our campus community was treated (subjected?) to a speech by the immortal (read: preserved by formaldehyde) helen thomas on tuesday. while i knew what i was getting into by attending her "speech", most of my fellow students--at what may be the nation's most conservative campus--did not.
on one occasion a few years back i heard her simply BERATING members of the bush administration, and i cringed, "are journalists supposed to get that angry when they pose questions? this woman needs to relax." she scared me. she was old, unsightly, and had that "wicked witch of the west" voice. but mostly i was afraid because i realized america (me included) was seeing its news through the biased, piss-colored lenses of helen thomas' glasses. [read helen's recent columns here]
helen is a gifted writer. i'll give her that. i went back and lexis-nexis-ized her and found her writings to be splendid. but the bias. the BIAS.
helen should have been an opinion writer. a columnist, not a reporter. how can someone so closed minded accurately report the news? she can't. i say put helen up next to ann coulter. they can have dueling weekly opinion columns. but helen wouldn't last a day against someone who actually uses facts in her writing. if you take away helen's right to publish her lies as truth, all you've got left is a harmless old grandma who talks your ear off every time you stop by for cookies.
not 15 seconds into her "speech"--right after cracking the token joke and remarking that she'd spoken at BYU before--the hackneyed political rant began. the following are the notes i took at the event. please notice how utterly cliché her statements are.
"we are involved in a war that is becoming more dubious every day."
"it was wrong to invade another country without provocation." (except in the case of the whole nazi thing, right? and kosovo? and bosnia? and liberia?)
"we now know there was no imminent threat."
"we bombed [iraq] before the war began."
"there are no weapons of mass destruction."
"there is no tie between saddam hussein and osama bin laden."
"the war was not a cakewalk as promised by the administration." (when did they ever promise that? they expressly said it would NOT be, you liar.) from bush's state of the union address two years ago:
"We will direct every resource at our command...to the destruction and to the defeat of the global terror network. This war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat. Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen." had enough of the truth? now, back to helen's world:
"it's not ours to just...die, but ours to reason why." (how poetic!)
"the economy is [in trouble]."
"our image is in disrepute." (with the french. who cares?)
"this administration is a throwback to 19th century empire builders."
"our country needs to get it's 'halo' back." (one which it presumably wore while clinton was being serviced in the nation's highest office? speaking of no halo, check out clinton's moral authority rating)
"Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive" (quoting sir walter scott)
"so frightened have people become since september 11th...blah blah" (so frightened...that they haven't bombed us again!)
"corporate friends are having a heyday at the government trough." (now the lies come with allusions to farming!)
the woman chooses her favored presidents as blindly as someone who votes straight-ticket democrat. according to her reporting, all democratic presidents are great, but when they do happen to fail they acknowledge it and try to do better. if we have a negative image of them now, it is because they couldn't "right the ship" in time to salvage public opinion in their favor. even in the case of bill clinton: "his heart was in the right place!" WHAT? if you can say good things about the man, you cannot say THAT! his heart was in exactly the WRONG place (not with his wife).
in conclusion, it was exhilarating to hear those divergent views expressed on my campus (then again, it is exhilarating to rip a good healthy fart sometimes). however, i was disappointed that helen did not even attempt to build a bridge or close the gap between her position and ours. instead of sounding like the accomplished journalist her reputation made her out to be, she was completely unoriginal. she was a bitter michael moore wanna-be carelessly spewing half-truths.
the following was written in honor of christiane amanpour (aka: the war whore), but it applies quite well to helen thomas and maureen dowd:
Many stories are told about the eccentric Kaiser Franz-Josef I, penultimate Emperor of Austria. Most of them are presumably urban legends, including this one – but that doesn't matter for present purposes: the story is that the Kaiser was visiting an exhibition of modern art. And he said to one of the artists standing proudly by his painting: “well, that isn't bad, but tell me, young man, why have you painted the sky green, and the grass pink?”
“Because that is how I see them, your Majesty”, replied the painter.
The Kaiser nodded sympathetically and turned away. But then turned back in puzzlement to ask a supplementary question: “But in that case – how the devil did you happen to choose painting as your profession?" [source]
the extended entry contains what i wrote to my school newspaper in response to their coverage of helen thomas' speech.
all the editorials produced by BYU's newspaper staff are highly laudatory of helen thomas and her diverse opinion, but aren't you just being PC, you dorks? she laid into everything you believe. she was WAY more blunt about her liberal views than any other speaker at this school has been about his or her conservative views, as far as i can tell.
how often does someone come onto campus and say, "president bush's heart is in the right place! he always takes the right road! he's a can-do president!" or, "president clinton was sooo liberal! and he nearly ruined the white house with his immoral sex acts and dishonesty! he could never quite get things right." (?)
never. we never talk politics at BYU, and if we do, it is in veiled speech. and that's why i'm so upset that helen thomas was so blunt with her political views.
i remember. i was a freshman when the clinton sex-then-purgery scandal broke. i think it was elder oaks, a former state supreme court judge, and one of the moral leaders of the LDS community who even ventured to make one miniscule comment about the incident. and that, without even naming names. i think he said something harmless, but profound, like, "public leaders must be virtuous."
why? because he respected the office of the president, he respected the differing views of those in attendance, etc. helen thomas came here and laid into every republican president she's ever covered. talking about the great ronald reagan, it seemed to PAIN her to even admit he had won the cold war and ended the threat of our nuclear annihilation by snow-covered cossacks.
but she laid the praise on the democrats: jimmy carter, "to whom everyone looks" to solve their problems nowadays. (carter even solved the problem of the nobel peace prize committee, who couldn't find any OTHER ultra-liberal to whom to give the award last year. they had already given one to yassar arafat, and it is too soon to give one to kim jung-il).
and lyndon johnson. he was "the can-do president." (he got us out of vietnam, he prevented our nation from becoming a welfare state...he did it all! oh, wait. he didn't).
and, with respect to criticizing us for how we behaved during her address: we were friggin' angels. can you imagine if rush limbaugh were speaking so boldly at berkeley? he'd be egged, booed, and perhaps shot at. four people booing in a crowd of 15,000 is not bad behavior. neither is walking out. i've walked out on speakers many times. the devotional hour is sandwiched in the middle of the day, and if i start to think my time might be more effectively spent somewhere else, i follow that impulse. and i'll admit, sometimes that impulse comes from my stomach. and sometimes that impulse says, "get a spicy chicken sandwich from wendy's, you hungry, hungry boy." but anyhoo...
so, to even the score, i suggest inviting sean hannity or ann coulter to address us. and when the six democrats on campus start booing him or her, please (i dare you) criticize the whole BYU community for being disrespectful and closed-minded.Posted by travis at September 30, 2003 11:43 AM | TrackBack