Sarah Palin has a video out this morning that addresses the criticism she’s received in the wake of the Arizona shootings, sort of. It’s an odd piece of self-defense, chock full of God, American exceptionalism and claims of victimhood. Media Matters sums it up: “Violent rhetoric doesn’t inspire violence — but criticism of violent rhetoric does.”
Beyond the bizarre logic is the pointed use of the term “blood libel” which refers to a hoax and lie used to justify sustained and brutal violence against Jews. Anthea Butler at Religion Dispatches fills us in:
Blood libel, a term rooted in medieval Christianity, started as a rumor that Jews were killing Christian babies, and using their blood to mix into matzoh. The blood libel, refuted first by Pope Innocent IV through a series of papal bulls, has nonetheless persisted throughout history as a way for Christians at times to scapegoat Jews. Palin, by calling the media’s alleged persecution of her a “blood libel” plays into this evil history by inference. But does she understand how this comment of blood libel appears anti-Semitic? Not only is Rep. Giffords Jewish, but accusing the media of “blood libel” could be seen as playing into anti-Semitic memes that Jews control the media.
The chances are quite good that Palin had no idea what the term meant. As Dave Weigel pointed out this morning, she wasn’t the first to use it since the shootings on Saturday.
Even so, in Palin’s narrative as a senselessly victimized individual in her storyline of “blood libel,” who then is Gabrielle Giffords?
Thankfully William Saletan clears it all up for us: collective blame for monstrous crimes is really only ok when the collective is Muslim.