Helen Thomas: Millions Die—Inappropriately


I’ve always liked that word. It has just that touch—like sweet and sour sauce. It condemns, but doesn’t insult. It’s got enough punch to chastise, but not enough to paint the chastiser as coarse.

What I truly love about that word, though, is it’s non-demanding. It doesn’t absolutely demand action. Something can be inappropriate, but if you put a small twist on it, it can be disregarded.

An example: Rape is probably the cruelest crime known to mankind, truly a fantastic candidate for capital punishment. By contrast, non-consensual physical contact, e.g. fondling, is too often termed: inappropriate.

What a bunch of crap.

Go ask any recipient of non-consensual physical contact how they feel. These could include women, children of either genre, even men. For such victims the formula: ‘inappropriate’ equals ‘doesn’t demand action’ won’t cut it.

For over a decade, I was a maximum security prison officer. Almost all of my inmates sentenced for child molestation, were re-acting to others the injury done to them. (Victim turns perpetrator syndrome.) My female inmates who, too, were victims of these types of non-consensual activities were all undergoing ongoing psychological treatment.

What’s all this got to do with Helen Thomas? Nothing.

What’s it got to do with the fallout of the Helen Thomas debacle? Everything.

Thank God for the fact that they’ve removed this woman from the public’s eye. The woman who, just a few days ago, was a member of the White House Press Corps, a Hearst Newspaper Columnist, and bureau chief for UPI, presently has none of those positions. She was forced to resign after her infamous remarks.

It went like this. Outside the White House, on May 27, 2010, she was approached by one David Nesenoff. The conversation was being filmed:

Nesenoff: Any comments on Israel? We’re asking everybody today, any comments on Israel?
Thomas: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.
Nesenoff: Oooh. Any better comments on Israel?
Thomas: Remember, these people are occupied and it’s their land. It’s not German, it’s not Poland …
Nesenoff: So where should they go, what should they do?
Thomas: They go home.
Nesenoff: Where’s the home?
Thomas: Poland. Germany.
Nesenoff: So you’re saying the Jews go back to Poland and Germany?
Thomas: And America and everywhere else. Why push people out of there who have lived there for centuries? See?

Okay, we’ve already noted, there was an uproar. Of course, everyone in the media, and the US needed to comment. Even Mr. Obama got on board. During an NBC’s Today Show, he called those comments: ‘offensive,’ and ‘out of line.’

Within thirty six hours, the justified public outcry forced Ms. Thomas out of its face.

But, what about the fallout? Here’s where the problem is. We all know the idiom: Strike when the iron is hot. But, as time goes on, well, things cool off.

They shouldn’t.

Now, we have Judson Berger reporting on Fox News about groups considering renaming their Helen Thomas’ awards.

Thomas’ alma mater, Wayne State University, will not be renaming its Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity in the Media award. Well, that was according to this June 10, online Fox News report.

Today, barely three days later, I did a search for this award, to see what it actually stood for. There was plenty on the web. But, on the Wayne State University site, all this search came up with was a generic: Sorry! The event you are looking for no longer exists. (Hopefully, you will find another way to make her happy.)

No kidding. I guess they have a sense of humor after all, over there in Wayne State.

The Society of Professional Journalists, according to Fox News, has not yet decided what to do with the Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement. The Society’s president, Mr. Kevin Smith, had this to say, “I think we’re going to deliberate it very carefully. I don’t think this is something we’re going to have a discussion on and take a vote and get it done in a matter of an hour.”

Here’s a couple of Rabbi Fishel Jacobs suggestions to ease your deliberations:

Don’t think Helen Thomas’ remarks were inappropriate. They were not.

They were hateful and damaging beyond belief. They insulted the death of six million Jews whose children still walk the face of this earth. They spit in the face of the memory of fourteen of my own wife’s uncles, aunts and grandparents who died in Auschwitz.

Those sinister words wished to strengthen the will of millions of evil people throughout the world who this very moment plan, espouse, yearn and verily attempt with all their souls and might to destroy the six million Jews living in Israel.

Those words insult with the greatest and most direct blow possible the self respect and dignity of those six million Jews, such as myself, who have created a life for ourselves in that great country, Israel.

Had Helen Thomas’ remarks been: ‘Tell the blacks to go the hell back to Africa’—no one, rightfully, would have considered them inappropriate. Thomas’ name would have been wiped off every award given in the US for the past ninety years.

This will be the last of three articles on this subject, posted to this blog. This will be enough for me.

To write more—that action—for me would be inappropriate.

For others, who have not yet taken action, it would not be.


  1. Mari Griffen July 18, 2011
  2. Rabbi Jacobs July 18, 2011
  3. Siobhan Gayden July 19, 2011

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