I received the following response from Wayne State University in regard to its decision to continue using the name of Helen Thomas on their media award. Below it immediately is my own response to Mr. Burns’ email.
You be the judge. Does WSU have the moral ground on which it bases its decision to keep the name? The fact that WSU is located in Michigan, is that a factor, which may have affected their decision?
Thank you for your e-mail.Â The President’s office has asked me to respond to your well considered points.
Wayne State University, the Department of Communication and the Journalism program do not in any way support or condone theÂ recent comments made by Helen Thomas.Â The university has been clear that itÂ condemns these wholly inappropriate comments.
Wayne State University established the Helen Thomas “Spirit of Diversity in the Media” award ten years ago to honor distinguished journalists and underscore the importance of a diverse American news media. Wayne State chose alumna Helen Thomas as the award’s namesake in recognition of her professional achievement as the first woman chief of UPI’s White House Bureau, and a Washington correspondent who covered 10 U.S. presidents during her distinguished career.Â Proceeds from the award program have been used to support journalismÂ students of all backgrounds, cultures, races,Â and religions.
The UniversityÂ believes that this serious lapse of judgment, for which she has apologized, should not entirely overshadow her many years of exemplary service to her profession, and the pioneering spirit she demonstrated in closing the gender gap in journalism.
Ben Burns, Director, Journalism Program
Dear Mr. Burns,
Thank you for your quick response.
Fortunately, I have been following Ms. Thomas since 1979 right after I graduated from college. She has a history of bias against human rights in the Middle East by subjecting it to the “stability” Litmus test as well as a bias against US allies in general, including Israel and the dissident communities at large. This is not a lapse but rather a trend.
I, like many others, regret your decision.
P.S. Your email and response will be posted on my Blog at ghadry.com