September 27, 2007
To the Producers of the Hannity and Colmes show:
We were extremely dismayed to see the interview you did last night with City Councilmember John Liu. Your show is an example of the ill-informed campaign of hatred by a powerful corporate media outlet to discredit the KGIA and its founding principal Debbie Almontaser. As an editorial show, you have a right to establish a position; however, you have an obligation not to condone and perpetuate the misinformation that led to Debbie’s forced resignation. By doing so, we believe you are furthering a bigoted and hateful environment that jeopardizes the safety of the children attending KGIA.
If your show had done the necessary research and analysis, you would know that:
- Any reporter who links the school to the T-shirts is one who promotes lies and distortion. Debbie Almontaser did not endorse violence in any way and was not connected to the “t-shirts”. She did not do or say anything wrong. Additionally, the youth organization that made the t-shirts was never connected to the school.
- This incident is part of a relentless anti-Arab and anti-Muslim campaign against the school that has been led for the past seven months by virulently White supremacist and anti-immigrant organizations and individuals.
- Debbie Almontaser has an impeccable track record as an educator and human being who has devoted her life to building meaningful and sustained relationships among NYC’s many different communities.
Sean Hannity, who opposes the school, led the interview, disrespecting and interrupting Councilman Liu. Your approach revealed a lack of interest in having genuine and substantive dialogue about why so many individuals, organizations and elected officials believe Debbie Almontaser must be reinstated as principal of KGIA. Despite the ad hominem attacks and interruptions, Councilman Liu—one of the most ethical, thoughtful and eloquent members of the New York City Council—was able to point out a few very important things:
- There are many dual language programs throughout the City that are a vibrant part of our public school system, teaching students to be multicultural, bi-literate and bilingual. In addition to the clear benefits of learning a second language, dual language students tend to fare better academically than students who are in monolingual programs.
- The DOE had a responsibility to defend Debbie Almontaser against the smear campaign against her and the school and did not. They should do what is right and set an example for our children and the City by inviting Debbie to resume her position as principal of the school.
- Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, a well-respected political figure, spoke out in support of Debbie Almontaser and condemned the racist campaign against her.
We hope you will think about your tactics as interviewers and how you made it impossible to have an honest and intelligent discussion about one of the most profound examples of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry that our educational system has encountered.
~ Communities in Support of the Khalil Gibran International Academy