Let’s perform a little thought experiment. Let’s pretend that, instead of the statement that Sarah Palin released Wednesday morning, she released a completely different one, a statement that made no mention of a “blood libel”, a statement in which she humbly apologized for using over-the-top rhetoric and violent imagery and promised never to do it again — in other words, the groveling statement her liberal critics say she should have made. How do you suppose it would have been received?
I can tell you how it would have been received. MSNBCs smugly self-righteous Keith Olbermann, his voice an octave lower than usual (as it always is whenever he pronounces his judgments on evil right-wingers), would have called it “unconvincing, insincere and manipulative”. Chris Matthews would whine, “too little, too late. She should have made that statement long before last Saturday.” The New York Times‘s Paul Krugman would denounce Palin for using the word “tragedy” instead of “atrocity” — no, wait, he already did that, after she offered her condolences on her Facebook page Saturday.
Let’s be honest. It doesn’t matter what Sarah Palin says or does. She’s going to be viciously attacked for it.
Yes, Palin is polarizing, and her statements are inflammatory. But this is not an indictment of Palin, because the people who get inflamed by her words are the ones who already hate and fear her. They’ll find anything she says to be inflammatory. If her famous (or infamous, depending on which side of the divide you’re on) Facebook map had daisies instead of crosshairs on it, Palin-haters still would have denounced her. They would have claimed she was implying that the Democrats in the targeted Congressional districts should be pushing up daisies.
Let’s talk about crosshairs, and the “violent” symbolism they supposedly represent. (BTW, the “crosshairs” post was never taken down from Palin’s Facebook page, as Keith Olbermann and others have alleged; you can view it here.)
First of all, the map didn’t target individuals. It identified 20 Congressional districts that were carried by the McCain-Palin ticket in 2008 where the seats were held by Democrats that voted for Obamacare. It was an appeal for funds to help defeat those Democrats.
Second, Democrats have used similar symbolism. In 2004, the Democratic Leadership Council posted a map targeting states for likely Democratic gains.
Finally, so-called “violent” symbolism is common, not only in politics, but in business and sports. The very day of the Tucson shooting the New York Post ran a front page with crosshairs superimposed over the face of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, with the screaming headline, “STOP HIM!” (a reference to the Jets’ playoff game that evening with the Colts; BTW, the Jets won, 17 – 16). In fact, the word “campaign” is an old French word meaning a series of military engagements. A military engagement, in case you didn’t know, is when a lot of armed men go out and kill a lot of other armed men.
The left punditry’s reaction to Palin’s statement on Wednesday was of a piece with their reaction to everything she says. They seized on two sentences in the entire eight-minute talk: “…Within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.”
Blood libel! Horrors! Doesn’t she know the term refers to the lie spread by anti-semites in the Middle Ages, the lie that Jews kidnap and kill Christian children and use their blood to make matzoh? Doesn’t she know how hurtful this phrase is to Jews? Some critics, pretending to be charitable, said she probably didn’t know the history of the term — a backhanded way of saying she’s ignorant.
And, of course, they all pronounced Palin’s political future DOA, just as they did right after Saturday’s shooting, just as they did after the mid-term elections, just as they did after she agreed to do a reality TV series, just as they did after she said, “don’t retreat, reload”, just as they did after Doug Hoffman lost his bid for that New York Congressional seat, just as they did after she resigned as governor of Alaska, just as they did after the 2008 elections, just as they did after…
There’s no doubt that all these folks wish Palin’s political future was DOA. The fact that it isn’t undoubtedly is one of the main reasons they hate her so much.
There’s a reason the Left wants Palin to stop posting “crosshairs” maps and refrain from using metaphors. It’s because they are so effective. Take her “crosshairs” map, for instance; Republicans won 18 of the 20 targeted Congressional districts. Yes, the map aroused the troops (eek! another violent metaphor!) — to reach for their checkbooks, not their guns. It was the Left that went crazy when they saw the map.
Or take one of Palin’s most famous metaphors — “death panels”. When she first used the term on her Facebook page, she wasn’t referring specifically to end-of-life counseling. Rather, “death panels” was a concise expression meant to point out something that should be obvious to anybody with common sense, namely that the only way you can expand health care coverage to more people while at the same time reducing the total cost is by withholding care to some people under some circumstances. Her metaphor may not have been enough to defeat Obamacare, but it was enough to get the obnoxious end-of-life counseling section removed.
“Blood libel” is another metaphor, and a very apt one, at that. Contrary to what some of Palin’s critics claim, the term, while originally referring to a lie that sparked medieval pogroms, has come into more general usage to mean any false accusation that tries to link an innocent person to murder. No less a personage than Alan Dershowitz came to Palin’s defense on this one. And it is apt, because she has been falsely accused; just take a look at this.
I think Sarah Palin knows exactly what she’s doing. She used the expression “blood libel” deliberately, just as she used the phrase “death panels” during the health care debate. It is the perfect expression to describe the mainstream media’s feeding frenzy over the preceding three days. And I’m sure she knew it would provoke outrage on the part of some people. Why am I sure of this? Because every time Sarah Palin is viciously and unjustly attacked, she just gets stronger.