Video: “Journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel”; Update: Dershowitz defends Palin

posted at 8:45 am on January 12, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Sarah Palin has given her first extensive public remarks after the shootings in Tucson and the media attempts to blame the Tea Party and herself for the violence. She firmly but calmly rebuts that notion, quoting Ronald Reagan to insist that individuals are responsible for their actions, and that robust political dialogue in a free country should not be blamed for acts of individual lunacy. Palin reserves her harshest criticism, delivered in a tone of sadness, for those journalists and pundits who wound up slandering not just her but millions of people who participated in political activism:

Sarah Palin: “America’s Enduring Strength” from Sarah Palin on Vimeo.

Earlier this week, I told a reporter that a public response would be tricky for Palin. She needed to defend herself but without being seen as descending to the level of the debate as it stood at that moment. Plenty of others were defending conservatives already, but Palin needed to engage the debate on her own terms at some point in a manner that allowed her to rise above the accusatory morass that the media encouraged almost from the hour in which the shootings took place.

This video message affirms the wisdom of that approach. Palin does an excellent job in making her point without lashing out in anger over the attacks, and underscores the importance of personal responsibility rather than group guilt in a free society, the priority of free speech as an underpinning of democracy, and the determination of Palin and the rest of the conservatives to defend those principles. It’s precisely what Palin needed to say, and precisely the manner and forum in which she needed to say it.

Now, what will Barack Obama say?

Update: Some are criticizing Palin’s use of “blood libel,” saying that it refers to a specific anti-semitic charge from centuries ago that Jews supposedly used the blood of Christian children in preparing ritual food. But as Glenn Reynolds points out to Politico’s Ben Smith, Israel uses “blood libel” today to rebut charges of deliberately killing Palestinians, and Tony Blankley used it in a column to describe John Murtha’s accusations against Marines about murders in Haditha. It’s a functional political term.

Update II: Big Government got a statement from Alan Dershowitz, no right-wing sympathizer, on Palin’s use of the term “blood libel”:

The term “blood libel” has taken on a broad metaphorical meaning in public discourse. Although its historical origins were in theologically based false accusations against the Jews and the Jewish People, its current usage is far broader. I myself have used it to describe false accusations against the State of Israel by the Goldstone Report. There is nothing improper and certainly nothing anti-Semitic in Sarah Palin using the term to characterize what she reasonably believes are false accusations that her words or images may have caused a mentally disturbed individual to kill and maim. The fact that two of the victims are Jewish is utterly irrelevant to the propriety of using this widely used term.

That should settle it, but probably won’t.

The transcript follows, via The Corner:

Like millions of Americans I learned of the tragic events in Arizona on Saturday, and my heart broke for the innocent victims. No words can fill the hole left by the death of an innocent, but we do mourn for the victims’ families as we express our sympathy.

I agree with the sentiments shared yesterday at the beautiful Catholic mass held in honor of the victims. The mass will hopefully help begin a healing process for the families touched by this tragedy and for our country.

Our exceptional nation, so vibrant with ideas and the passionate exchange and debate of ideas, is a light to the rest of the world. Congresswoman Giffords and her constituents were exercising their right to exchange ideas that day, to celebrate our Republic’s core values and peacefully assemble to petition our government. It’s inexcusable and incomprehensible why a single evil man took the lives of peaceful citizens that day.

There is a bittersweet irony that the strength of the American spirit shines brightest in times of tragedy. We saw that in Arizona. We saw the tenacity of those clinging to life, the compassion of those who kept the victims alive, and the heroism of those who overpowered a deranged gunman.

Like many, I’ve spent the past few days reflecting on what happened and praying for guidance. After this shocking tragedy, I listened at first puzzled, then with concern, and now with sadness, to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event.

President Reagan said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election.

The last election was all about taking responsibility for our country’s future. President Obama and I may not agree on everything, but I know he would join me in affirming the health of our democratic process. Two years ago his party was victorious. Last November, the other party won. In both elections the will of the American people was heard, and the peaceful transition of power proved yet again the enduring strength of our Republic.

Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions. And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.

There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure.

As I said while campaigning for others last March in Arizona during a very heated primary race, “We know violence isn’t the answer. When we ‘take up our arms’, we’re talking about our vote.” Yes, our debates are full of passion, but we settle our political differences respectfully at the ballot box – as we did just two months ago, and as our Republic enables us to do again in the next election, and the next. That’s who we are as Americans and how we were meant to be. Public discourse and debate isn’t a sign of crisis, but of our enduring strength. It is part of why America is exceptional.

No one should be deterred from speaking up and speaking out in peaceful dissent, and we certainly must not be deterred by those who embrace evil and call it good. And we will not be stopped from celebrating the greatness of our country and our foundational freedoms by those who mock its greatness by being intolerant of differing opinion and seeking to muzzle dissent with shrill cries of imagined insults.

Just days before she was shot, Congresswoman Giffords read the First Amendment on the floor of the House. It was a beautiful moment and more than simply “symbolic,” as some claim, to have the Constitution read by our Congress. I am confident she knew that reading our sacred charter of liberty was more than just “symbolic.” But less than a week after Congresswoman Giffords reaffirmed our protected freedoms, another member of Congress announced that he would propose a law that would criminalize speech he found offensive.

It is in the hour when our values are challenged that we must remain resolved to protect those values. Recall how the events of 9-11 challenged our values and we had to fight the tendency to trade our freedoms for perceived security. And so it is today.

Let us honor those precious lives cut short in Tucson by praying for them and their families and by cherishing their memories. Let us pray for the full recovery of the wounded. And let us pray for our country. In times like this we need God’s guidance and the peace He provides. We need strength to not let the random acts of a criminal turn us against ourselves, or weaken our solid foundation, or provide a pretext to stifle debate.

America must be stronger than the evil we saw displayed last week. We are better than the mindless finger-pointing we endured in the wake of the tragedy. We will come out of this stronger and more united in our desire to peacefully engage in the great debates of our time, to respectfully embrace our differences in a positive manner, and to unite in the knowledge that, though our ideas may be different, we must all strive for a better future for our country. May God bless America.


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Can you just IMAGINE if Sarah Palin did something this tacky?!! They’d pound her into the ground as classless white trash. I am utterly astonished. I cannot believe how much this group in the White House is about to blow this. T-shirts and slogans!!! As Malkin says, they are freaking branding a mass murder for maximum political gain. Just astonishing.

Rational Thought on January 12, 2011 at 7:39 PM

None of this inhuman manipulation of other’s tragedy should surprise us.

To these lovers of the mass murder of the unborn, human lives are truly not important, nothing more than “things” to be used for personal power and gain; to be discarded like yesteday’s garbage otherwise.

As for CK, his takedown of Palin today puts him squarely as a quisling, squatting on conservative turf and even making big bucks for his crap.

He isn’t living on credit cards or paycheck to paycheck. He hasn’t lost his home or seen it’s value bottomed out. He won’t be hurting when the sh*t hits the fan.

He should be drummed out, unceremoniously and ASAP. When he takes down Palin, he’s taking us all down, because she is the ONLY one who is willing and able to do what it takes win the White House from the destroyer.

CK has to go!!!

tigerlily on January 12, 2011 at 7:54 PM

Do we want a President who’s a little more in tune with the mood of the electorate? A presidential announcement on the day of Arizona memorial service?

?

hrh40 on January 12, 2011 at 7:51 PM

nah I don’t see a problem here. Life must go on. I think he would have been better served and got more press if he waited but I don’t think people shouold stop their lives because of one mad man with a gun.

unseen on January 12, 2011 at 7:55 PM

Have heart conservatives I’m sure SourKraut, Tokyo Rove, McCain, Palenty, Mittens, Daniels, SourKraut, Tokyo Rove, Newter, Sanitorium, will all come out and strongly condemn this blatant come-back tour of Obamas’ on the backs of the massacred citizens of Tuscon.

And in another note Boehner today stood like a man and belted out a strong defense of freedom while expressing that business will continue and reflecting sorrow without bawling like a blubbering baby!

SARC/

The RINO herd is a pathetic bunch of pond scum only to be exceeded by the plankton and bottom feeders of the Demrat Left!

dhunter on January 12, 2011 at 7:56 PM

Today? I think I just have come to a sure decision that I don’t want that in my life. Recently, some person was stalking around my neighborhood. My neighbor ran out to tell me about the drama, showing me her gun in her pants in the back.

I’m far more afraid now of the neighbor than the stalker.

AnninCA on January 12, 2011 at 12:02 PM

That’s just embarrassing. Why would you be more afraid of the neighbor who has never done anything to you to indicate hostility, and would probably come to your defense, just because she has a gun, than some criminal stalker.

That indicates a truly irrational fear of an inanimate object.

How about this: crime starts in the heart of the criminal. If you’re going to be afraid, fear the person who wants to harm you!

Or you could arm yourself, take a course in armed self-defense, and not have to live in fear at all.

tom on January 12, 2011 at 7:56 PM

Sheer douchebaggery, IMO.

Tennman on January 12, 2011 at 7:46 PM

either way I think CK has shown this above all.

unseen on January 12, 2011 at 7:57 PM

Do we want a President who’s a little more in tune with the mood of the electorate? A presidential announcement on the day of Arizona memorial service?

?

hrh40 on January 12, 2011 at 7:51 PM

nah I don’t see a problem here. Life must go on. I think he would have been better served and got more press if he waited but I don’t think people shouold stop their lives because of one mad man with a gun TOTUS.

unseen on January 12, 2011 at 7:55 PM

Fixed DAT!

dhunter on January 12, 2011 at 7:58 PM

Washington was our Founding Father, Lincoln was known as the Great Emancipator, Reagan was our Gipper and Palin will be known as America’s Northern Light.

tigerlily on January 12, 2011 at 5:02 PM

Perfectly stated.

gary4205 on January 12, 2011 at 7:58 PM

CK has to go!!!
tigerlily on January 12, 2011 at 7:54 PM

I thought he’d gone. This guy’s like a bad penny.

rrpjr on January 12, 2011 at 7:59 PM

I believe you may be right about this. Last night I saw Tony Blankley on Hannity and he made a comment that really stuck with me. Basically, he said the left is getting away with what they are doing to Palin because “there are many on our own side (i.e., republicans) who won’t defend her.” He said it so matter of fact that it made me feel ashamed of the republican party.

KickandSwimMom on January 12, 2011 at 7:47 PM

That’s what I will start firin’ up starting tomorrow (if nothing else happens in between.) I have thrown hints to the GOP to get their act together; today I wrote to those who won their elections thanx to Palin’s campaign, Palin’s contribution and Palin’s appearances to do the same.

*crickets*

ProudPalinFan on January 12, 2011 at 7:59 PM

Fixed DAT!

dhunter on January 12, 2011 at 7:58 PM

LOL thanks

unseen on January 12, 2011 at 8:00 PM

hrh40 on January 12, 2011 at 7:51 PM

Agree with you that Herman Cain’s timing is off. Also, having Pawlenty out hawking his book telling how experienced and tested he is makes me almost embarasssed for him. He just is not inspiring. I also heard Trump today on Hannity express his serious desire to run as well. My problem with him is that he always comes across as trying to make a business deal. :)

I hate this for Palin. She has lots of establishment barricades on both sides of the political fence to plow through. Drudge is reporting that her aides have gotten an unprecedented number of death threats against her. This is seriously getting dangerous.

KickandSwimMom on January 12, 2011 at 8:01 PM

@ProudPalinFan and Gary 4205 – Thanks!

tigerlily on January 12, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Apparently Krauthammer called Palin’s speech “unnecessary” and “unfortunate” on Brett Bair’s show. WTH is wrong with him?
KickandSwimMom on January 12, 2011 at 7:15 PM

Good. Then she hit home. Elitists on the Left and Right will always let you know when you’ve inflicted pain. Her message was morally piercing and perfectly pitched and struck them to their core. Their bleating proves it.

What infuriates them about Palin is how she always and seemingly effortlessly captures the moment – and the way she gets there is not typically political as in contriving a “political response”, but through common-sense, diehard American decency and moral clarity. “Blood libel” was the perfect declamation, indeed one that was long overdue. The screeching plaints you hear are the early warning cries – “don’t you dare attack the media!”

In my view, Palin needs to press this. She needs to follow this up with a series of high-profile, well-cited and serious speeches on the media – its role in our society and how that role has been corrupted. You won’t just see heads explode but entire enclaves of elites explode.

rrpjr on January 12, 2011 at 8:21 PM

Apparently Krauthammer called Palin’s speech “unnecessary” and “unfortunate” on Brett Bair’s show. WTH is wrong with him?

It’s unfortunate that Palin has to portray herself as the victim of the shootings. It’s part of her never-ending personification of victimization. You’d think she might realize that those killed were the real victims and that she’s merely part of an unfortunate sideshow.

But give her credit, once again she’s found a way to keep her name in the spotlight.

bayam on January 12, 2011 at 8:37 PM

As an avid comment reader, here’s an informative one I found over at Jen Rubin’s:

This is what linguists call “semantic bleaching”: over time, words and phrases lose their literal meaning, as they are used in more and more tangentially related ways.

“Blood libel” now means “an outrageously unfounded accusation.”

Posted by: Inagua1 | January 12, 2011 2:28 PM

Semantic bleaching…learn something new every day!

marybel on January 12, 2011 at 2:54 PM

I’m not so sure I agree with this. But maybe I’m just anti-semantic…

tom on January 12, 2011 at 8:40 PM

i never said palin was to blame for the shootings. she’s responsible for ignorantly misusing a term in a way that offended people. on your last point, i resent the soft bigotry of your low expectations.

sesquipedalian on January 12, 2011 at 3:10 PM

I guess metaphors are too complicated for sesquipedalians.

tom on January 12, 2011 at 8:46 PM

this does show that once you knock the “leaders” on the left for a loop thier followers are rudderless and can not respond.
unseen on January 12, 2011 at 5:33 PM

just practicing on how to be a lefty troll. how am i doing?
unseen on January 12, 2011 at 5:35 PM

Not very good, not good at all really.
Wayyyyyyyyyy to coherent to be a lefty troll.

DSchoen on January 12, 2011 at 8:49 PM

It’s pretty ironic that bayam is free to comment here freely and be as critical or derisive as he wants to be of folks here, or conservative politicians — but that bastion of liberalism, Huffington Post, strictly censors comments critical of the Left, creating a pathetic echo chamber. Btw, bayam, not sure how after enduring four days of viscious, unfounded attacks before responding is “playing victim” or seeking the limelight when Leftist pundits, anchors and commentators put a spotlight on her before the blood had congealed on the pavement. Sickos.

EasyEight on January 12, 2011 at 8:50 PM

But give her credit, once again she’s found a way to keep her name in the spotlight.

bayam on January 12, 2011 at 8:37 PM

If she keeps her mouth shut, she’s in hiding. Proof of guilt.

If she defends herself, she’s making herself the victim. Proof of guilt.

Hey, here’s a shorter rule: Whatever Palin does is wrong!!

But try as you might, you won’t be able to sell it to the rest of the country.

tom on January 12, 2011 at 9:06 PM

bayam on January 12, 2011 at 8:37 PM

You’re not listening or you have a comprehension problem. I can’t be more charitable.

Have you watched, read or heard the attacks against her over the past days? Direct, overt blame for the murders from significant quarters on the Left, and implications from the rest.

Did you read or hear her response?

You cannot have done both with any level of attention and claim, with any intellectual honesty, that she was “portraying herself as the victim of the shootings.”

Really, do you read and pay attention, or simply decide in advance what you want to say?

rrpjr on January 12, 2011 at 9:09 PM

Brian Williams looked a little aghast after Andrea Mitchell’s hatchet job on Palin with her selective speakers calling her ignorant and other such things. She selectively also did not site Alan Dershowitz who supported Palin’s “blood libel” statement. Obviously Andrea was very irritated by all of this and presented a very unprofessional hit piece on NBC Nightly snooze.

wepeople on January 12, 2011 at 9:13 PM

Oh great, Obama is campaigning on this tragedy.

http://michellemalkin.com/2011/01/12/branding-the-tuscon-massacre-together-we-thrive-in-white-and-blue/

jaboba on January 12, 2011 at 6:35 PM

This Wellstone Memorial Moment, brought to you by…

Midas on January 12, 2011 at 9:51 PM

But give her credit, once again she’s found a way to keep her name in the spotlight.

bayam on January 12, 2011 at 8:37 PM

Catastrophic, monumental stupidity.

Midas on January 12, 2011 at 9:52 PM

In my view, Palin needs to press this. She needs to follow this up with a series of high-profile, well-cited and serious speeches on the media – its role in our society and how that role has been corrupted. You won’t just see heads explode but entire enclaves of elites explode.

rrpjr on January 12, 2011 at 8:21 PM

THIS. Turn the Dems “teachable moment” on them. Let’s strengthen Sarah Palin with support, prayer and intellectual defense. Let’s take another Dem favorite, “top down, bottom up and inside out” and make it our own for bringing back the Constitutional Republic of our Founding Fathers.

tigerlily on January 12, 2011 at 9:52 PM

But give her credit, once again she’s found a way to keep her name in the spotlight.

bayam on January 12, 2011 at 8:37 PM

It was BLOOD LIBEL, she had to defend herself.

the_nile on January 13, 2011 at 12:47 AM

There are many people in this country, in the Republican party, and in my own family and group of close friends and relatives who think this Woman is a wonderful person, but just isn’t ready to be President. They have many reasons and excuses why they feel this way, from her inexperience, to her resignation of the Governorship, to her enemies insistence that she is evil, or the medias assertion she is unqualified.

None of these people listen to reason or opinion when they discuss the pros and cons of her candidacy or the possibilities of her as a future President of the United States. I am especially struck by the lack of defense of her by Republican establishment politicians. It is clear to me that none of them will endorse her, or allow her any respite from or support against the attacks on her character and qualifications by the Dhimmicrat machine and the media. It is quite apparent this is because they hope she will founder on her course and be destroyed by her enemies and they can pick up the spoils and move ahead without her.

I ask myself if that is the kind of leader I want running my country? A man who would allow liberals and establishment Republicans to destroy a person simply because they would rather she not be in their way? And then I answer myself, that if they could do that to her, they would surely do it to the American people. Is that the kind of Leader of this country we want?

We are seeing right now what that kind of leadership entails. Paying off cronies and contributors to Dhimmicrat campaigns with US taxpayer funds, buying off businesses run by powerful contributors whicch are failing, and using US tax money to resuce Wall Street Dhimmicrats, Banking Dhimmicrats, Drug company Dhimmicrats, Public Sector and private sector Union Dhimmicrats, and academics and charlatans who insist on pursuing false ideologies in the name of “green energy”, “social justice”, and persecuting their opponents in business, churches, political parties, and even in Congress.

The previous Congress shut down investigations into so much Dhimmicrat corruption, it boggles the truly just mind…..

And this Woman stands up amongst all this dishonesty, backstabbing, and crony capitalism, and says it is wrong….

……and receives no support from a single Republican politician in the entire establishment.

If the Republican party cannot hang together, and support the only clear voice supporting conservative principles, consistently, evenly, and without reservation or fail, then the Republican party deserves to lose, to be moribund and destitute, and to suffer for the next generation in the wilderness. Their actions over the last 40 years, in supporting policies which spend ever more money on laws which have produced no substantive improvement in the American way of Life are the result of not being true to their principles, to always knuckling under to “bad press” and to failure to support those who stand in the way of mortgaging the American future in favor of winning another election, or receiving accolades from people who hate them as they hate no other human.

Do I really want a squishy Republican leader who would let a good Woman be destroyed simply because she stands in the way of his ambition? As one who has sworn an oath to defend the Constitution with my life, now and forever, the answer is, not on your life or mine…..

Until Republican leaders can band together and defend each other, they will always be defeated by petty and evil people who want nothing more than to twist their own words to make a trap for Fools…..

So far, I have seen only one person with the balls to speak the Truth no matter how much heat She receives……

It is patently obvious she is sincere, articulate, and intelligent, and has a firm grasp of the principles America was built upon. What more do we need in a Leader? She has Courage beyond anyone in politics today. She has Conviction in spades. And she has Commitment to the American people far beyond any other politician in public life today. Those who cannot see it will never see it and care not for its use in politics anyway.

If she doesn’t write her own speeches, so what? None of our politicians do. But the words she uses to provide her positions ring with far more Truth and conviction than any other words today.

I know of no one else in America today who has more qualifications to be President. She loves her country more than her own Life. And that makes her far more qualified than any sh*thead leading us today, in any state, in Congress, the Supreme Court, or the White House.

Subsunk

Subsunk on January 13, 2011 at 1:43 AM

ABC News want healing?

http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2011/01/the-note-obama-palin-and-arizona-a-tale-of-two-speeches.html

Some nutball kills people in Arizona and the lefties immediately start blaming conservatives and, of course, their “Darth Vader” of the month: Sarah Palin!!! LOL!!!
I guess the “Blame Bush” theme is starting to peter out…

ABC News:

….”Does she want to be a uniter and a national leader instead of one of the country’s most polarizing figures?”

…. “But she also used the address as a defense of herself and a critique of the media. Instead of trying to get beyond this controversy, Palin has put herself back in the middle of it.”

Wow! The media attacks her and she is then attacked for defending herself? Sarah Palin was probably in Alaska when this psycho started shooting people in Arizona. The lefties start blaming her for the attack and then blame her for putting herself “in the middle of it.” How does that work?

shorebird on January 13, 2011 at 1:50 AM

Wow! The media attacks her and she is then attacked for defending herself? Sarah Palin was probably in Alaska when this psycho started shooting people in Arizona. The lefties start blaming her for the attack and then blame her for putting herself “in the middle of it.” How does that work?

shorebird on January 13, 2011 at 1:50 AM

I think it reduces down to two rules:

1) Sarah Palin is wrong!!!

2) No matter what she does, remember rule 1!!!

There Goes The Neighborhood on January 13, 2011 at 2:28 AM

The left has no shame because they don’t believe in personal responsibility…That won’t change…

Gohawgs on January 13, 2011 at 2:29 AM

So I read the transcript earlier and was impressed (sorry to post so late; it’s 2am on the West Coast), but now after watching it…..

HOLY SH*T, SARAH PALIN KICKS A$$. I LOVE HER SO MUCH.

What is WRONG with the Republicans that they can just leave her to defend herself alone like this? Is there no chivalry left? Oh, well. Obviously, she doesn’t need those losers: they need HER. I hope she lets them drop on their a$$es some day. With a charming smile to boot.

Animator Girl on January 13, 2011 at 4:53 AM

Palin knocked another Home Run. I’m proud of her. DD

Darvin Dowdy on January 13, 2011 at 7:48 AM

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