Thursday, June 10, 2010

About the Helen Thomas Thing

Helen Thomas retired on Monday. The 89 year old White House Correspondent, who has covered every sitting President since Eisenhower, decided to call it quits (or perhaps was forced to) after making a stupid remark. About Israel.

Q: Any comments on Israel? They're arresting everybody today any comments on...

Thomas: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.

Q: Ooh. Any better comments on Israel?

Thomas: Remember, these people are occupied. And it's their land. Not German's [sic] and not Poland's.

Q: So where should they go? What should they do?

Thomas: They should go home.

Q: Where's home?

Thomas: Poland.

Q: SO you're saying Jews should ...

Thomas: Germany.

Q: ...go back to Poland and Germany?

Thomas: And America and everywhere else.

Now, I'm not defending Thomas' statement. Not all of it anyway. As a reporter in her position, Helen Thomas should have known better. She should have chosen her words more carefully because she probably knows that being an opinion journalist in the White House Press Corps is just as much a political position as it is a journalistic one - or at least that's what it's become.

She quickly apologized, but it wasn't enough. The cat was out of the bag and now her amazing career is over and she'll be remembered not for the decades of service, not for asking the tough questions that others dare not ask, and not for being the first female in the man's world of the White House Correspondents Association. She'll be remembered for a dumb statement that shouldn't have been made by an impartial reporter.

Unfortunately, Thomas was marginalized long before her comments. When once she was always the first called on during a presidential news conference as a sign of respect, that tradition quickly ground to a halt during the previous administration after repeatedly being called to task by Thomas. They cast her off to the side, tried to make her a laughingstock and the rest of the Press Corps, instead of watching their dean's back, went right along with it. No respect.

But back to the statement. "Back to Poland. And Germany. And America and everywhere else" was her overstatement. But what is wrong with having the opinion that the Israeli settlements in Gaza are only a deterrent to peace between Israel and Palestine? Why does everyone walk on eggshells when it comes to the subject of the occupied territory in Gaza? Why the fear of, heaven forbid, insulting Jews? Are we to assume that everyone who doesn't agree with every choice Israel makes is automatically and anti-Semite?

Nevermind that they deny Palestinians basic human rights, close off street access thereby preventing access to doctors and hospitals, food and water. Anywhere else in the world this is considered outrageous. But in Israel? Well, you know. It's Israel. We can't upset them. Had any other country attacked a flotilla of relief supplies to Gaza, boarding a ship and killing 11 in the process, it would be considered an act of piracy. But hey, it's Israel so they get a pass, right, America?

Former president Jimmy Carter dared to write an in depth book on the conflict and was torn to shreds for it. A man that helped Israel and Egypt reach a peace agreement apparently does not have a clue about what's happening in Gaza and therefore hates Jews. That has to be the only reason, right? Why is he excoriated? For speaking what he believes to be the truth? And to me it seems he's a lot closer to the truth than, "Israel can do no wrong."

So what's the deal? Is it because the Christian fundamentalists need the Jews in Israel around for the rapture? Because that's the only reason for their unwavering support. So Helen Thomas said what was on her mind and was "retired." If only we applied the same standards to every kook who spews anti-Muslim hate speech, or for Obama to go back to Kenya. When scumbags like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Michael Savage are forced to "retire" then I'll recognize the equilvalency.

1 comment:

jane said...

A fucking men, Carlos.

Also, I'd be reniss not to repeat the word verification.

And apparently a dulcif for not actually typing "reniss" into the little block.