Palin says rhetoric not to blame for Arizona shootings, but recent history suggests otherwise

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, left, and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin

Within hours of the Saturday, Jan. 8, shooting spree in Tucson, Ariz., that left six dead and 14 — including the gunman’s apparent primary target, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — wounded, a nationwide discussion — perhaps “argument” is a better word — had begun over the role that extreme political rhetoric had played in the massacre. And one of the first names to pop up in that discussion was that of Sarah Palin, the former Alaskan governor and former vice presidential candidate turned rightwing political pundit and reality TV star.

Giffords was one of the Democratic members of Congress who, in a campaign flyer posted on Palin’s website, had been “targeted” for defeat by Republicans in last November’s elections. The flyer included a graphic of a map with the “targeted’ districts marked by gunsights. That flyer along with Palin’s “don’t retreat, reload” comment, along with Nevada rightwinger Sharon Angle’s “Second Amendment remedies” comment, have gotten a lot of play in the days since the shootings.

Palin’s people took the flyer off the website within hours of the shooting, but it wasn’t until today that Palin herself spoke up, releasing a video in which she declares that political rhetoric had nothing to do with the shootings in Arizona  and decrying the “irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame” for the massacre to her and other rightwing pundits. The responsibility, Palin declared, lies solely with the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner.

Since we don’t know yet — and really may never know — what prompted this young man to open fire at Giffords and the others on Saturday, I find myself agreeing with Palin, at least a little. Let’s get our facts straight, so to speak, before we start laying blame.

—  admin

Once again, Sarah Palin digs hole deeper

Sarah Palin decided to answer what she called “irresponsible statements” that placed some of the blame for the Arizona shootings on politicians like her who put political opponents in the crosshairs of a rifle site.

Sarah Palin

“Journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel,” she said.

Was she purposely using anti-Semitic imagery in the shooting of a Jewish congresswoman in her own self-defense?

Blood libel was a story manufactured to justify killing Jews. It refers to the story that Jews kill Christian babies to use their blood for the Passover seder.

The name “Passover” comes from the Biblical story that when the Jews were slaves in Egypt, God sent plagues to convince Pharaoh to “Let my people go.”

One of the 10 plagues was the death of the first-born. Jews marked their doorposts with lamb’s blood to indicate that they were not Egyptian, and the angel of death passed over Jewish homes, sparing their first-born.

The blood libel used since the Middle Ages said that Jews tortured and killed Christian babies to use their blood in baking matzo, the unleavened bread eaten during the weeklong holiday. It probably originated in the 12th century during the first Crusade.

The blood libel was used to justify the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290, the expulsion of the Jews from Germany in 1348, the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 (also known as the Inquisition), pogroms in Russia and all sorts of anti-Semitic violence up through the Nazi extermination of 6 million Jews in concentration camps.

For Palin to use the term in her own defense is a new low for the former Alaska governor.

At best, use of the term was just a refudiation — an inappropriate and incorrect use of a term that she had no idea would be so offensive.

But I don’t give her a pass. This is a woman who could have been vice president of the United States. She crossed a line between simply offending opponents while defending herself — and blatant anti-Semitism.

In calling this a blood libel, was Palin saying that she is justified in putting the congresswoman in the crosshairs because Gabrielle Giffords kills Christian babies? Sound ridiculous? That’s what the blood libel implies.

Go here to watch the full seven-minute Palin diatribe.

—  David Taffet