Nappy-Headed Helens: A Tale of Two Racial Slurs

-By Warner Todd Huston

By now if you are a political junkie you know that the Queen of the White House press corps, Helen Thomas, was heard to voice the anti-Semitic sentiment that all the Jews in Israel should “go back to Germany and Poland” where they came from. So far, the tepid response from the oh, so racially sensitive left and the Old Media has been nothing short of breathtaking. But this lack of interest in a racist comment by a high profile member of the media isn’t de rigueur. One must only recall the firestorm that radio/TV guy Don Imus kicked up back in 2007 when he called an African-American basketball player a “nappy-headed ho.” Imus was immediately excoriated and forced off the air. Thomas, however, is being treated with a total lack of concern by the same overly race conscious media that destroyed Imus.

which race, creed, religion or people the evil sentiment is cast. If standing against racism was the goal, one would think that the left and its Old Media buddies would be just as incensed at Helen Thomas wishing a new Holocaust to be reigned down upon the Jews as they all were over Don Imus using a racial slur against some black basketball players. But thus far, Helen Thomas is being given a pass while Imus was at the top of the most shrill news coverage starting only hours after he made his on air comment and lasting for at least a week of condemnation.

As to Imus, he made his comments on his morning MSNBC TV show Imus in the Morning on April 4th, 2007. By that evening groups like the left-wing funded Media Matters for America was all over the story. The story was also big news immediately with the major networks and every newspaper in the country each attacking Imus as wholly untoward.

Two days later Imus was issuing a formal apology even as the National Association of Black Journalists had demanded his immediate firing.

After a week of uproar CBS fired Imus from his radio show over the comment. Not to be outdone, the next day MSNBC also canceled Imus’ show, the very one on which the comment was aired the week before.

By comparison we have the Helen Thomas matter. Thomas’ comments were posted by the website on June 3. The video of Thomas’ outrageous comments was picked up by the popular blog the next day and thence on to the conservative blogosphere. By June 5 some of the major newspapers as well as Drudge had come upon the video and begun to publicize the story. But there has been no firestorm so far to compare to the Imus case.

Also on June 5, Politico was reporting that the Hearst newspaper chain that employs Thomas was blandly saying that Thomas “in no way reflects our views” on Israel but would not state if any further actions would be taken against the Jew-hating reporter.

But notice the footdragging with the Thomas story compared to that of Imus? Imus was being pilloried only hours after his racist comments on the little-watched MSNBC. But we are at three days and counting (as of the time of this writing) and there still isn’t much of a storm of condemnation for Helen Thomas’ wishing all Jews to lose their ancestral home in Israel.

In fact, the left-wing Media Matters has yet to even mention the story. Apparently Media Matters doesn’t mind anti-Semitism.

So what is the difference between how the left and its handmaidens in the Old Media treated Imus and is now treating Thomas? There are several differences, not that any of them are logical or legitimate nor do any of them make the Old Media’s response morally righteous.

One is that Helen Thomas is the queen of the Old Media. They love her like a grandmother despite her racist hatred for Israel and her support for Palestinian terrorists. She could eat a live kitten on TV and the Old Media would just chuckle and say, “that’s our Helen.”

But besides their love for grandma Thomas is the Old Media’s hatred for the Jews. Few in the Old Media will get too worked up over condemnation of Israel and Thomas’ comments likely seem quite sane to these folks. The Old Media sees no reason to get ginned up over Thomas’ attack on Israel.

As to Imus, well he was not one of “them.” He was an irascible white guy that was always off color to a degree. Plus he transgressed the Old Media’s protected racial category: African-Americans. If Imus had made fun of the Jews the Old Media would probably have barely mentioned the incident.

So, as you see, it isn’t “racism” that the Old Media is against, it isn’t against racism per se. It is interested only in upholding its own shibboleths and projecting its own ideology.

In the end, Helen Thomas’ racist desire to see the Jews chased into the sea ala the Palestinian’s race-based military goal is of little interest to the Old Media establishment. Imus saying “nappy-headed hos,” however, was a transgression not to be swept under the rug.

(Originally posted at

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