Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Word About Ms. Helen...

Look, I'm sure most of y'all aren't really aware of the current flap surrounding Helen Thomas and her recent retirement from her job as an opinion writer. Thomas, who was a mainstay at White House press conferences, worked in journalism for five decades and was quite the personality in the press room.

She retired after causing a firestorm of controversy in certain communities after she said Jews need to get out of Palestine and go home to Poland, Germany and America. Her comments, which were made after this flotilla debacle, enraged many Jews and journalists, and ultimately she decided that at 89-years old, it was time to go. Her departure has been discussed in several columns in papers across the country with many folks expressing anger at her words, and some expressing sadness that she had to leave like she did.

I admit, I was a bit nonplussed.

Honestly, while I understood that her comment wasn't something most folks would say, I didn't see it as the act of an anti-Semite. I actually viewed it as an inarticulate rant, although it possessed a main thrust that many people agree with it. Lots of folks think that the decision to give the Jewish people a country in the middle of somebody else's country is the root of the problems in the Middle East, not an irrational hatred of Judaism.  Personally, I don't think it's that simple, but I don't think believing that it is that simple makes you an anti-Semite.

See, I have lots of opinions on lots of things, but for the most part I recognize they are the opinions of a sparsely educated man whose thoughts are grounded in his own theories about human interactions and foibles. I doubt that what I have to say is ground-breaking or will provide a solution to most problems, so often I keep my mouth shut. But, my philosophy is not everyone's cup of tea.

Some folks are clearly anti-Semitic, and other folks just have unpopular viewpoints. There is a difference. In Thomas' case, I got that sense that she just had an unpopular, unrealistic and fairly naive viewpoint. But, I sensed no malice or hatred from her comment, just frustration and a willingness to grasp at simple solutions to a complicated problem. That never works. There are often simple explanations for complicated problems, but rarely simple solutions.

Now, my view is obviously colored by lack of connection to the Jewish people. I'm sure I would view this situation differently if similar comments had been made regarding black folks, and I readily admit that bias. However,  unpopular, naive and unrealistic opinions about black people are commonly expressed and defended in today's society. So, if I happened to take offense at one, I wouldn't be joined by a long list of prominent mainstream writers, instead I'd likely by the lone voice crying in the wilderness.

What Thomas said wasn't particularly insightful, it wasn't going to spark minds and it really wasn't all that helpful. But, that doesn't mean it was hate speech. The Holocaust was horrible, but just like slavery doesn't provide immunity for black folks from criticism, neither should the Holocaust provide Jews with cover. Jewish people needed a safe haven, and they needed assistance, but there are legitimate questions about how that safe haven was established and how it's been maintained. While free speech means we get to respond to other folks how we see fit, the response that Thomas received gives the impression that challenging the right of Jewish people to occupy Israel is somehow prohibited.

And I don't agree with that at all.


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18 comments:

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

http://s3.amazonaws.com/data.tumblr.com/tumblr_l3rbctR08S1qbxkjao1_1280.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=0RYTHV9YYQ4W5Q3HQMG2&Expires=1276286431&Signature=G6cx2WYoBfTRI0RpZPvic9R8tAQ%3D

enough said.

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

ok... let me try again:

http://editorialcartoonists.com/cartoon/showlink.cfm/86811/

Redbonegirl97 said...

Yeah, what she said was her our opinion and that was fine but the camera in her face while she sad it made her out to be a villain. I don't think she should have been made to retire because chances are there are plenty of other people in that room that are thinking the same thing.

Peace, Love and Chocolate
Tiffany

CNu said...

Lots of folks think that the decision to give the Jewish people a country in the middle of somebody else's country is the root of the problems in the Middle East, not an irrational hatred of Judaism. Personally, I don't think it's that simple

It really IS that simple.

Jewish people needed a safe haven, and they needed assistance

Should've been carved out of defeated and offending european geography..., instead of pretending that the 19th century zionist movement/mandate had any validity whatsoever. In order to carry off that pretension, you also had to pretend that the indigenous occupants of Palestine were "less than" the Khazars who violently displaced them.

Big Man said...

Cnulan

It's not that I don't think the whole land grab is the major issue, but I do think that the religious animosity between the two groups also plays a fairly large role in the enduring nature of the conflict.

I mean, pretty much every country in the world has a land grab in its history, ours included, but that hasn't always led to a protracted war that draws in other countries.

But, I agree that it would have made since to take some land in Germany and Poland rather than taking the Palenstinians land. Or somewhere in Eastern Europe.

CNu said...

It's not that I don't think the whole land grab is the major issue, but I do think that the religious animosity between the two groups also plays a fairly large role in the enduring nature of the conflict.


Israel won the Golan Heights from Syria in a stand-up fight. I'm not aware of that being particularly controversial at this time.

I believe the overarching and growing source of continuing animosity is the sanctimonious nature of the complete ban on communications contrary to the official party line, i.e., that it has been made the equivalent of a world-wide "thought crime" to question the legitimacy or propriety (much less the morality) of zionist acquisitiveness in Palestine.

Joanna said...

Anyone who DARES disagree with the policies of Israel or question its legitimacy in public is signing their own pink slip... whether it is a politician, a journalist or a celebrity. You can say whatever you want about any other group, give a half assed apology and you are good to go.... but you CANNOT criticize Israel lest you be deemed and anti-Semite, an anti-American and a traitor!

Imhotep said...

Sorry to see Helen go, she was one of the few in the press pool at the white house who you could count on to ask the hard questions to the press secretary or the president about the going on of Palestine as it relates to Israel, and primarily the government of Israel. I did not view her as pro Palestine, but anti-injustice and unfairness.

What's going on in Gaza is nothing short of criminal. Israel controls all goods and commodity going into Gaza, from drinking water to candy bars to toothpaste. That's what the blockade is all about, controlling the quality of life in Gaza. This is Israel’s way of punishing the people of Gaza by way of starvation for having the temerity to elect HAMAS as the ruling party. Similar to how colonial powers remove leaders they did not approve of by putting the locals in a position to vote for their stomachs, and orchestrate a coup and elect (install) those of the ruling class that would do the bidding of the colonial masters.


The bible says the devil was cast out of heaven, if that’s the case, s/he is currently living large in Israel.

Tit for Tat said...

Big Man

Here's an irony. If you are a Christian, isnt it prophetic for the 2nd coming of Christ to be directly tied to Israel based on Biblical History? Seems to me you have a vested interest in Israel doing the Sheit that they do. Your salvation is dependent on it. ;)

T.A.N. Man said...

I'd agree with you, Big Man. I think the current Israeli-Palestine conflict is much deeper than Anglos giving Jews land in Palestine. I think the land grab definitely plays a huge part of the recent conflict, but Jews have been fighting with, been hated by, and professed hatred for, their non-Jewish neighbors for as long as history has been recording the activities of the of that region. How did they end up on Eastern Europe in the first place? Hell, before there was a Europe or the United States, Isreal had to walk around, not through Edom--the land of its older brother.

I don't think most folks involved in the fighting know why they don't like the other side. Much like gang beef in other nations. At one point there was a clear reason, but over the years it just is and the "why" is no longer as important as the "is." For example, I went to an "inter-faith" round table discussion facilitated by an Imam and a Rabbi, and neither could tell me what the religious disconnect is between Islam and Judaism--but both had views on a "two-state" vs. "one-state" solution. Sons, y'all are religious leaders--where's your Talmud, hit me with some Soras why don't you? Nope ... just political talking points and generic covenant-speak.

@Tit for Tat -- Nah, it's not. You might want to brush up on that. The Jews don't accept Christ, never have, and most, probably, never will. Consequently, Judaism/Israel and the second coming of Christ are different bags.

Big Man said...

Yeah, Tit for Tat, I'm not sure what you're talking about at all.

However, I will readily admit that I don't spend much time reading Revelation. Not really concerned about that.

Deacon Blue said...

I think what Tit for Tat is trying to get at is that most interpretations of Revelation presuppose that there is going to be turmoil between Isreal and the Arab world, and that conflict and eventually "peace" (as theoretically orchestrated by the antichrist) are central to the Rapture, Armageddon and the Millennial Kingdom.

Regardless, I don't spend much time worrying about it either, Big Man. What happens happens, and when it happens is whenever it happens...and however it happens (and Revelation is awfully heavy on symbolism).

Tit for Tat, I don't find that people who focus on the End Times are very productive Christians. We don't know the time and aren't meant to know it. For all we know, the Jews in Isreal could be wiped out and then come back again generations later and the End Times may be centuries away still.

We just don't know, and people who claim they can figure it out are full of crap. It can be a fun exercise at times to try to see where Revelation might link to real like and current history, but it's still just conjecture.

So, I'm not rooting for some particular outcome. In fact, I would like to see the End Time comes as far in the future as possible, as it's not going to be a pretty time, probably, and I'd rather see a lot more people on a wholesome spiritual path before those days come.

Tit for Tat said...

Tit for Tat, I don't find that people who focus on the End Times are very productive Christians(Deacon)

I concur, but the problem is when people who have that belief system get in power. You dont need to look very far to see it.

Big Man said...

Tit for Tat

Which religious belief system would you say has a great track record when it comes to ruling countries?

Tit for Tat said...

None, Theocracies are pretty much all whacked.

Big Man said...

Tit for Tat

You confuse theocracies with belief systems.

They are a type of belief system, but they aren't the only one.

Let me rephrase my point, what system of human government has a great track record?

Tit for Tat said...

Big Man

None have a great track record,though democracy seems to have the upper hand. Unfortunately because it encorporates capitalism it is rife with corruption too. Would you consider secularism a belief system? If yes, then I would say it has the best track record.

Big Man said...

Which countries or societies have employed secularism as their dominant belief system?

Raving Black Lunatic