On the top of the opinions page of our local newspaper here in Rock Springs, Wyoming, Rocket-Miner, there has always been (and still is!) a quote attributed to Voltaire in defense of free speech. And I quote, "I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it". We may not be too citified in our part of the country, but we do honor that quote. We have some lively discussions in letters to the editor, and op-ed columns from many partisan and non-partisan contributors, and that quote is always upheld. The citizens of our town truly believe in the right to state our opinions, but not to the exclusion of others to state theirs! We never tell others to shut up. We listen, then disagree or agree.
Not so in the nation's capitol, Washington, D.C.! The well respected, veteran reporter Helen Thomas, who joined UPI in the year I was born, 1943, and has spoken truth to power ever since. Then along came Rabbi David Nesenoff, who has a website, rabbilive.com. He asked Miss Thomas if she had any comments on Israel. Please keep in mind the close proximity in time frame to Israeli soldiers killing 9 people who were trying to deliver aid to the Gaza Strip by sea. She said, Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine. Remember these people are occupied, and it's their land. It's not Germany, it's not Poland." Rabbi Nesenoff asked where they should go, and she said, "They should go home." He then asked, "Where's home? Miss Thomas said, "Poland, Germany and America and everwhere else". As a result of these seemingly (to me anyway) mild comments, she has been practically ridden out of Washington, D.C. on a rail. She essentially had to retire from her life-long career as a columnist and journalist and face criticism from all quarters of the holier-than-thou D.C. crowd. White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, called her remarks "offensive and reprehensible". The White House Correspondents Association, her colleagues, admonished her remarks, calling them "indefensible."
Now, I'll tell you what I think is indefensible, offensive and reprehensible! Helen Thomas has been vilified by the very same people who wouldn't know the truth from fiction! Not one peep from them about the killing of activists trying to help the residents of Gaza Strip for fear of upsetting Israel. But when Helen Thomas spoke truth, she was sacrificed on the alter of political correctness! They are shameful and would be ashamed if they had a collective conscience.
Now, I know nothing about Rabbi Nesenoff, but I did check out his website, where there is a stylishly posed picture of the rabbi, wearing a black leather coat and an arrogant Rush Limbaugh kind of smiling sneer. It reminded me of someone I'd rather forget, our last president. Go look, see if your blood pressure increases, like mine did!
One Helen Thomas is worth more than a thousand of these politically correct hypocrites. Thank you, Miss Thomas, for all your years of seeking the truth, there are many people out here who respect you and admire you for that quest. If anyone asks if there is freedom of speech in the United States, tell them it died the day you retired by force. Shame on those who did this to you! Peace out and don't forget that a lot of us will miss your splendid questioning style. You are a true American icon!