Political Flavors

Political Flavors: Guilty of Blood Libel Since 2011

Posted in Editorials on January 13th, 2011

On Saturday, liberal blogger Atrios tweeted “The real victim today is Sarah Palin.” When I read Sarah Palin’s statement yesterday, at first I was relieved. She spoke about peaceful assembly, shaking hands and finding common ground. Over the past week I have heard calls for unity from people on the right – moderates that I know personally. But nothing from people with a lot of influence. Finally, someone in power on the right is stepping up. Palin, however seemed not to be able to help herself. She did not stop with simple condolences and a call to tone it down. Palin proved Atrios right when she compared criticism of her rhetoric and the idea that it might have played a part in Saturday’s violence in Arizona to “blood libel” – the anti-Semitic belief that Jews kill Christian children and use their blood to make matzoh for Passover. This is especially appalling, considering that Congresswoman Giffords is Jewish.

Sharon Angle issued a similar statement, denying that repeatedly calling for “Second Amendment remedies” would influence anyone to actually shoot someone. What else could she have been calling for?

I do not believe that Sarah Palin or Sharon Angle are guilty of the deaths or injuries of the people shot on Saturday. I think that the violent, hateful and eliminationist rhetoric of the American Right as a whole – including talk radio, television shows, internet forums blogs and comments, and the signs and slogans of the Tea Party did play a part. No one person saying or writing something inflammatory is to blame, but as a whole their impact on the political climate in America was significant. In addition there was the actions of the shooter, (hat tip) our insufficient mental health services, and the ease at which a person, a deeply troubled person no less can acquire weapons that can do so much harm so quickly. However, I stand by my statement that it’s dangerous to deny the role that our political climate plays in these things.

I’m not the only one. Several moderate Republicans have resigned this week because they have been receiving threats from Tea Party members. In addition, some Republicans are speaking out against the vitriol they see in their party. Mike DeMoss, a conservative Christian tried to get Governors and Members of Congress to sign a civility pledge. He has since given up

The worst e-mails I received about the civility project were from conservatives with just unbelievable language about communists, and some words I wouldn’t use in this phone call,” he said. “This political divide has become so sharp that everything is black and white, and too many conservatives can see no redeeming value in any liberal or Democrat. That would probably be true about some liberals going the other direction, but I didn’t hear from them.”

After listening to President Obama’s speech, I considered my point of view. I was deeply moved by his words and I liked that he was calling for unity. However, I must concur with Peter Daou:

Nothing contradictory about praising Obama’s speech and simultaneously warning that one side’s language of incitement risks more tragedies

Finally, this video from Media Matters founder David Brock on the subject should be re-posted everywhere.

Leave a Reply