imageFormer Alaska Governor Sarah Palin responded today to the Tucson shooting which killed six and wounded fourtneen, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ).  She also addressed the rhetoric from the media and the left who implied, if not directly said, she (along with the Tea Party and conservative radio hosts) were to blame for the shooting.  Despite evidence to the contrary.  In her remarks she used the term “blood libel.”

Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions.  And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. 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.

Her use of the term “blood libel” has sparked another wave of criticism from the media and the left because of the terms historical origin dating back to the Middle Ages.  The term, in that context, refers to a prejudice that Jewish people used Christian blood in religious rituals.  This often led to persecution.

Sarah Palin wasn’t the first to link this term to rhetoric being thrown at her and other conservatives after the Tucson shooting, Glenn Reynolds in an op/ed at The Wall Street Journal published two days ago wrote:

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?

To paraphrase Justice Cardozo ("proof of negligence in the air, so to speak, will not do"), there is no such thing as responsibility in the air. Those who try to connect Sarah Palin and other political figures with whom they disagree to the shootings in Arizona use attacks on "rhetoric" and a "climate of hate" to obscure their own dishonesty in trying to imply responsibility where none exists. But the dishonesty remains.

Unlikely defenders have cropped up in light of this controversy.  Logan Penza (who is no Palin fan and he makes that abundantly clear) at The Moderate Voice writes:

Sarah Palin has it right — it is blood libel to accuse people of a heinous crime in the complete absence of any concrete evidence that they has any causal relationship to it.

Perhaps maybe we should listen to Jewish Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, a liberal, who defended Palin’s use of the term “blood libel.”

The term “blood libel” has taken on a broad metaphorical meaning in public discourse. Although its historical origins were in theologically based false accusations against the Jews and the Jewish People,its current usage is far broader. I myself have used it to describe false accusations against the State of Israel by the Goldstone Report. There is nothing improper and certainly nothing anti-Semitic in Sarah Palin using the term to characterize what she reasonably believes are false accusations that her words or images may have caused a mentally disturbed individual to kill and maim. The fact that two of the victims are Jewish is utterly irrelevant to the propriety of using this widely used term.

Also you can see the term has a much broader context than what some on the left will admit.  One controversy is falling apart as the facts become known about Jared Lee Loughner, so we should have expected they would latch onto another one.

10 comments
  1. Hate to burst your bubble but Obama’s little speech tonight in Tucson was as sincere as a toad. Really bad.

  2. Or she could just have used the term ‘falsely accused’ instead of choosing one so fraught with historical meaning that she (and her staff) were so obviously unaware of but used it anyway for attention.

    1. First I don’t think she was unaware of its historical meaning.

      Second political correctness surrounding this is ridiculous. Tell you what anytime anyone uses the word crucified, as a Christian I’ll be offended. That word is loaded with historical meaning and significance as well, but people use it all of the time out of its original historical meaning.

      By the way, I’m not offended by that.

      Third, not every Jewish person agrees with the ADL – http://www.thejewishweek.com/blogs/route_17/sarah_palin_right_were_looking_blood_libel

  3. First off, the media’s immediate criticism of Palin for the attacks was ridiculous. But I don’t think the video did her any favors. It makes her look as partisan as many of those who were accusing her IMO. She came across as very bellicose, and I think it just gave more ammunition to the Left to accuse her of trying to direct attention to herself. I think she should’ve just basically said that this was a horrible tragedy and that she is praying for a full and speedy recovery for the survivors. That’s it.

    In general, if Sarah Palin said half as much, I think she’d be considered much wiser

      1. Oh, she did? Well, I guess I can sort of understand why she did it then, but I don’t think it helped her any. I think maybe what she should have done is to record the video just as she did, watch it a few times, and then decide, “You know what–I’m angry, but I’m going to shelve this.” Sort of the way experts tell you to write an angry letter or e-mail to vent your emotions, but not to actually send it.

        Of course, the people who love Palin will continue to love her. And the people who hate her will continue to hate her. But her latest move won’t win over those likely to be classified as “independents,” and in fact will probably alienate more of them than it will attract. I’ve heard several comments to the effect, “Her latest blunder has effectively killed any chance of her winning the nomination.” That may be a bit strong, but at the very least, this video probably wasn’t the wisest move she’s ever made.

        To me, Palin is a lot like Britney Spears. (Metaphorically speaking, of course. :)) I have never understood why Britney Spears is so popular, even after all these years. She released a new song a few days ago, and apparently it has shot to the top of iTunes, like several of her other recent singles. I’m constantly left wondering, “Why does she even generate a fuss? What is so remarkable about her or her music?” And I don’t really have an answer. Same with Palin. She’s an attractive woman, and she has a lot of positive qualities, but I just don’t understand all the mania, especially in light of her infamous “retweet” just over a week ago, and her complete silence on the matter ever since then.

        “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!!!”? Make that “Sarah, Sarah, Sarah!!!” 😉

        I sure hope God raises up one of the lesser-known candidates to win the Republican nomination, because I’m just not a fan of any of the frontrunners at this point.

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