Photo by Kristen BonsOn Monday, Helen Thomas retired from her career as a journalist for United Press International at the ripe old age of 89. The now former member of the White House Press Corps did not step out gracefully with a Costco cake and warm wishes for happy golden years from President Obama.
Ms. Thomas retired after making some spectacularly inappropriate comments that even White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs condemned. He stated in a press conference Monday morning, "Obviously those remarks do not reflect the opinions of most of the people in here, and certainly not of the Administration."
So what did Helen Thomas say? Remember, this is a woman that called sitting President George W. Bush the worst president in history. You'd think that she'd be old enough to remember what journalistic integrity was, but I guess not. But even that inappropriate, off-the-record comment pales in comparison to what she said last week.
Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to Germany and Poland.
There are so many things wrong with Helen Thomas's comment that it's hard to know where to begin in dissecting it. Let's start with the historical inaccuracy, shall we? If anything, the Jews are home in Israel. You know, where Jerusalem is? Where the Temple of David used to be? Where the most famous Jew in history, Jesus of Nazareth, fed the hungry, healed the sick, and let the little children come to him? Israel, not Germany nor Poland, is the ancestral home to the Jews.
Now let's examine the social side of the comment. Is it possible for an educated person to think Germany, Poland, and Jews at the same time and not also think Holocaust? I doubt there's a single person reading this that doesn't know what I'm referring to, so I won't bother you with any word pictures like "Jews in Germany and Poland during WWII were kidnapped and shoved into giant ovens where they died an agonizing death as the flesh melted from their bones." I won't even bother to tell you that the word Holocaust itself comes from the Greek word holokauston, meaning a "whole (holos) burnt (kaustos)" sacrificial offering to a god.
I learned about the massacre of the Jews in Germany and Poland in history class and from watching Schindler's List. Helen Thomas is old enough to have reported on the stories in real time. (She didn't, as far as I know, I'm just saying she is old enough to have done so.) She should know of the atrocities that took place against the Jews in those countries and be culturally sensitive enough to not make such asinine and hurtful comments.
A lot of people have said that this fiasco is akin to someone asking blacks in America to "go home" to Africa, but that is a faulty analogy. For one thing, blacks actually did come from Africa, while Jews did not historically come from Germany or Poland. For another thing, Africans didn't famously, in memorable history, gather up 6 million black people and cook them.
No, I'd have to say that a much better analogy for Helen Thomas's now infamous "go home" comment is telling black Americans to go home to the plantations. You know, to be slaves again. She's probably old enough to remember that too.
Helen Thomas's words were inexcusable, abominable, repugnant, hateful, offensive, and just plain in bad taste. And that's without my thesaurus! I for one am glad that this mean old lady won't be reporting the news to us any longer.
Go home, Helen Thomas. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.