Long-time White House correspondent Helen Thomas deserves all the grief she's getting and then some for her outrageous remarks that the Jews in Israel can "go home," to which she specified as destinations Poland and Germany, as well as the United States. Thomas has later apologized for her remarks, which of course, isn't good enough for some of the usual suspects,
What I find most interesting about the Politico piece, however, is that none other than former Bush Administration mouthpiece Ari Fleischer has weighed in, insisting that Ms, Thomas be sacked from her current gig with Hearst papers... Fleischer
will should go down in infamy for his remarks shortly after 9-11 to the effect that, because of one fortuitous terrorist act, we ceased to be anything resembling a free or constitutional republic any longer, and the White House wanted us to know that "we all have to watch what we say and do now."
And so there we have it... Thomas, who Fleischer and the Bush
Administration clearly never liked much, has stepped into this one with remarks that simply can't be defended. And yet, strangely, I find myself constrained to observe that we have a First Amendment, that supposedly protects freedom of speech, even if the Ari Fleischers of the world feel the need to feign offense at freely made remarks. And let's face it: the third rail of American politics isn't social security, it's plainly Israel: even as the State of Israel boneheadedly massacres peace activists in international waters, Americans-- even Jewish Americans-- aren't really even allowed to criticize its actions. No, it's not just the crazy-ass anti-semitic ravings of a (near) nonogenarian blowhard... any criticism of America's ultimate protege state... I mean criticism in general... it seems we're back in the "we have to watch what we say and do" stage. The Constitutional law
professor senior lecturer has not restored the Constitution one little bit (you know... the reason we elected him) ... instead... the corporate/police state continues on, unabated...
Anyway... I guess that's my message. Apparently, in 2010, nearly 9 years after 9-11... we still all have to watch what we say and do. While I hold no brief for a batty old broad who harbors pent-up anti-semitic sentiments... whether or not her employer is offended enough to relieve her of her duties... somehow, this just does not seem to be the business of the former Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, now does it? DOES IT?
Update: Ms. Thomas announced her abrupt retirement The whole story is deeply problematic, While I disagree with her views, she is entitled to them. Further, her Arab background (she is of Lebanese descent) certainly shapes her views... to which she is entitled. Any doubt that the remarks were off-hand or in jest can be overcome by listening to the interview; Her remarks were considered, and I believe, sincerely held. Still, one likes to think in a pluralistic society with freedom of the press, we can tolerate divergent views by members of the press (and everyone else), even really "divergent" ones. But when it comes to Israel, apparently, we can't. Then again, we seem to have forgotten that Ms. Thomas's and others' opinions are their business, and not ours, and worse, we have given "fair and balanced" the stupidest, most simplistic meaning possible, which alas, doesn't seem to account for what matters, to wit, the accuracy of the reporting. While Ms. Thomas's remarks are not to be defended... there is a bigger picture here, that is a cautionary tale for us all.