Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Is Sarah Palin Ignorant or Just Plain Insensitive?

In a polished eight-minute video defending her inappropriate comments, including the now-famous fund-raising image of cross-hairs over Representative Gabrielle Giffords’ district, Sarah Palin continues to make things worse for herself. She accuses the media of manufacturing “blood libel” to incite the kind of violence that struck Tucson this past weekend.

Hopefully, Representative Giffords will recover swiftly and will be able to speak for herself very soon. While I don’t want to put words in the Jewish congresswoman’s mouth, Palin’s remarks are an insult to Ms Giffords and Jews everywhere. And they should be an insult to Christians, too. “Blood libel” refers to the medieval assertion that Jews used the blood of Christian children as an ingredient in cooking of matzoh - unleavened bread. It has become a popular tag line among anti-Semites both in ancient times and today.

I’m not accusing Sarah Palin of being anti-Semitic. But Ms. Palin is a professional communicator and I’m sure her YouTube videos and Facebook pronouncements are vetted by experienced message handlers. This inappropriate choice of words could not have been accidental.

Republicans are masters of Orwell’s Newspeak: if an untruth is repeated often enough, it is taken for truth. Witness the legion of Obama birthers, “death panels”, and other commonly oversimplified lies coming from the Republican Tea Party. That’s what makes Palin’s remarks dangerous and frightening.

For some reason, Ms. Palin is being given a free ride by the media. Howard Dean’s crying and George Allen’s “macaca” moment were important factors in their respective campaign failures. Sarah Palin’s insensitive remarks are far more incendiary. In her own words, she should unequivocally “refudiate” them immediately.

Thank you to my friend LHK who provided the impetus to post this article.


  1. “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.”

    -- Alan Dershowitz

    Sarah Palin's video was a gracious and civil response to the despicable lies spreading all over the liberal media that she was somehow complicit in the murder of six people. Given that there is not a scintilla of evidence that she, or any other conservative, had any influence on the attacks, referring to these fevered fantasies as a blood libel is perfectly appropriate.

  2. No one in the so-called "liberal media" is suggesting that Palin is complicit in this act of terrorism. Prior to the tragedy, it was pointed out that her actions, along with those of many of her compatriots, were inappropriate and at best mean-spirited. Posting targets on congressional candidates or Angle's talking about "second amendment remedies" have no place in political discourse.

    No one will even know what motivated Loghner to do what he did. Perhaps without Palin and lax gun laws, he would have still caused the carnage of last Saturday. But could the toxic messages from the right and the ease of obtaining guns and ammo have been a catalyst? That's certainly within the realm of possibility.

  3. Amazing. In your first paragraph you say no one is suggesting Palin is complicit. In the second paragraph you hold out the faint possibility ("perhaps") that she might not be complicit. Is it within the realm of possibility that she is? Only in the sense that it is within the realm of possibility that Al Gore is a space alien.

    To project your fantasies onto people like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck when there is absolutely no indication of a connection is ... well the best description of it is a blood libel.

  4. Oh, and it should be noted that in Obama's excellent speech last night, he verbally slapped down those trying "never to let a crisis go to waste".

    He said "let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy--it did not--but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud."

    The three words "it did not" were ad-libbed, they were not in the prepared text. He has apparently had enough of divisive speculation. No "perhaps", no "realm of possibility", only an unequivocable "it did not".

  5. It is sadly amusing to see how the right wing squirms away from responsibility for the violent rhetoric and name-calling. Sure, the left is as guilty of name-calling, but has not resorted to calls for violent overthrow of the government. Actions have consequences.

  6. Just to compare and contrast, this is what an actual threat of violence looks like:

  7. It is still an actual threat of violence. Anyway, it's time to throw in the towel. The game is over. What the left is promoting is a self-defeating witch hunt. So sayeth the New York Times.

    Here is an excerpt:

    "Now we’ve settled into the by-any-means-necessary argument: anything that gets us to focus on the rhetoric and tamp it down is a good thing. But a wrong in the service of righteousness is no less wrong, no less corrosive, no less a menace to the very righteousness it’s meant to support."

    Read the whole thing: