The July 25 edition of Hannity and Colmes marks the first and only moment Right Wing water-carrier Sean Hannity has ever expressed a concern about the wall between Church and State. Not surprisingly, Hannity's concerns centered not around a Christian religious institution, but a secular Arab language and culture school in Brooklyn. Hannity compared the school to a "madrassa," an Arabic word that literally means "school" but in the Fox News context has come to mean "a Muslim school that trains terrorists". Hannity was actually suggesting that The Khalil Gibran International Academy was a school for training terrorists, based on no more evidence than the cultural focus of the school's mission.
On the July 25 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity previewed a discussion of plans to operate an Arabic language and culture school in Brooklyn, New York, by saying that "if you live in New York City, guess what? Your tax dollars could be going to fund a madrassa," and that "the city that fell victim to the biggest terrorist attack in world history challenges the separation of church and state and using tax dollars to fund an all-Muslim school." During a later preview an on-air graphic read: "funding fatwa." In fact, the school's "advisory council" is made up of several Christian ministers, Jewish rabbis, and Muslim imams, according to a comment posted by Daniel Meeter, a member of the advisory council, on The New York Sun's website in response to an April 24 Sun article attacking the school. Co-host Alan Colmes also noted that the person after whom the school is named, author and artist Khalil Gibran, was a Maronite Christian, an eastern rite Lebanese sect in communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
According to the New York City schools website: "The Khalil Gibran International Academy's mission is to prepare students of diverse backgrounds for success in an increasingly global and interdependent society. Our focus is on holistic student development and rigorous academics."
What makes Hannity's criticism all the more maddening is that he himself attended Catholic schools throughout his youth, including Sacred Heart Seminary and the now defunct St. Pius X Prepatory Seminary, which included two years of junior college schooling along with high school. The simple fact is that Hannity doesn't believe that Arabs or Muslims are entitled to the same religious freedoms white people or Christians are, and if he needs to, he will use his media venue to infringe upon the religious freedom of others.
Nevermind that our government suffers from a lack of Arabic language specialists, and that a recent Pew poll showed that knowledge of Islam and contact with Muslims drastically affects people's perception of Islam and its adherents. Hannity's concern is not safety or security, but "purity". His dedication to preserving what he sees as America's cultural heritage, a heritage defined by whiteness, Christianity, heterosexuality, and a narrow understanding of masculinity trumps any obligation he feels he might have to tell his viewers the truth, or to base his opinions on any empirical evidence. And in this way, Hannity is not so different from his admirers.