Sarah Palin jumped the bigotry shark today, and bloggers are trying to explain just how offensive her comments really are. Mark CC of Good Math Bad Math gives a terrific summary, but I can’t help but give my take on this.
The shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords and 19 others happened in a particular time and place, and history will look back at this context in trying to understand the event. What Sarah Palin and others in the New Right are arguing is that context is meaningless; that their inflammatory, violent rhetoric is irrelevant (and that the left is just as bad, which is patently absurd—we hate guns, remember?). This anhistoric view is typical, and is typified by Palin’s cry of “blood libel”.
Let’s summarize events:
- Right wing reactionaries use gun rhetoric and Christian imagery and language to speak to their base, including such statements as “don’t retreat, reload”, and posting pictures of “targeted” districts like Rep. Giffords’ with gun sights on them.
- Giffords is gunned down by a presumed nut-job who easily purchased a firearm and ammunition, a “right” favored by the New Right. He drew and fired on her point blank range, rendering idiotic any claims that being personally armed could have helped her.
- “Blood libel” is a specific term referring to anti-Jewish violence in Europe. Christians claimed that Jews murdered Christian children for their blood, and Christians would use this to justify genocidal violence over the course of centuries, and culminating in the Shoah (Holocaust). The Nazi’s did not always use blood libel imagery, but they certainly encouraged it in their European collaborators, especially in Poland and Russia.
- Giffords is a Democrat and Jewish.
- Palin is a Republican and Christian.
- Palin claims that calling her out on her violent rhetoric as having anything to do with political violence is “blood libel”.
- Irony meter explodes.
Palin, who favors eliminationist rhetoric directed at, in this case, a liberal Jewish Congresswoman, absolves herself of any responsibility for the violence just happens to bear close resemblance to her rhetoric. Part of her reasoning is that it’s just rhetoric, and the guy was a nut. She then claims harm from the rhetoric leveled against her. Irony meter reassembles and explodes again.
I’m not one to see an anti-Semite behind every door, but this is blatantly anti-Semetic rhetoric, giving a whole new appearance to the attack. Palin’s claims of not knowing what “blood libel” is are meaningless, as she has handlers who, in contrast to their boss, are educated.
They should all be ashamed.
But of course, they have no shame.