Free Speech and Political Spin: The Cases of Helen Thomas and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
by Dr. Robert D. Crane
The case of Helen Thomas, who was the Dean of American White House reporters for decades, clearly shows the double standard in the American media. Free speech is freer if one is politically correct.
In an excellent article, entitled “The Helen Thomas Incident: Reprehensible, Unconscionable, and Offensive”, about the double standard that generally obtains in the American media, Sheila Musaji wrote on June 9, 2010, “Helen Thomas was attacked for a comment that she made. She had remarked to a Rabbi that Palestine is ‘occupied’ by Israel, which should ‘get the hell out’. ‘Remember, these people are occupied. And it’s their land. Not Germany. Not Poland’. And when asked where they should go, she said that they ‘can go home, Poland, Germany, and America and everywhere else’. ... Just a small clip of video tape played over and over again, in most cases with the ‘America and everywhere else’ not included. ... Helen Thomas decided to retire.”
Of course, Helen Thomas should have known better than to risk being misrepresented, even in an off-the record, off-the-cuff huff. She knows that Jews and Arabs have an equal right to live in the Holy Land, but not at the expense of each other. Her point was that those who do not believe that do not belong there.
Politics trumps free speech practically everywhere, and America is no exception. The most flagrant example of media perversion is President Ahmadinehad’s statement in October five years ago calling for “rezhim change” in Israel and America, which was immediately translated (even by the first version in the Iranian media) as “Israel should be wiped off the map”.
Ahmadinejad’s phrase was ” بايد از صفحه روزگار محو شود ” according to the text published on the President’s Office’s website, and was a quote from Ayatollah Khomeini. The statement “wiped off the map” was never made. Ahmadinejad did not refer to the nation or land mass of Israel, but to the “regime occupying Jerusalem”. In his own words in Persian he said: “Imam ghoft een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad.”
Ahmadinejad did not refer to Israel the country or Israel the land mass, but the Israeli regime. This is a vastly significant distinction, as one cannot wipe a regime off the map. And he clearly did not mean that America should be wiped off the map, since he was referring only to replacing the Bush regime. Ahmadinejad does not even refer to Israel by name, he instead uses the specific phrase “rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods” (regime occupying Jerusalem). Yet, we are led to believe that Iran’s President threatened to “wipe Israel off the map”, despite never having uttered the words “map”, “wipe out” or even “Israel”
Imam Khomeini’s statement, quoted by Ahmadinejad, reads: Een (this) rezhim-e (regime) ishghalgar-e (occupying) qods (Jerusalem) bayad (must) az safheh-ye ruzgar (from page of time) mahv shavad (vanish from). A direct English translation reads: “This regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time”.
It is ironic that perhaps the majority of the Jews in the world, especially the younger generation, agree with this statement.