Sarah Palin released a video Wednesday accusing her critics of "blood libel" for suggesting that conservatives and, more specifically, her crosshairs map showing Gabrielle Giffords were responsible for the Tucson shooting this past weekend.
In her first public statement since last weekend's massacre, Palin had this to say:
"Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own," she said. "They begin and end with the criminals who commit them."
I agree with her statement in part. In the end, the fault lies with the gunman and he should pay the price. No, Sarah Palin shouldn't go to jail for her statements and neither should Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly and their ilk, those pundits who relentlessly stir people into a frenzy of hate with their words and actions.
They shouldn't go to jail, but they should at least be self aware. And judging from Palin's video and Bill O'Reilly's statement yesterday, it seems very unlikely. Here is Palin's statement:
Her statement was profoundly sad. Because regardless of whether she actually believes the gunman acted alone and that the hate rhetoric from her camp had nothing to do with it, the least she could do was say she understood the hate needs to stop. The least she could do is promise that she will do her best to tone it down and keep the talk peaceful and stop using gun metaphors disguised as political discourse.
Instead, she was defensive. She blasted "journalists and pundits" for:
Manufacturing a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn.
In short, she totally missed the point. The defensiveness must stop. It's sick and wrong from both sides. If Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow had that map, I would be saying the same thing. But they didn't. Sarah Palin did. And nowhere in that video did I see any understanding from her that words have meaning. That words, specifically her words, contribute to a culture that is angry and broken and that both sides need to do our best to stop it.
In following with the "words have meaning" theme, let's follow the historical significance of "blood libel." Blood libel has historically been the false accusation that minorities -- and almost always Jewish people -- drink the blood of Christian children. It was used primarily in the European persecution of Jews. For her to use that now shows such historical ignorance, it's astounding. Is this really a woman we can admire? Is it better if she is ignorant or if she purposely conjured the image of pogroms, rampant anti-semitism and the lead-up to the Holocaust when describing her own "persecution"?
As the Chicago Sun-Times said so eloquently, we WERE warned of this:
For more than two years, sensible people have been pleading with their fellow Americans to tone down the rhetoric, to quit with the demonizing, to end the fear-mongering. In what kind of country, the sensible people asked, do political leaders across the board not condemn a sign at a rally that reads: “We left our guns at home — this time”? In what kind of country do people show up at presidential speeches with guns on their hips? In what kind of a country do callers to radio shows routinely smear those with whom they disagree — beginning with our president — as “traitors” and “un-American,” while pandering hosts say only, “Thanks for the call.”
It doesn't matter what side the hate is coming from. Right or left, it needs to stop. It needs to stop because our culture is sick and our country -- whether you can see it or not -- is on the rapid decline and anger and accusations like this only serve to hasten it.
I wanted to be angry this morning when I saw this video, but what I really am is sad. I am so sad that rather than come together, we just divide further. I am beginning to think there really is no solution.
What do you think of her video?
Image via VMEO