“Blood Libel”

I honestly don’t even know where to start with this nonsense. Anyone who could use this term, when discussing the attempted assassination of a Jewish congressmember, about her own non-Jewish self

I wonder, I really do, sometimes, if some Christians in America really grasp that Jewish people exist and are not just metaphorical characters in history and the Bible one might adopt as a part of one’s identity, the way people feel attached to Hobbits and imagine themselves Hobbit-like, because they think they have similar characteristics.

Otherwise, the only people who I know who regularly use this phrase are historians and anti-Semites. If you aren’t a historian and aren’t Jewish, that’s where you encounter it. My whole twitter feed this morning was filled with folks who had no idea what it even was. It’s not a widely known or used phrase. And, as they pointed out over at Shakesville, it’s not one you are likely to come to on your own, since it makes no sense out of context. “Blood” and “libel” don’t mean anything next to each other if you don’t already know the meaning of the word. If you had to look at it and guess, you might think it had to do with people lying about who’s in your family.

But Palin used it like she knew what it means, and so we must assume she does.

And that is… deeply troubling, to put it mildly.

35 thoughts on ““Blood Libel”

  1. Certain fundamentalist churches — and heck, even some retrograde Catholic churches — preach on the text in Matthew every Easter. I am guessing that her church is one of those. Ironic, isn’t it, that she recognizes the concept that blood can be on someone’s hands that didn’t actually commit the murder?

    At best, it’s exceptionally tone deaf and at worst, it’s a dog whistle. I just wish she could exercise a little self-restraint and stfu.

  2. But Palin used it like she knew what it means, and so we must assume she does.

    As noted on KnoxViews on Monday, Glenn Reynolds got this ball rolling in his WSJ column.

    I’m presuming that the ADL thought Reynolds of substantially lower profile, as they didn’t comment on this “blood libel” nonsense until Palin picked it up. But now they’re on the case. And good for them.

    I hope the UT faculty is also paying attention.

  3. B, a quibble. Anti-Semites don’t use the phrase “blood libel,” since they don’t consider accusing Jews of murdering Christian children after first draining their blood to make matzo a libel. Yes, I’m quibbling with you rather than addressing what Palin said, since what she has said is so far beneath contempt as not to be worth replying to.

  4. NM, I’m sad to have to tell you that they indeed do. They put quotes around it like it’s ridiculous, but they use it all the time as evidence of Jewish people’s ability to make up things to complain about in order to cast yourselves as victims. They are “blood libel deniers,” I guess you could say, but the only people I ever knew who talked about blood libel were neo-Nazis and they talked about it all the fucking time.

  5. Gimme an example of a quote in context, then. I’m not getting it. What do they say:”gee, there I was just painting swastikas on a synagogue and someone came along and accused me of ‘blood libel’ when all I was doing was exercising my First Amendment rights”?

  6. How do you purport to call for civility in discourse, as Reynolds has been, when you’re slinging loaded terms like that around? Palin might not have known what she was saying (though I should think her speechwriter did) but Reynolds has to know better. What level of doublethink and retconning does one have to engage in to ignore that contradiction?

  7. I chalk it up to lack of empathy — the ability to imagine the other as fully human and thus capable/likely to be hurt by stupid utterances.

  8. @Samantha: I would suppose that if you are apparently internalizing the belief that you are an oppressed minority (as it seems to me that Reynolds is), then appropriating someone else’s history thereto doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch.

    Because he really can’t make a case for his alleged victimhood otherwise.

    “When you have neither, pound the table” as the saying goes.

    (And while I trust that the painful passive voice here correctly conveys the point that this is my interpretation of what’s going on in this regard, I’ll just make that explicit here.)

    It boggles my mind, too, that people who would claim that they are riding an endless tidal wave of popularity (as Palin would hold) would immediately cower behind such ninny language at the first whiff of public criticism. Which is it? Undeniably popular or categorically oppressed?

  9. No, I’ve heard it repeatedly brought up in discussions of how Jews control the media and of how you love to cast yourselves as victims so that everyone will feel sorry for you and not suspect you of running the world. So, I have heard both that Jewish people did used to use the blood of babies in matzoh, but were able to invent this PC-bullshit phrase, “blood libel” to keep anyone from teaching the truth about Jewish people.

    And I heard that, since you control what gets put in history books, y’all were able to invent a smear against Christians that we accused you of using the blood of babies in matzoh and used that as an excuse to persecute you when, of course, we never did, because WE ARE GOOD PEOPLE blah blah blah.

    So, I don’t know if that is clear. I mean, I know it’s convoluted in the way that conspiracy theories are, and I’m not in high school or college any more, so I’m not forced by fate to interact with neo-Nazis, so I could be misremembering details.

    But my sense is that, even back in the early 90s, in these circles, “blood libel” was almost on the verge of being redefined as “the lie about the lie”–“Jewish people are lying about us lying about them in order to impugn white people.”

    I’d be curious, somewhat, to know how white supremacists are using it now (if they still are), but not enough to go look. And, let me be clear, these were central Illinois white supremacists. I don’t know how widespread their beliefs were among white supremacists in general.

  10. And, let me be clear, these were central Illinois white supremacists.

    There’s only one way to deal with Illinois Nazis…

  11. Well, all of you completely lost the argument on Palin creating some existential “climate of hateful rhetoric” so now you’ve moved on to the semantics of claiming she’s insensitive to Jews because she responded to critics, like yourselves, implicating her in a mass murder. While she’s being defended by Alan Dershowitz.

    Nice show.

    I apologize for claiming you had any sense in that previous thread. You clearly do not.

    The only contest now is to see how far you’ll dig your heels in on being wrong in every conceivable aspect of this whole affair.

    Maybe the ADL will go after that Instapundit’s job. I know how this crowd loves going after people’s jobs unless it’s one of their own.

  12. Oh my god! Are you really sitting around, still, after all these years reading my blog because you think this is some redemption story, where, if only you wait around long enough, I will realize you are the smartest smarty and strive to be like you?

    Nice. Well, don’t let me stand in your way. Once you’re done ascribing all kinds of nonsense to me based on some group you’ve decided I belong to, you can write yourself a happy ending in which I finally come around and prove you brilliant.

    Like fan fiction, except that you’re not my fan.

  13. Just admit it, B. The post defending Palin was just a smallpox blanket intended to lure innocent conservatives into a false sense of warmth and security here.

  14. BTW, I didn’t know that Alan Dershowitz was The Head Jew Who Tells The Rest Of Us What We Think And Represents Us To The Gentiles. Thanks for clarifying that for me, Brian.

  15. > a smallpox blanket intended to lure innocent conservatives into a false sense of warmth and security here.

    Ooh! Aunt B.’s giving out smallpox Snuggies(tm)! :-)

  16. Pingback: SayUncle » Language Police

  17. Oh, lord, it amuses me that the more conservative complaint about this thread has become that people are aware of the history of things and that we remember what things mean.

    How did that become the progressive position?

    Anyway, let me be clear–you can use whatever phrases you like. I don’t care. But don’t think I’m going to pretend like I don’t know what those phrases mean, just for the sake of civility.

  18. My Smallpox Snuggie must have moth holes in it because I seem to be lacking my false sense of warmth and security.

    My assumption, when I saw her clip, was that Palin had only anecdotally heard the phrase and knew no more of it than that it held powerful historical reference of something to do with falsely placing blame…. And he pea brain thought “cool!”

    This is the same idiot, after all, who’s been “keeping an eye on the Russians” out her kitchen window whilst washing her dirty dishes, after all.


  19. I’m not a regular reader of this blog, I just followed a link to get here. And I’m appalled by what I’m seeing here.

    “Otherwise, the only people who I know who regularly use this phrase are historians and anti-Semites. If you aren’t a historian and aren’t Jewish, that’s where you encounter it.”

    So since you obviously don’t think Palin is a historian, I guess you’re now calling her an anti-Semite. In addition, of course, to the rest of the left blogosphere and the mainstream media libeling her as an accomplice to murder.

    Palin didn’t interject herself into the national discourse on the Giffords shooting; you liberals did that in what she and Glenn Reynolds have accurately described as a “blood libel.” Because you folks are libeling Palin with the blood of the innocent for the sake of a BS talking point.

    And now you’re reduced to picking apart Palin’s comments and grammar when she finally defended herself against these false accusations. Much like Jared Laughner, the actual shooter in this case, was fond of doing. Sounds like his madness is catching, at least on the left side of the aisle…

    Finally, I’ll just say that all you liberals who are dumping on Palin had better hope somebody doesn’t try to kill her or one of her kids as “payback” for her imaginary crimes. Because, with your response to the Giffords shooting, you’ve just established a precedent. Which, in the event, will be visited right back upon you tenfold.

    Reaping what you sow, and all that.

  20. But Wes, I thought that only the violent person is responsible for his/her own violence. I mean, that’s what that speech of Palin’s was all about. She herself has assured us that spewing nasty stuff about our opponents doesn’t have any effect. Otherwise we would have to walk all that “reaping what you sow” stuff back a whoooooole bunch of steps, and years.

  21. It seems to me that asserting Sarah Palin has blood on her hands is just that: libel. Blood libel, even. I simply don’t understand those who insist she’s the anti-Christ (or anti-Moses, or anti-Mohammed). Nor do I understand people that continually fuss about Jews. They’re all people, and I don’t understand the hatred; but the hatred seems equally bright, vicious, and misguided for both Palin AND the Jews.

  22. Wes, I’m happy to set the precedent that it’s wrong to call for violence against one’s political enemies. Tell me who all these liberals are you say are calling for Sarah Palin or her offspring to be murdered and I’ll gladly join you in condemning their words (and I won’t even wait for something to happen before I do).

    What you don’t seem to be understanding is that disagreement doesn’t have to include calls for violence. It’s fine to say Sarah Palin (or President Obama or whoever) is wrong. It crosses the line when you start calling for them to be hurt or killed.

  23. Ellen, it’s a question of usage. It wouldn’t be particularly appropriate for Palin to say that she’s the victim of a lynch mob, either, or that she was being forced to walk the Trail of Tears. She hasn’t been chased down, mutilated, hanged, and burned, as an individual; she also isn’t a member of a group that has historically been targeted for this behavior. She hasn’t had her home taken from her and she isn’t being forced to walk hundreds of miles with no food or assistance and only the belongings she can carry with her; she isn’t part of a group to which this history pertains. She isn’t being accused of being part of an ethnic/religious group that tortures children and uses their blood for food, or for unspecified unspeakable rituals, and she isn’t having her entire community killed as retaliation because it happens to be someone else’s holy day; she isn’t part of the group that has this history. At best, it’s appropriating the history of others and stripping it of its meaning, which tends to annoy those others. At worst, though, it is making a comparison that’s so over the top as to be downright offensive because it’s claiming that the absolute horrors that have historically been visited on other people are no worse than having other people yelling about you in public. Really, if you can equate the level of viciousness being aimed at Palin here with the level of hatred involved in accusations of blood libel against Jews, you need to do some reading up on pogroms.

  24. My aren’t we a country riven with factions at the moment? Palin brings this upon herself by cashing in on the fears and ill feelings of righties, but there is also no proven link at this moment between her rhetoric and this nutjob murderer. Seems to me that he did it as much because she showed him up at a public meeting as anything else.

    Having said that, perhaps Palin, and her ilk, should consider toning down their speech a bit. Wouldn’t hurt if Oberman dropped the “Worst Person of the Day” award either. We could easily see someone on that list murdered at some point.

  25. Wouldn’t hurt if Oberman dropped the “Worst Person of the Day” award either.

    I’m not saying “Worst Person of the Day” is civil discourse, but it’s leaps and bounds from the violent discourse that I think most people are decrying right now. It’s the stuff like (obviously) Sarah Palin’s infamous “RELOAD” comment and accompanying graphic and Jesse Kelly’s event “Get on Target for Victory in November/ Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office/ Shoot a fully automatic M15 with Jesse Kelly” ad.

    I do tend to find that kind of rhetoric more on the right, but I also think Obama’s “if they bring a knife to the fight, we’ll bring a gun” metaphor to be a bit irresponsible and Randi Rhodes’ ad with the shotgun sound effect in response to GW Bush’s Social Security policies to be completely over the line.

  26. Someone get Casey a fainting couch. Loosen up on those pearls, my pretty, or you’ll give yourself hand cramps. Someone on Olbermann’s list getting murdered? I hope that was clumsy hyperbole.

    Dolphin, please consider this treatise on ‘violent rhetoric.’ The reason Obama’s and Rhodes’ rhetoric isn’t necessarily in the same league with the likes of the GOP/Teabagger business is the respective audiences. Not only does the volume of violently inclined right wing rhetoric geometrically outnumber that from the ostensible left, the intent is different given the expected audience.

    A good example of the difference in those audiences can be seen in the most virulent rhetoric attacking Bush and Obama. At the extreme end of the left (such as it is), Bush was equated with or at least compared to Hitler. Now that’s an extreme analogy, but at least one could point to the wars of aggression and the violations of civil liberties and say that they are on the right track with a hyperbolic train. At anti-Bush rallies you’d see a variety of wacky things, but how prevalent were armed people holding signs trumpeting ‘2nd Amendment solutions’ or ‘watering the tree of liberty’?
    On the right wing side, I’d respect the teabaggers if their protests mirrored those from the ostensible left. One could make the case that Obama is a constitution-shredding warmonger not that different policy-wise from Bush. But what you did see in opposition to Obama, in addition to the eliminationist rhetoric, was completely fantastical and nonsensical grievances (‘he was born in Kenya’; he’s a socialist and a fascist; ‘death panels’; ‘get your government hands off my Social Security’, etc.). So you have on the right a crowd that prides itself on its distance from reality, that fuels itself on bigotry and paranoia, and that openly fetishizes firearms. Tell me which side represents more fertile ground for political violence.

  27. Sam,

    What I love about silly blog insults is that they need not connect with reality on an level. My comments were in no way hysterical, though I did buy my wife some pearls for Christmas and I love falling asleep on the coach in front of the TV.

  28. You think the people would have enough of silly blog insults.

    I look around me and I see it isn’t so.

  29. THere’s a report on NPR today discussing a survey done at the request of the Secret Service on assassins and their motives. It’s almost never political. The assassination is to get attention and notariety. The victim is picked simply to increase the amount of attention that reflects on the killer. If that also brings along some impressions that the killer is part of a group of one kind or another, that’s just icing on the cake and it makes the killer seem less invisible and apart from society.

  30. Palin uses three things, religion, fear and grandious imagery. She gets paid very well by doing it too.

  31. I’ll tell you what, when it comes to suffering, Sarah Palin’s right up there with Elizabeth Taylor.

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