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Helen Thomas - Double Standards Running Rampant

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WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 12:  Veteran White House...
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CODEPINK honors former White House dean of correspondents, Helen Thomas (89), for her 60 years of excellent investigative journalism.  It is a shame that Ms. Thomas's career came to a screeching halt because of a comment that she has apologized profusely for.  There's no excuse for Ms. Thomas's remark; we take her apology seriously; and we still have a tremendous respect for her long, productive career, her daring challenges to presidents and their spokespeople, and her opposition to US wars.

During a “Jewish Heritage celebration” at the White House on May 27, Helen Thomas was asked what she thought about Israel and commented: "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine." Upon further prodding, Ms. Thomas stated that "Remember these people are occupied and it's their land..." and those who are the occupiers should "...go home" to "Poland, Germany...And America and everywhere else."

Ms. Thomas misspoke on the matter concerning Jewish citizens of Israel and was sent to the gallows in a hypocritical fashion that has been trending in America for quite a while.  The right-wing media was not about to back down even after Helen Thomas apologized for her mis-statement. While her comment was reprehensible, it is devastating that a single botched answer ended a career of tough questions.

On Sunday, Nine Speakers dropped Thomas as a client, stating that "in light of recent events, Nine Speakers is no longer able to represent Ms. Thomas, nor can we condone her comments on the Middle East." Helen Thomas should be judged on the basis of her long career in probing journalism, not a 30-second sound bite.

Yet, there's this nagging question left -- isn't the United States supposed to protect free speech regardless of subject matter so how does such a trailblazing woman lose her job after a long career of achievements for a 30-second soundbite? After all, Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and a paid contributor at Fox News is still a golden for asking Palestinians to leave Israel. Double-standards much?

We should start applying the same standard to comments about Muslims, "Mexicans" and African Americans because a lot of people should be losing their jobs from Representative Barrett calling for a ban of all immigrants from "terrorist countries" to State Senator Jake Knotts calling prospective Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley a "f***king raghead" to the countless racially-biased comments made by Fox news correspondents such as Glenn Beck. That is just a starter list of right-wing politicos who give ludicrous soundbites on their jobs who don't have anywhere near the career achievements of Helen Thomas.

CODEPINK believes that the extreme backlash and overnight blacklisting of Helen Thomas shows how American society is unable to use this as a teaching moment to educate and forgive. Rather, the response to her statements shows total media bias as one prejudice is immediately called out and rightly so, while Islamophobia is allowed to run rampant. This was the case with Helen Thomas, who happens to be the most prolific Arab-American journalist in United States history.

In her apology, Ms. Thomas wrote: "I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heartfelt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon." We totally concur.

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