Marc Lamont Hill spoke publicly on Friday morning on The Breakfast Club for the first time since being let go by CNN following his controversial speech to the United Nations.
Hill, a professor of media studies at Temple University, was speaking before the U.N.’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People when he urged a boycott and divestment from Israel in response to accusations of the country depriving Palestinians of basic human rights.
“We have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words but to commit to political action, grass-roots action, local action and international action that will give us what justice requires and that is a free Palestine from the river to the sea,” Hill said.
It’s that “river to the sea” line that caused the majority of his problems, as the phrase became popular with terrorist groups such as Hamas. Here are three things we learned from his appearance:
According to Hill, CNN had a problem with his entire speech, not just the “river to the sea” line
“I got a call the next morning from CNN and they said the speech was not in line with their values,” Hill told the Crew. “I said ‘which part of the speech?’ and they didn’t tell me that. They just said the whole speech and that was the end of that conversation.”
Hill said that he was told that the “river to the sea” line could be construed as anti-Semitic as it has become synonymous with calls to destroy Israel. However, Hill says that his intention behind that phrase was to call for a more Democratic, secular system in Israel.
Hill made the speech after a 10-day trip to Israel and went on to compare what he saw there to apartheid.
“There are more 60 laws on the books in Israel that discriminate on the basis of people being Palestinian or not being Jewish,” he said. “There’s something called Admissions Boards and they decide whether or not you can move into a neighborhood.
“Imagine if you’re buying a crib in Brooklyn and there’s a group of white people who decide whether you can move in based on whether you’ll keep the social and cultural fabric of Brooklyn,” he added. “I don’t wish any harm for Jewish people. I’m just saying we don’t need a religious state to protect people.”
He was surprised by the firing, but has no plans to fire back
When asked if he was surprised that he was cut loose by CNN, he said yes, then followed it with a joke.
“I just got my house remodeled” he joked. When Charlemagne Tha God said that he wasn’t making that much money from CNN anyway, he said “man, I’m trying to build a case. You f—ing my case up. My children are hungry!”
He quickly admitted that he is not pursuing any legal action.
“It’s nothing that deep,” he said. “Me and CNN are gonna part ways as long as they do the right thing.”
He’s salty that Temple condemned him for “hate speech”
Temple University’s Board of Trustees chairman, Patrick O’Connor wasn’t happy with Hill’s speech either. He issued a statement publicly calling the comments “lamentable” and “disgusting.”
“It should be made clear that no one at Temple is happy with his comments,” O’Connor said in a statement last week. “Free speech is one thing. Hate speech is entirely different.”
“I’m not happy. The board’s not happy. The administration’s not happy,”O’Connor’s ranting statement continued. “People wanted to fire him right away. We’re going to look at what remedies we have.”
As it turned out, they had no remedies and were not in need of secret elixir to fix everything since Hill is a tenured professor who holds an endowed chair in the school’s Klein College of Media and Communications. It’s that tenure – something that Temple’s professors backed up in an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer that supports Hill and has given him the protection from being sacked.
“They released a statement yesterday that they won’t be firing me, which was dope,” Hill, who joined Temple’s faculty last year, said. “I’m a tenured professor so I can’t be fired. I am literally the highest-ranking professor at Temple University. But they decided to make it a conversation. They were trying to say it was hate speech. Everyone – Democrat, Republican, everyone – has said “river to the sea.”
When Charlemagne interjected: “But language changes and now if they’re telling us that this is an offensive term, you gotta respect it,” Hill agreed, but explained that his situation was different.
“I’m saying it’s a bad faith argument,” he said. “It’s not a commonly accepted dog whistle. It’s not like [Ron DeSantis] saying ‘let’s not monkey it up in Florida.’ If I did harm and there were people who were offended by the phrase, I apologize. My intent was not to do harm to anyone.”