History,  Stateside

Does Palin understand “blood libel”?

Sarah Palin has responded to critics of her now-notorious website featuring crosshairs over targeted Congressional districts by saying:

Within hours of a tragedy [the Tucson massacre] unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.

Surely the efforts by some to link the website and gun-related rhetoric directly to the awful massacre in Tucson have been unfair– although most of the mainstream criticism does not directly blame Palin. But “blood libel”? Does Palin even understand the very specific history of the term, applying to accusations that Jews murder Gentile children and use their blood for ritual purposes?

This was a bit too much even for Palin enthusiast Jonah Goldberg, who gingerly suggested that neither she nor rightwing blogger Glenn Reynolds, who also used the term, “intended to redefine the phrase, or that they should have.”

Jeffrey Goldberg offered the hope that Palin, “who regularly expresses love for Jews and Israel, takes the time to learn about the history of the blood libel, and shares what she has learned with her many admirers.”

And while Palin paid generous tribute to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, she conveniently ignored Giffords’s pointed words from last March:

“We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list. But the thing is the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun site over our district. People do that they’ve got to realize there’s consequences to that action.”

She was referring to vandalism at her Tucson office– an infinitesimal act compared to the assault of last Saturday, but violence nonetheless. And a reminder that while physical attacks on US politicians are thankfully rare, smaller politically-motivated acts of destruction and death threats became disturbingly common during last year’s health care reform debate.

Alec adds: More to the point, what is a “pundint” (as my ear heard)?

Update: Sensitive as always to the feelings and concerns of Jews, Pat Buchanan calls Palin’s use of the term blood libel “excellent.”

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