David Corn wrote the following for Mother Jones:
Sarah Palin is getting slammed today for her Facebook video statement accusing unnamed journalists and pundits who tied the Tucson massacre to the extreme rhetoric of the right of engaging in "blood libel." Palin has a dog in this fight, for in the wake of the shooting, she was assailed for cavalierly using gun-related rhetoric ("Reload!") and for placing cross-hairs over the pictures of Democratic House members she targeted for defeat in November, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). Yet for her to equate the criticism she's received with the genocidal persecution of an entire people demonstrates either ignorance or narcissism. Or both. "Blood libel" is a term that refers to Jews using the blood of children (mainly Christians) for religious practices, and this false accusation has been used to justify violent pogroms against Jews. Palin is not the victim of "blood libel." But leave it to Palin to deploy such incendiary language to stir up a controversy today—President Barack Obama and others are attending a memorial service in Tucson to honor the victims—in order to place herself at the center of the story.Palin cries fowl, claiming she is the victim of finger pointing when she herself is blaming others for the mischaracterization of her rhetoric - everyone knows a surveyor's mark when they see one, right?
Rather than lower the volume, Palin has turned up the heat with this "blood libel" charge. (You can judge for yourself if her use of this phrase has anything to do with the prominence of Jews in the media.) But here's the kicker: in the same statement, she claimed that all participants in the national public discourse ought to eschew name-calling and extreme rhetoric. "We are better than the mindless finger-pointing we endured in the wake of the tragedy," she proclaimed. And she added that Americans have a desire "to respectfully embrace our differences in a positive manner."
Palin's remarks take on a whole new dimension when taking into consideration its religious background and the belief that the media (which Palin often criticizes) is controlled by the Jews and Giffords herself is Jewish. It will be interesting to see Palin's response to the media's reaction to her most recent comments.
Corn sums up her little self-centric post perfectly:
Palin is in an odd spot to be urging respectful debate that handles political and policy differences in a "positive manner." She has shown little regard for facts in policy debates and demonstrated she's willing to accuse her foes of being anti-American. She is the queen of disrespectful rhetoric. Now she compares her critics to violent and genocidal anti-Semites. She could have assailed them in a somber and serious manner, but she chose not to. After all, that's not how Palin got to where she is: a political celebrity who at a time of mourning turns a national tragedy into a Facebook post that at its core is about her.Palin seemed to pick up the term from a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed a couple days ago by Glenn Reynolds. This does not come as a surprise being Palin stated that she reads The Wall Street Journal and the fact that it is controlled by Palin's employer's parent company, News Corp.
Reynolds wrote the following:
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?While I understand the point Reynolds was making, I get the impression that Palin seized on the term without understanding the complete meaning only because Reynolds used it to exonerate Palin. The fact of the matter is that Palin used inflammatory and dangerous rhetoric in her past comments and regardless of whether or not Loughner was influenced by her rhetoric, his actions highlight the danger such rhetoric presents. I think a better example is that of Glenn Beck and the influence his show had on California gunman Byron Williams - why does Reynolds ignore the facts that Williams was inspired by Beck's on-air teachings and based his attacks on the conspiritorial information Beck espoused?
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.
To be clear, if you're using this event to criticize the "rhetoric" of Mrs. Palin or others with whom you disagree, then you're either: (a) asserting a connection between the "rhetoric" and the shooting, which based on evidence to date would be what we call a vicious lie; or (b) you're not, in which case you're just seizing on a tragedy to try to score unrelated political points, which is contemptible. Which is it?
I think when taking into consideration the Williams-Beck connection, it is fair for such relations to be considered, after all, the right does it all the time - if an act of terror is perpetrated or prevented, conservatives immediately blame Muslim extremism. Think of the unncessary criticisms on the Park51 community center the right-wing media dubbed the "Ground Zero Mosque."