Sunday, January 16, 2011

Blood libel

Sarah Palin pushes buttons. No doubt about it.
She and her handlers tried to anticipate president Barack Obama's speech in Tucon, Arizona. Their attempt to second guess him proved a failure. Obama's speech did not brand with the mark of Cain, which Palin feared she would be by allusion named as a purveyor of the lunatic fringe of politics.
After the shooting in Tucson, Palin, at first, kept a low profile. Then, she sent a message of sympathy to Glen Beck to air, and gritting her teeth, she quietly removed the 'crosshairs' on her website of her opponents, one of which was the seriously wounded Giffords.
Yet her message on YouTube to the shooting of congress woman Gaby Giffords, the killing of 6 and the wounding of 13 made matters more exasperating.
Palin uses violent language. If she's not a pitbull with lipstick, she has her targets in 'crosshairs' and urges her followers to reload guns. She is the poster girl of the Tea Party and the extreme right.
Suddenly she was the 'target', not Giffords nor anyone else Democrat or Republican. Palin clothed herself in the anti Semitic garb of 'blood libel'. Blood libel refers to the alleged practices of Jews who slaughter young Christians for blood for the Passover matzot. Her use of 'blood libel' is dismayingly improper, and Jewish rabbis and groups have denounced her for using it.
Nonetheless Palin has staunch defenders among high powered, right wing Jews. Harvard's Alan Dershowitz, for one, rushed to defence, saying, broadly and metaphorically speaking, Palin's use of the phrase was 'on target': Palin used the term as a critique of 'Big Government', a watchword by Tea Baggers and the Republican right wing for the cancer that is eating the body America, the destroyer of 'the values of our founders', in order to support Democracy with Socialism. For the flamboyant lawyer who is the dragon slayer of any critic of his reputation or Israel, he even went so far as to argue that since the Middle Ages 'blood libel' has evolved in meaning. Has it? The Nazis used it!
Palin's use of 'blood libel' gives one to pause. Surrounded as she is by Jewish neo cons - among whom her cheer leader William Crystal - one has to wonder who suggested the mischevious and noxious use of 'blood libel' to Palin, with a view to wash her of the sins of encouraging violence.
Of course, under the First Amendment, she has the right to freedom of speech, but as Giffords presciently remarked, 'words have consequences'. And Palin cravenly refused to acknowledge effects her speech engenders. But the matter does not lie there. It is broader in scope and far more dangerous.
Palin and Beck & co. are introducing into the polarised mix and coarseness of the American political lexicon, expressions and writings of anti Semites, thereby sowing the seeds of right wing extremism. Suddenly excuses are being made for dusted off racial and political hatred, as though a page had been copied from the fascist days of the 1920's and the 1930's.
Palin's use of 'blood libel' is an expression of the dangerous times the US is weathering today. To excuse dusted off anti Semitism is unpardonable.

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