Wednesday, January 12, 2011

blood libel?

I have political views, but I do not use this platform, that is this blog, to articulate them.

However, as I came in from shoveling snow just now I saw something on Yahoo that just flabbergasted me.

I see that the 2008 Republican Vice Presidential candidate has used the term "blood libel" in a message.

Governor Palin has responded to intimations and accusations that what motivated the shooter in the Arizona killings were gun analogies. Governor Palin and others had employed such analogies when identifying sitting Democratic congresspersons who were targeted by Republicans as those who should be ousted in upcoming elections. One example of the shooting metaphor was a map of the United States on which rifle sight icons had been inserted at places where Democrats were coming up for reelection. Representative Giffords had been such a congressperson seeking reelection.

Governor Palin has objected to the accusations that she and others have spurred the maniacal behavior of the perpetrator of the shootings. She has said that such accusations are an example of "blood libel."

This is an astonishing statement. Any Jew who has a remote sense of history knows that "blood libel" has been used by antisemites for close to 900 years (867 to be precise) to disparage, accuse, prosecute, and kill Jews. Movie goers and/or readers may recall the Malamud book and subsequent movie, The Fixer, which deals with a blood libel case. Those familiar with WWII history know that Der Stuermer was a Nazi newspaper that employed the blood libel (and others) to justify the elimination of the Jews.

Okay so the target in the Arizona killings is a woman who when campaigning identified herself as a Jewish woman. The shooter had a copy of Mein Kampf among his possessions. And a presidential aspirant uses the term "blood libel" in her formal scripted messages.

It is either one thing or another. She is either (a) using this expression to subtly stir up her conservative base, "you know those liberal Jews in the media", or (b) she is a simpleton with a staff of simpletons who know nothing of history and are not curious enough or industrious enough to vet formal messages.

I will give her the benefit of the doubt. She is a simpleton. She has no clue of history and has no desire to discover much about it. She surrounds herself with people who, incredibly, have never heard the expression "blood libel." The members of her "thinktank" were plucked from the streets of Chelm. (This allusion will have no meaning to her).

My outrage at this usage is not so much that it is beyond insensitive to people who have been slaughtered in the name of it, but rather that there are people who are considering this simpleton to be the leader of the most powerful country in the world.

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