Roving thoughts and provocations

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Blind Libel

Sarah Palin in a video statement released on January 12, 2011

Robert Draper, who did the extensive interview-cum-article about Sarah Palin in The New York Times Magazine, still has good sources in her camp. On that basis, he told the Daily Rundown show on MSNBC that Palin timed her morning statement on the Tucson tragedy to play against the president’s anticipated speech later that day. The setting and solemnity of her presentation were manipulated to show who could be more “presidential,” she or Obama. That is a measure of her aspirations and arrogance.

This makes it all the more astonishing that careful work with her speech writers should produce her attack on pundits who “manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn.” What on earth does that mean? The classic blood libel tale has four elements.

1. Jews kill an innocent Christian child.
2. Then they use his blood to cook Passover matzahs.
3. The Jews are then captured and executed.
4. The murdered child becomes a martyr-saint—Saint Simon, Saint William, Saint Hugh.

How does what happened in Tucson fit that pattern?

1. An innocent Christian child was murdered, but by a non-Jew.
2. No use was made of her blood (the point of a blood libel).
3. The murderer was caught but not executed.
4. The girl was offered as a saintly model by the president.

There is not enough there to justify invoking the dread tale. How about if we look at other elements.

1. There was an attempt on innocent life, that of Gabrielle Giffords, but she is a Jew, not a Christian, and she was attacked by a non-Jew.
2. Once again the key element, the use of blood, is missing.
3. Her assailant is caught but not killed.
4. The president presents her recovery as a kind of miracle.

There are even more missing elements in this scenario. Nothing that happened in Tucson can be forced into the blood libel story. That is because Palin is not interested in what happened in Tucson. She is interested in something closer to her home—herself.

1. The innocent Christian attacked is Sarah Palin, and her assailants are “pundits.”
2. Still no blood.
3. The pundits are not even named, much less apprehended.
4. Saint Sarah canonizes herself.

Note that, cast about how one may, it is impossible to find a single Jewish attacker in the Tucson story. A blood libel without evil Jews and without blood is not a blood libel.

Though Palin is a Christian, she does not claim that she was attacked for her religion. Her offense was that she was simply “speaking up and speaking out in peaceful dissent.” The pundits who attacked her were “those who embrace evil and call it good.” That puts her in the middle of a cosmic struggle, with the forces of evil arrayed against her. Perhaps she liked the apocalyptic note in the sound of “blood libel.” Only something catastrophically evil could measure the extent of her martyrdom. If people point out that she obviously does not know what a blood libel is, she will just count that another part of her martyrdom by those who “embrace” evil as well as history.

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