[j]ournalists 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 - Sarah Palin, responding to criticism leveled at her following the Gabby Giffords assassination attempt
The sound you hear is, of course, me banging my head on the table.
Of all the actions Sarah Palin could have taken, she chose to play the victim card.
Of all the things Sarah Palin could have said, of all the words in the English language, she chose the phrase “Blood Libel.”
Jesus Hopalong Christ, you’ve got to be kidding me.
Blood Libel, for those one or two of you who don’t yet know, is just about the single most vile label Palin could have used. Blood Libel refers to the persecution of Jews specifically by Christians. Not by crazy people. Not by Nazis. Not by pagans. Not by Muslims. Not by Kings or nations or terrorists. No. Blood libel refers specifically to a heinous and evil story perpetrated by Christians and used to justify the torture and killing of Jews. No more. No less. It does not mean anything else and non-Jews don’t get to co-opt it for their own use. Blood libel specifically refers to a common Christian belief that began in the Middle Ages when the Catholic church began to spread a rumor that Jews tortured and killed Christian babies by recreating the Crucifixion, then drained the murdered child’s blood and used it to make their unleavened bread – which they then supposedly ate during Passover. As a result of this pervasive blood libel myth Jews were commonly harassed, persecuted, made outlaw, driven from their homes and villages, falsely accused of every single crime imaginable and few that weren’t (including, you know, child molestation and rape that was actually conducted by Church priests, but I digress), imprisoned, tortured, and brutally murdered all at the hands of Christians. The belief in blood libel and the resulting pogroms and purges went on for centuries – and, in fact, still continue to this very day in dark places around the world. There is very good reason to believe that certain Christian churches and Christian leaders (churches and Christians that I shall leave unnamed) either turned a blind eye to, or even actively assisted, the Holocaust due to blood libel and a belief that Europe, indeed the world, would be better off without Jews. And don’t get all smug thinking that it doesn’t happen in America, because it does. Today, right now, Holocaust Deniers use blood libel to justify their foul and noxious beliefs, spreading rumor and false accusations against Jews via modern communications technology. Do a Google search, use the terms “Elders of Zion” for starters and expand your search from there and see if I’m engaging in hyperbole – it didn’t take me ten search iterations to find blood libel screeds propagated right here in the United States by good God fearin’ morally superior Christians. Go ahead, see what you get.
For any Christian to assume this term for themselves, let alone a fundamentalist such as Palin in the context of her own victimhood, is disgusting enough. For her to use it in this specific context – i.e. the attempted assassination of a Jewish Congresswomen, and murder of her Jewish intern – goes so far beyond the pale that it powers straight into the obscene on full afterburner. Remember, this is a woman who spent two weeks and thousands of words telling the world how utterly “devastated” she was by the use of the word retard; her deliberate and hypocritical use of an anti-Semitic epitaph, especially this one in particular so laden with a very particular form of ethnic bigotry, followed by brushing off criticism for using the word - saying in effect, hey, it’s not my fault if you take it the wrong – is exactly, exactly, what sparked criticism of her in the wake of the Giffords shooting.
Yes, the sound you hear is me continuing to bang my head on the desk.
The woman is either the meanest bitch ever to walk the earth, or dense as a block of solid neutronium. My vote is on the later.
Given Palin’s track record I really want to ascribe her anti-Semitism to simple ignorance and her continued self-inflicted victimization (the woman is the political version of a cutter) but I can’t. I just can’t. I simply cannot believe that in this very specific context, given the cast of characters involved and the horrifying events that have occurred, that Sarah Palin did not use those very specific words and that very specific label without malice aforethought. No, given that both she and Glenn Beck attempted to co-opt the black Civil Rights movement for themselves, I have to believe that this is just one more example of her overpowering lust for attention and one more facet of her maggot ridden character.
This event, more than any other word she has spoken, should clarify in every American’s mind just how utterly unfit Sarah Palin is to occupy elected office. Any elected office.
Here’s what a real leader and someone of character would have said:
First, allow me to offer my heartfelt condolences for the victims of this terrible tragedy. I know that some of you don’t believe in prayer or a higher power, but I do, and I pray to that power to speed the recovery of Congresswomen Giffords and those who were so grievously injured. I pray that those who died find eternal peace according to their own beliefs, and even though I know that nothing can ever replace lost loved ones, I pray that the victims’ friends and families will find their own comfort in the coming days. I know that I am most likely the very last person they would take help from, but if there is anything I can do, I will.
Second I would like to address the criticism directed towards myself in the wake of this horrific event. You may rest assured that I have done some deep soul-searching over the last few days. I regret certain things, but I honestly do not believe that I am responsible for the actions of Jared Lee Loughner. However, I can see how others might read the words I have written and listen to the words I have spoken and come to different conclusions. I can see how certain unbalanced individuals could take my words, or the words of others, spoken in passion or in the heat of the moment, as leave to commit unconscionable acts and even if Mr. Loughner did not, others might.
This terrible event brings to light something I did not realize, or did not realize completely, and that is this: words have power, and power has consequences. Because so many people listen to my words, I wield a certain degree of influence. I knew this, but did not realize it’s extent. I know that some feel this influence, this power, is unearned. I don’t agree with them, but they are entitled to their opinion. Regardless, that power exists. With this power comes a certain responsibility, one that I only fully realized after reflecting on recent events. And while we do not know what ultimately motivated Jared Lee Loughner, it seems prudent to wield that power tempered with restraint.
I cannot take back what has been said – modern politics and the Internet’s long memory make any attempt to do so futile. I’m not asking you to forgive me and I won’t apologize for what I or others may have said, many of you would doubt my sincerity anyway. However, I can see now that those statements may not have been the wisest choice of words. Accordingly, I promise that from this moment forward I will no longer use phrases alluding to or encouraging violence against my political opponents, even in metaphor, in even in jest. I will not allow those who speak for me to do so either. I ask that my fellow politicians, both Republican and Democrat do the same. I ask my fellow journalists to do the same. If I have even a small degree of the influence that people say I do, then I ask that all of us, every single American, do the same. Let us bring back a degree of civility to American politics – and if, as some people say, such civility never truly existed, well then let us create a new era of respect for each other. Let us remember that we are all Americans, both on the left and the right and in the middle, we are all Americans.
Today let us stand together as one and join our President in a moment of silent reflection, each according to our own beliefs, for the victims of this terrible tragedy.
Thank you, and good night.