"When a cop pulls me over, I put my hands outside of the car. If I’m carrying a weapon, which I’m licensed to carry in New York, the first thing I tell the police officer is, 'Officer, I want you to know I have a legal firearm in the car.' First thing I say to the officer! He’ll ask, 'where is it?' And I’ll say, 'It’s in my holster.' And he says, ‘Alright, just keep your hands outside.’ That’s usually the protocol. And then, ‘Can I have your license and registration, please, move slowly.' And I often would even step out of the car, lift my shirt up so he can see where the gun is. And you handle it. ‘Yes, sir,’ 'no, sir,’ writes me a ticket, 'thank you, sir,’ and that’s it. You battle the issue in court!"
-- Sean Hannity, on his radio show Wednesday, explaining why we should cut police some slack
Y’know, all that’s left out of this Norman Rockwell encounter is the policeman offering tea and crumpets. And the officer asking Sean Hannity for his autograph – not because he’s Sean Hannity, mind you, but because that’s what police officers do with everyone who treats them with respect and courtesy, while sporting a concealed weapon.
Actually, after reading this quote from Mr. Hannity, my first reaction was just to leave the quote as is, because no comment really is necessary. Either you grasp instantly why it’s pathetic, thoughtless, disingenuous and racially divisive, or nothing anyone says will convince you otherwise.
But then I figured, what a waste of a Sean Hannity quote to leave untouched.
The starting point is that, of course, not even the most angry black person would likely make the argument that all policeman are trigger-happy towards white people.
Secondly, indeed it’s this very dichotomy of being warm and sweet and wonderful to white people, even those with concealed weapons, while profiling even the most innocent black person that’s at the heart of the issue.
Third, it’s hard to imagine anyone – a-n-y-o-n-e – who thinks that police don’t treat famous white national celebrities well. Then again, it’s hard to imagine anyone who doesn’t thinks that almost everybody treat white national celebrities well.
Fourth, amid all the outrage from Ferguson, Missouri, I’ve yet to hear any part of the discourse being that all policemen treat all people badly all the time. Only in the pathetic, thoughtless, disingenuous and racially-divisive world of Sean Hannity is it a concern.
Of course, it would be nice to ask Mr. Hannity if he thought the conversation would between him and the policeman would go the same if he was driving through a black, inner-city neighborhood late at night where gangs and drug dealing and shootings were common. But then, imagining Sean Hannity driving through a black neighborhood, even an upper-middleclass one and in broad daylight with a security detail and a camera crew, stretches the limits of fantasy.
Mind you, I’m not all that concerned about Sean Hannity saying the pathetic, thoughtless, disingenuous and racially-divisive thing he did. I expect that of Sean Hannity. Saying things that are pathetic, thoughtless, disingenuous and racially divisive is his Mother’s Milk, the nurturing that gives him a Reason to Broadcast. No, the problem is otherwise.
The problem is the people who listen to it and think it makes sense. People who are so small-minded, so blocked off from reality, so scared of anything different, so incapable to look at the world that exists around their little protective cocoon that Sean Hannity’s words are comforting to them.
I don’t think the vast majority of people are like that. I think that most people of any political stripe grasped the empty, eye-rolling pandering of Sean Hannity. But how unfortunate that “most” isn’t “all.”
A small mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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