In the wake of the shooting of Gabrielle Gifford and others in Arizona, it took no time at all for Sarah Palin to paint herself as the true victim. Facing criticism for her use of “lock and load” and “targeting” opponents, including a map with a crosshairs on Giffords, Palin responded. Using Facebook instead of Twitter (how do you invoke “blood libel” in 140 characters or less?), Sarah Palin lashed out at her critics:
But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible. [Facebook, 1/12/11]
Leaving aside the inaccuracy of her statement – the fact that no Democrat put a crosshairs on Palin after the Tuscon shooting or said “lock and load” with regards to her, and her apparent belief that “free speech” applies only to her – Palin was justly criticized by Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, for her appeal to the phrase “blood libel.” As Media Matters relates, this unleashed a torrent of right-wing rhetoric on the subject of blood libel.
Andrew Breitbart got into the act too:
So as the usual talking heads begin their “have you no decency?” routine aimed at talk radio and Republican politicians, perhaps we should turn the question around. Where is the decency in blood libel? [WSJ.com, 1/10/11]
That started a feeding frenzy on the right, as first Palin, then Breitbart, then blogger Glenn Reynolds used it, and everybody else just as quickly tried to defend it:
On January 9th, the Washington Examiner’s Mark Tapscott wrote:
It appears tonight that many corners of the mainstream media are in full-attack mode seeking to present the Tucson tragedy as the fault of the Tea Party movement and anybody else who has dared in recent years to criticize Democrats, Big Government, Barack Obama, or Obamacare.
Incidentally, I think Reynold [sic] is exactly right to use the term “Blood Libel” to describe the attempt to discredit political opponents by associating them with murderous acts of violence. [Washington Examiner, 1/9/11]
A day later, a Washington Examiner editorial went further, attacking Paul Krugman, who had earlier spoken of the creation by Republicans of a “climate of hate” in the process (how can you let an opportunity like that slip by?):
Jared Loughner, the gunman charged with wounding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and murdering six others in Tucson on Saturday, held bizarre beliefs about “conscious dreaming” and government mind control imposed through English grammar. No serious person would connect his belief system to a mainstream political ideology. But then there’s New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. He places the blood libel of blame for the Tucson murders squarely on the shoulders of “the crowds at the McCain-Palin rallies” and “right-wing extremism.” It’s the Republicans’ fault because “the purveyors of hate have been treated with respect, even deference, by the GOP establishment.” Krugman’s solution is for “decent people” to “shun” those he holds accountable. But the logic of his argument leads straight to calling for official restrictions on political speech after shunning inevitably fails to do the job. The totalitarian temptation is an ever-present possibility with people like Krugman. [Washington Examiner, 1/10/11]
Now, of course, Sarah is not retreating but reloading, and she blasts back at her critics, including the Jews, who ought, after all, to know their place and not criticize Esther Reborn:
Try to follow her logic if you can (pre-medication is recommended if you can get it):
HANNITY: And, you know, some of your critics saying, you didn’t know the historical significance. Other people criticized you for that phrase. But I want you to address the timing and that phrase.
PALIN: I don’t know how the heck they would know if whether I did or didn’t know the term “blood libel,” nobody has ever asked me. And “blood libel” obviously means being falsely accused of having blood on your hands. And in this case that’s exactly what was going on. And yes, the historical knowledge that people have of the term blood libel, it goes back to the Jews who were falsely accused back in medieval European times of using the blood of children. And you know, the criticism of even the timing of this statement is being used as another diversion, because I believe that there are many on the left, many critics, who don’t want, for instance, Congress, to buckle down, get back to work.
There’s this trifecta thing going on in our country right now that’s going to bring America to her knees if Congress doesn’t start addressing the issues at hand. That being our growing debt, a looming energy crisis if we don’t start domestically developing our resources, and some of the national security policies that have been adopted and enacted, like the signing and the ratification of the START treaty that Russia’s Duma won’t even ratify because there are misinterpretations of what the preamble means.
So, we have these things going on right now that have got to be addressed, and Congress has got to get back to work. And it’s just much easier, I believe, for critics of common-sense conservative agenda to try to divert and distract from the issues at hand, those tasks that
must be addressed today.
HANNITY: What did you think of the criticism of those, though, in the Jewish community about the use of that term? I know others came to your defense, but what did you think about the critics?
PALIN: I think the critics, again, were using anything that they could gather out of that statement. And I’m, you know, you can — you can spin up anything out of anybody’s statements that are released and use them against the person who is making the statement. But, no, I appreciated those who understood what it is that I meant, that a group of people being falsely accused of having blood on their hands, that is what blood libel means. And just two days before I released my statement, an op-ed in the “Wall Street Journal” had that term in its title and that term has been used for eons, Sean.
PALIN: So, again, it was part of that double standard thing and goes back to if it weren’t for those double standards, what standards would they have, I suppose.
I think we can glean from Palin’s piece the following:
- She knows what blood libel means and used it in full cognizance of that knowledge
- She doesn’t know what trifecta means
- It’s not her fault; it’s a liberal plot to distract America. Liberals did not criticize her because she said something stupid but for their own nefarious purposes – in other words, cause and effect don’t exist in the Palinsphere.
- She continues to be willing to misrepresent facts to serve her own ends, in this case the ratification of the START treaty by the Russian Duma, the delay, according to ITAR-TASS being the announced American plans to build a missile defense system. In point of fact, on January 14, according to ITAR-TASS “The State Duma has passed in the second reading the bill on the ratification of the new START treaty with 349 votes to 57” and that “the text of the treaty signed by the Russian and U.S. presidents was unaltered.” The first reading was passed on December 24th and the third will be on January 25th. There is no suggestion made that the treaty will not also pass on January 25th.
- Those Jews who criticized her had no right to criticize her
- She thinks in childish terms: They did it first (Wall Street Journal) so I can do it too. One aspect of this she overlooks is that the Wall Street Journal op-ed was not by a person pulling the “blood libel” line in defense of themselves for saying something stupid but a third-person perspective of the rhetoric of blame. Sure, “blood libel” has been around for a long time (not eons, which are billion year increments of time and she doesn’t even think the earth is that old) but it’s been around because it’s an anti-Semitic accusation, not because it’s an anti-Sarah Palin accusation.
For Sarah Palin, blood libel is just a couple of words, just another term. Its historic weight and significance are meaningless. Millions of Jews have died because of anti-Semitism directed at them by centuries of rabid and unreasoning Christian hate. So far as I know, Sarah Palin has not. Nobody has so much as tried to shoot her (unlike the unfortunate Gabrielle Giffords). Not to mention the fact that Sarah brought about her own problems; the Jews did nothing to deserve what happened to them. You’re confusing magnitudes of sin, Sarah.