Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Thoughts on Helen Thomas

While I suppose I often admired the now-retired Helen Thomas for speaking truth to power (or at least for asking tough questions of presidents and their mouthpieces), I must admit that I found much of the liberal enthusiasm for her somewhat overdone. She has long been, after all, a crank, with a knack not so much for asking probing questions but for making superficial political observations from a blunt ideological perspective. I generally share that perspective, yes, but there was something uncomfortably unprofessional about her tired shtick. (Which is not to say that her generally weak-kneed colleagues were/are any more professional or any better at their jobs. They weren't, and aren't.)

Her recent comment that Israeli Jews should just "go home" to Poland or Germany (or the U.S.) was indeed "reprehensible," as Robert Gibbs said, not to mention ignorant, insensitive, and downright stupid. And it does seem that her position was really no longer tenable and that she made the right decision to retire, though it is a shame that her long and distinguished career ended on such a sour note.

I must note, though, as others have (including Libby, Taylor, and Steve), that what Thomas said was hardly all that much worse than what many on the right say day after day, whether it's Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or Pat Buchanan or, or, or -- the list goes on and on and on. They, for some reason, can get away with spewing their bigotry while Thomas is vilified, including by the White House, for a single "reprehensible" comment, one that he actually apologized for. When has one of these conservative bigots ever apologized for anything? They continue to pollute the airwaves (and in some cases to make millions), but Thomas is the one forced out of her job and dragged through the mud? I'd say that's a pretty blatant double standard -- though, to be sure, liberals can usually be held to much higher standards than conservatives, and more and better ought to be expected of them.

Anyway, there really isn't much more to say. One ugly remark should not define a career, and there was much more to admire than to object to.

Farewell, Helen Thomas.

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