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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Sarah Palin and the blood libel

And who the heck is now writing for Sarah Palin? I just Googled Sarah Palin blood libel and it's already coming up as a predictive search item once you've typed the bl of blood. Mrs Palin has, one reads, issued a video statement accusing her political opponents of creating "a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn". This, you will understand, is in response to people having said, following the weekend's shootings in Arizona, that, as Bill Clinton put it, all in politics "cannot be unaware of the fact that - particularly with the Internet - there's this huge echo chamber out there". Some people, in other words, have ventured to suggest that politicians' inflamatory words might sometimes spark violent actions - how does this amount to Mrs Palin being the subject of a blood libel? Clearly, nobody would suggest that Mr Clinton might have been thinking, among other examples, of a website indicating which Congressmen Mrs Palin wanted to be defeated in November's mid-term elections, complete with an image of a rifle's crosshairs targeting Mrs Palin's hoped-for losers. I would not argue that, and nor would any libel lawyer of my possible acquaintance. Gabrielle Giffords herself apparently warned of the "consequences" of such imagery as that used on Mrs Palin's campaign material, but I would not dream of agreeing with Congresswoman Giffords that such imagery might remotely have contributed to the atmosphere in which somebody decided to shoot her. Perish the thought.

In The West Wing, they often said that political campaigners are always on either offence or defence, and Mrs Palin is certainly on offence tonight. Actually, her invocation of the blood libel does not truly offend me (although I understand why it is offensive), but it does strike me as being assinine and incredibly beside the point. Had I come up with something like that in a speech that I'd drafted, the speaker would have asked for his money back - even on those occasions on which I wrote for nothing, this material is so awful that the speaker would have asked for his money back. It beggars belief that she actually thinks that this is a sensible contribution to any debate that is worth having. One wonders when Mrs Palin first actually heard of a blood libel, and whether anyone has actually told her what a blood libel really is? The blood libel is the medieval conspiracy theory based on the belief that Jews murder Christian children so as to use their blood to bake unleavened bread for Passover. Assinine really is the only word.

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