to “end the Israeli violence.”
Brand first pointed out the visual propaganda surrounding Hannity: the police badge logo that lends an air of authority and the men in balaclavas firing rockets that do not look anything like Palestinians. It is clear where Hannity is coming from and where he wants the show to go, Brand seemed to suggest. He also pointed out it that it seemed as though Hannity wanted to berate his guests rather than to listen to anything they had to say.
First up was Yousef Munayyer of the Jerusalem Fund and Palestinian Center who was invited to Hannity’s show to explain the reasons Palestinians are unhappy. Hannity did not finish his initial question before he raised his voice, Brand said. Brand turned to the Hannity on his computer screen and said, “You’ve entered into aggression with your very first gambit.” No matter what information Munayyer tried to provide, Hannity appeared unhappy with his answers and cut him off, according to some viewers, and to Brand. When Munayyer attempted to describe some of the hardships the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip endure, Hannity told him he was making excuses and trying to rationalize the Palestian’s actions. Hannity then asked Munayyer if Hamas is a terrorist organization. Brand pointed out that Hannity refused to allow Munayyer to say anything but yes or no, and this action definitively ended Munayyer’s role in the discussion.
Brand said that Hannity is not interested in truth or discussion, but only about pushing his own agenda. Brand admitted the same can be said of him, but declared that his agenda is peace and called into question Hannity’s true goal. It seems that Hannity is only interested in furthering conflict, Brand implied. In that way, Russell Brand thinks Sean Hannity is a terrorist. Brand described Hannity’s world view, saying “Sean’s thinking, we want conflict. What things can I say to exacerbate conflict?” With a deep sigh Brand characterized Hannity, saying “Sean’s not a solutions-based guy.” If issues were truly discussed, Brand implied, practical solutions arrived at, and problems solved, Hannity would not have anything to rant about and would lose his $30 million per year earnings. It seems Brand feels that Hannity makes his living out of proselytizing with misinformation so his viewers see the world in a way that keeps them watching.
Brand seemed to suggest that Sean Hannity’s show on Fox is very much like a grocery store tabloid for political-minded Americans. It sensationalizes current issues, he seemed to imply, without giving any real substance or context. Brand went on to point out that Hannity makes bold statements while sounding angry and jabbing his finger at the guests and the audience. Many of Hannity’s viewers seem unaware that his tactics might cloud truth and analytical thought, Brand’s segment seemed to suggest.
Today, some are asking whether Brand’s low key humor and acute insights are enough to convince viewers to see past Hannity’s persona and think more deeply about his message. Other salute Hannity as a bold teller of truth in being unafraid to call Hamas a terrorist organization. Brand also pointed out Hannity’s similarity to the ken doll from Toy Story 3. He mimicked Hannity’s angry tone and jabbing. He tried to illustrate what he views as the lop-sided military capabilities of Israel and the Palestinians by describing a fight using a pin as a weapon. Brand then explained that the Palestinians are defending themselves with the only means they have and that terrorism is just a term to sway opinion without understanding the context of the conflict.
Some viewers commented afterward that during the show, it did not seem that Brand supported Palestine against Israel particularly, rather, he just seemed to want authentic communication that could actually lead to peace. Dr. Zhudi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy claims that Palestinians use children as shields. Brand ripped apart this idea, saying, “Those children are dying because there are missiles going off all over the place and Gaza’s only a little tiny area. …I think the key ingredient in the death of those children is the missile, not using them as shields, which I don’t think happens. That’s dehumanization. These children are the children of people – people like us. That’s not just saying people don’t love their children – that’s how genocides start.”
Russell Brand called Sean Hannity a terrorist after watching Hannity’s interview of Yousef Munayyer. Brand claims that people like Hannity work to advance conflict and violence and inhibit peace. Using language such as “terrorist” precludes real understanding, claims Brand. Brand would like to see peaceful solutions. He summed up his point, saying “There’s no objective terrorism. There’s just different perspectives of violence. No one should be using violence. But if you’ve got to judge violence pejoratively and negatively – and God knows we all should – then the people that are doing the most, and the most effective, violence surely are committing the greater crime.” Brand then added, “I don’t know, it’s a complicated issue.” Some say this comment is more than Sean Hannity is likely to admit. Others side with Hannity, and the U.N. and U.S. in calling Hamas a terror organization, pointing out that they have repeatedly violated many cease fire agreements over the years, including the one yesterday, which lasted just an hour and half before Hamas kidnapped an Israeli soldier. It is clear that Brand thinks Hannity is a terrorist, but there is much opposition to his opinion as emotions on both sides of the issue run high.
By: Rebecca Savastio
Photo Credit: Eva Rinaldi via Creative Commons