Helen Thomas’ Alma Mater Ends Diversity Award Named After Her

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Retired journalist Helen Thomas reignited the controversy regarding her views about Jews and Israel last week at an Arab-American workshop in Dearborn, Michigan. Thomas, who was forced to apologize and retire last spring after saying Jews “should get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home,” said in a speech last week that “Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street are owned by the Zionists.”

In response, Wayne State University announced it would end the Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Award.The University said it “strongly condemns the anti-Semitic remarks made by Helen Thomas,” according to the Detroit Free Press.

On Sunday, Thomas, 90, responded to the move by telling the Press that “the leaders of Wayne State University have made a mockery of the First Amendment and disgraced their understanding of its inherent freedom of speech and the press.”
The University gave out its 10th annual Helen Thomas Awards in April. This years recipients were Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. and Lynette Clemetson, founding managing editor of TheRoot.com. Thomas grew up in Detroit, and graduated from Wayne State, and later went on to a legendary career as a White House correspondent.

Yesterday, Arab-American leaders met with university officials, and asked them to reverse the decision. Arabdetroit.com reports that the University promised to give leaders a response by Friday.

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Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website?s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl@talkingpointsmemo.com
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