Helen Thomas, We Hardly Knew Ye
Update: John Cole catches the other key point to be made about the unpersoning of Thomas. It continues the cleansing of the White House press corps capacity to commit journalism.
Update 2: See Glenzilla for a quick update on the thesis that Helen Thomas’s error was to pick the wrong group to repatriate, and nothing more (check out his links for details.)
Ted K., one of the regular commenters here, has asked me if I would write about Israel’s stupid and morally bankrupt raid on the Turkish flagged Gaza blockade runners, and I will.
I’ll do so despite having nothing to add to the growing number of observers who have noted that a nation to which I feel enormous connection has in its occupation policy in general and in this instance in particular managed to combine the dumb and the bad with a spectacular disregard for both the lessons of the prophets and its own self-interest.
But before I get to that post, this news struck me as sad: Helen Thomas has resigned, in what appears to be a “jump before we push you” move.
Now, to be on the edge of 90 and choosing to retire is not the worst thing in the world — except, as everyone knows, Thomas did not retire.
She was forced to leave because she said something supremely stupid and hateful in its own way about the need for Jews in Israel to go back to where they came from — Germany, Poland, wherever. Josh Marshall has a short post up that captures just how deadly that remark was.
It’s almost impossible to count the ways in which that is a catastrophic statement — but in the context of a broad demonization of anyone who dares speak ill of a disastrous Israeli government, I’m not ready to throw off the bus one of the few journalists who did not lose her wits during the Bush years (and for decades before).
To put my reaction in the simplest terms: I’d like to live in a journalistic world in which the utterance of hateful statements about ethnic, religious or racial groups would get them both fired and shunned.
But the last time I looked Pat Buchanan still has a job. He’s said worse than Thomas ever did, over and over again.
Glenn Beck rolls in the mud with Nazi sympathizers (and has this peculiar predilection to dress up in East German Secret Police garb, for which I do not advocate banning, just ridicule. Not my fault if the uni fits him well, you know (plus it makes me think of Dire Straits great “Les Boys” tune).
Dan Michael (wee bit o’ difference there, doncha think –ed.) Savage trades in anti-Semitic code — and not so coded nastiness.
And so on.
And did I mention that Buchanan still has a job?
Now I’d be down with Helen Thomas having to quit, or take Talmud classes for six months or whatever if we had a consistent standard here. Or perhaps, to be more cold, if losing Helen Thomas’s voice in the White House Briefing Room were the price to pay to get Pat of my teevee, it would be worth it.
But we don’t get that option.
I wonder why?
Image: Henryk Nowodworski, cartoon depicting the pogrom in Białostock in 1906.