"Blood libel", writes The New York Times, is "generally used to mean the false accusation that Jews murder Christian children to use their blood in religious rituals, in particular the baking of matzos for passover. That false claim was circulated for centuries to incite anti-Semitism and justify violent pogroms against Jews." Sarah Palin, courageously aligning herself with the Jews, referred to the claims that she is in some manner responsible for the carnage in Tuscon as "blood libel" in a message posted today on her Facebook page.
This is a very exciting idiomatic development, because for too long parties on both side have been relying on the generous and seemingly random use of "Hitler" as a political slur. George W. Bush was Hitler. Obama is Hitler. Now Palin is expanding and improving upon the WWII analogy by throwing the suffering of the Jews into the mix.
It was certainly unpleasant and distasteful when pundits on both sides (there are only two sides) responded to the tragedy by excitedly finger-pointing, but responding to some of the more hysterical accusations of some left-wing commentators by claiming kinship with the Jews is also unpleasant and distasteful (it would be even if Representative Gabrielle Giffords didn't happen to be Jewish).
But my primary objection to her use of the phrase involves her choice of forum. Facebook? Isn't it possible there's a more symbolic, more creative, more "no matter how reasonable David Brooks and other moderate Republicans might be, don't forget about all those loons" way to get one's point across?
Enter the Palmetto State Armory, which is, according to (inevitably) The Huffington Post, releasing a limited edition line of AR-15 assault rifles with the words "you lie" engraved on the lower receivers. "You lie" was what Rep. Joe Wilson (R - S.C.) yelled during an Obama health-care reform speech (when the President claimed the new legislation wouldn't provide illegal immigrants with medical care).
If this weapons manufacturer can honour Joe Wilson, could another weapons manufacturer not seize this exciting opportunity to honour Sarah Palin? I think "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 that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible" would look just dandy on an assault rifle.
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