Krauthammer: Palin’s Statement on Tucson ‘Unfortunate and Unnecessary’
Charles Krauthammer responds to Jewish criticisms of Sarah Palin’s use of the term “blood libel.”
He mainly laments that Palin gave the speech at all. Sure, it might be a sensitive issue given that Gabrielle Giffords is Jewish, and she’s fighting for her life while the rest of the nation debates allegations of “blood libel”? I’m personally not bothered by the use of the term as it’s applied to the libelous attacks on Palin and tea party conservatives. Frankly, Glenn Reynolds’ essay at WSJ the other day has been one of the most penetrating: “The Arizona Tragedy and the Politics of Blood Libel.” Harvard’s Alan Dershowitz vigorously defended Palin today. And Joe Weisenthal at Business Insider writes that “Sarah Palin has finally weighed in with a long, thoughtful reaction to the Arizona tragedy and all the talk that it was somehow the result of ‘heated rhetoric’.” There’s still lots more up on this at Memeorandum, but see the Los Angeles Times, “Sarah Palin Video on Giffords Aftermath Stays True to Who Palin Is“:
The video had elements of a presidential-level address, with an American flag featured prominently in the frame. Palin spoke in a calm tone – noticeably different from her rousing “mama grizzly” style during last year’s election campaign – about the democratic process and the need to condemn violence “if the republic is to endure.” She appealed for a common response to the tragedy, saying, “We need strength to not let the random acts of a criminal turn us against ourselves, or weaken our solid foundation, or provide a pretext to stifle debate.”
She released the video on the same day that President Obama traveled to Arizona to speak at a memorial service, and won a position opposite the president on many news outlets. By comparison, potential GOP candidates Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee this week issued statements on the shootings that went largely unnoticed.
Ken Khachigian, a former speechwriter for Presidents Nixon and Reagan and a longtime GOP strategist in California, said he was struck by Palin’s bearing in the video, saying he thought the former vice presidential nominee “appeared more grown-up.”
“She captured some of what she did at the [Republican] convention in ’08,” he said. “She was more conversational, more dignified.”
In her message, Palin did not refer directly to accusations that her use last year of a map showing Giffords’ Arizona district, among others, targeted in crosshairs helped foster a climate of violence. Instead, she said, “After this shocking tragedy, I listened at first puzzled, then with concern and now with sadness to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event.”
The resulting “blood libel” serves “only to incite the hatred and violence that they purport to condemn,” she said. “That is reprehensible.”
Jewish groups and others reacted swiftly, saying Palin had associated her political plight with centuries of anti-Semitic behavior. A “blood libel” is a term that dates back to the Middle Ages, when Jewish people were accused of using the blood of Christians in religious rituals.
“Palin’s comments either show a complete ignorance of history or blatant anti-Semitism,” said Jonathan Beeton, a spokesman for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who, like Giffords, is Jewish. “Either way, it shows an appalling lack of sensitivity given Rep. Giffords’ faith and the events of the past week.”
But Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz, commenting Wednesday on the Big Government website operated by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, defended Palin’s use of the term.
“There is nothing improper and certainly nothing anti-Semitic in Sarah Palin using the term to characterize what she reasonably believes are false accusations that her words or images may have caused a mentally disturbed individual to kill and maim,” Dershowitz said.
More at the link.
And previously: “The Great Communicator: Sarah Palin Calls Out Despicable ‘Blood Libel’.”