Home  > Historical Perspectives
Worse Than Bigoted / Helen Thomas´s latest may be too much for the Society of Professional Journalists (WSJ) WALL STREET JOURNAL OP-ED) By JAMES TARANTO 12/06/10)Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704156304576003331282575692.html?KEYWORDS=israel WALL STREET JOURNAL WALL STREET JOURNAL Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
If your lifelong ambition is to win the Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Award from Detroit´s Wayne State University, you might as well end it all now. Thomas´s alma mater terminated the award Friday "after she made controversial remarks in Dearborn on Thursday," reports the Detroit Free Press.

Things move more slowly at the Society of Professional Journalists, whose website still advertises the Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement and describes Thomas as "a living icon of journalism for her dogged pursuit of the truth in a career that has spanned almost 60 years." Thomas said on Thursday: "Congress, the White House, and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists." Apparently the truth outran her.

We asked SPJ if it plans to continue offering the award in light of Thomas´s latest comments. The society´s president, Hagit Limor, quickly got back to us by email. She wrote: "I am placing this item on the agenda for consideration at the next executive board meeting," which will be held Jan. 8.

Having finally managed to reach an SPJ executive--Limor´s predecessor, Kevin Smith, stonewalled us six months ago--we asked Limor why the society decided to continue the award after Thomas´s last eruption, in which she demanded that Israeli Jews go "home"-- that is, that they leave their homes and emigrate to the countries whence their ancestors came. Limor replied: "We discussed the issue at our exec board meeting in July 2010. The majority believed this to be a one-time slip that didn´t change Ms. Thomas´s lifetime of service, which is what we were honoring."

As you might expect, Thomas is not happy with Wayne State´s decision. "The leaders of Wayne State University have made a mockery of the First Amendment and disgraced their understanding of its inherent freedom of speech and the press," she told the Free Press. "The university also has betrayed academic freedom--a sad day for its students."

We suppose she could hire a lawyer and sue Wayne State on the ground that removing her name from the award is tantamount to censorship of protected speech. We like the university´s odds of prevailing in that one. As for academic freedom, are we to understand that Thomas claims to be engaged in scholarship?

It must be said that Thomas´s comment about "Zionists" was taken out of context and made to look, in most news accounts, like a bigoted rant. It was that, but it was also something even more pernicious.

Click Here for Blogger Robert Stacy McCain transcribed the remark in context:


Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY