Friday, June 04, 2010

In Defense of Helen Thomas

Earlier today, I came across a You Tube video that was posted here on Facebook. The fellow who posted it is a blogger, and he made the point that Thomas should not be allowed to practice journalism because of a two minute clip that was evidently taken from a much longer interview that seemed to indicate Thomas's belief that the Palestinians are the rightful inhabitants of Israel, and that Israel should "go back to Germany."

Both the subject line, and the general tone of the post was inflammatory, and hysterical. The blogger cried out against Helen Thomas's "bias" at the same time he posted a video from a site claiming to be "" Is there not bias there?

Further, there was the suggestion Helen Thomas favors deporting Jews back io Germany with the attendant innuendo of extermination as if that's all the Germans should be remembered for is gas chambers. Apart from the obvious anachronism, it struck me as egregiously unfair, so I posted a comment suggesting that the blogger consider:

1) Helen Thomas will turn 90 years old in exactly two months from today
2) Ms. Thomas is of Lebanese descent.
3) She was among John F. Kennedy's most beloved reporters, and is a widely respected journalist who has been in the newspaper business for 60 years.

I got a nasty comment in response, so I responded by saying only that the blogger who posted this inflammatory video clip ought to consider going after prominent columnists like Robert Fisk, and others who have consistently sided with Palestinians and suggested Israel was an occupying force with no right to the land. It never occurred to this blogger that maybe, just maybe, Ms. Thomas is still not over the Israeli bombing of Beirut, a town which may have a family history to her.

This was a short video, and not a written article in a newspaper. I merely suggested the blogger go after those who call themselves journalists and make their opinions known in print, and who are widely publsihed and widely regarded instead of an older woman who can't, or won't fight back.

So, let me be perfectly clear. There are some who will seize upon this crisis to create hostility among people who they should count their friends. There are some who will intentionally clip others' words, as if they were clipping coupons, thereby devaluing both the context and the substance. There are some who aren't happy unless they impose their own miserable mindset on the rest of the world.

Things are not black and white. I have no investment in Israel, Palestine, or Hamas. My only investment is in truth and justice, and it is flat out unfair, false, and unjust to call out a 90 year old female writer for saying things that many others have been saying for months with impunity both in the American alternative press, and the European one.

I'm old enough to remember when Vanessa Redgrave was blacklisted for her statement the night of the Academy Awards. I thought it was wrong for her to be met with such universal condemnation then, and I think it's wrong now. People should, and must be allowed to express their opinions---off the time clock---whether they're housewives, Hollywood actors, and mainstream reporters.

Guess I'm naive enough to think we have a First Amendment, and sometimes it might even work.

Those who insist on seeing the world only in black and white will soon be color blind.