Sarah Palin: Liable or Libeled?

I was prepared to point out how the media are succumbing to the paper-tiger arguments from right-wingnut outlets that the so-called “left” is accusing Sarah Palin of whispering in the disturbed inner ear of Jared Lee Loughner urging him to shoot 31 rounds into Democratic public officials and their supporters.

I was prepared to point out that there are, of course, wingnuts on both political sides: on the far left shouting about blood on Palin’s hands and on the far right shouting about Obama saying he’d bring a gun to their knife fight.

I was prepared to highlight the fact that most liberal/left commentaries are merely pointing out relatively objective realities. The level of incendiary rhetoric is too high for civil discourse and putting gun sights over congressional districts is irresponsible in such a highly charged political atmosphere, regardless of the presence or absence of schizophrenia and far-right delusional, conspiratorial thinking in the U.S.

I was prepared to try to put to rest the baloney that there’s no political bent to Jared Lee Loughner’s disjointed anti-government writings that repeat far-right conspiracy theories about mind control through grammar, about so-called conscious dreaming and about the anti-Constitutional nature of a currency not backed by the Gold Standard. The guy may espouse incoherent fringe ideas, but these are, definitively, far-right incoherent fringe ideas.

That’s the blog post I planned to write. But then, I (and thousands of my fellow commentators) were accused this morning of “blood libel” against Sarah Palin. The Fox News commentator aired, on her Facebook page, a video expressing condolence. Then expressing confusion, then shock then anger, and finally righteous indignation for being called out for her incendiary rhetoric and irresponsible electioneering tactics leading up to the tragic shootings in Arizona. She accused us of manufacturing blood libel against her.

I checked my publications. I checked my Facebook page. I checked my twitter feed. For the life of me, I couldn’t find anyone accusing Sarah Palin of being Jewish. I searched my own and many other commentaries from a wide variety of pundits and reporters. I didn’t find a single instance of anyone accusing Sarah Palin of sacrificing Christian children and using their blood to make matzoh.

At a time of searching for answers, a time of mourning the loss of life, a time of collectively putting our heads together to see how we can lessen the chances of this tragedy repeating itself, Sarah Palin very publicly turned the spotlight onto what she perceives as grievous wrongs perpetrated against her.

Against her.

Seemingly ignorant of the meaning, origin, or painful impact of invoking the phrase blood libel, Palin once more failed in her position as a public figure and once more inflamed passions through irresponsible rhetoric. Though occasionally and imprudently used as a phrase to generally refer to wrongful accusation, the phrase blood libel has historically referred to lies spread by anti-Semites seeking to destroy the Jewish people. False accusations of Jews killing Christian children to use their blood in Jewish ritual has served as an excuse for mass-murdering Jews throughout history. It’s an inexcusable, genocidal term.

Anyway, I was going to write about how we must examine and change inflammatory rhetoric, especially as used by public officials in this highly polarized and economically insecure time in our nation.

But Sarah Palin has made the case so much better than I ever could.