Helen Thomas, Robert Bork, and Double Standards

One of the more difficult things to handle is the death of a public figure who displayed a significant level of moral turpitude. I never feel that a person’s death should be celebrated, no matter how bad they were. Ronald Reagan was an individual who pandered to bigots, played a role in destroying the GOP, and should be ranked somewhere in the lower reaches of the top twenty-five or thirty best presidents, but I thought it was very distasteful when cartoonist Ted Rall made a crack about him burning in Hell. On the other hand, I do not believe that a person’s death gives the living license to give them honors they do not deserve. As many people probably know, Helen Thomas, a famous journalist and member of the White House’s press corps, passed away yesterday. I was not going to mention her until I noticed that, mere hours after her death, some right-wing websites were already blasting her as an anti-Semite. I have no problem with that criticism. Helen Thomas was indeed an anti-Semite. She said that Jews in Israel who had immigrated there after World War II from Europe and North America should “get the Hell out of Palestine” and “go home.” She also accused Jews of basically controlling American society. Anti-Zionists often claim that they are unfairly tarred as anti-Semites. It is indeed unfair to label everyone person who opposes Israel an anti-Semite. However, the truth is that that is exactly what many of them are. For every person like Desmond Tutu who opposes Israel but has no bigotry toward Jews, there is someone like Helen Thomas using their criticism of Israel as a cover for anti-Semitism. However, what I do find interesting is comparing the Right’s reaction to Helen Thomas’s death with their reaction to the death of Robert Bork. Bork was rabidly homophobic, for one thing, but I realize that most conservative  news sources still share his views, even though not all conservatives do. But Bork was also blatantly racist towards African Americans. He opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, supposedly for libertarian or federalist reasons. But does his excuse really hold water? Bork had no problem with a powerful federal government when it suited him. He was one of the strongest proponents of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and making it a matter of federal policy to divide citizens into different categories of rights based on sexual orientation. So if he was so comfortable with a powerful State, why could he not support a law making it illegal to fire someone based on their skin color, unless he was a racist? When Robert Bork died, however, he was given tributes by WorldNetDaily, TownHall.com, and National Review. Of course, National Review opposed many of the reforms of the Civil Rights Movement and practically defended segregation under William F. Buckley, so perhaps some things never change. For years, many conservatives have tried to overlook Bork’s racism, as they did with Buckley, W.A. Criswell, Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, Jerry Falwell, and anyone else who had mostly conservative views and either started out a Republican or became one. So why do some conservatives act as if it was alright for Robert Bork to use constitutionalism as a smokescreen for racism against blacks, but it was inexcusable for Helen Thomas to try and blame everything on Jews? For that matter, why were many Democrats horrified by Trent Lott and Strom Thurmond’s racism but willing to make all sorts of excuses for Exalted Cyclops Robert Byrd? When are we going to lambast everyone who displays bigotry instead of practicing double standards based on political alignment?


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July 22, 2013 · 3:34 am

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