Her carefully constructed message, posted on Facebook this morning, is about “America’s enduring strength,” but it may always be known as the “blood libel” speech.
Her most controversial line: “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.”
As could be expected, her statement is generating passioned debate on all fronts. Howard Kurtz, who earlier wrote that it was “unfair” to connect her rhetoric to the shootings, writes that instead of delivering a message of unity she “chose to throw kerosene on the embers of a smoldering national controversy.”
As for the tone of political rhetoric, Palin defends the passion of debate. “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.”
But isn’t there a contradiction in arguing that the use of gun-imagery and slang is protected by the First Amendment but the media’s exploration of the hostile political environment in which the shootings occurred, even if irresponsible, is somehow “blood libel”?
This morning I was reminded of this speech, from Robert Kennedy, following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. It’s chronicled in the wonderful documentary “A Ripple of Hope,” and it’s inspirational and ironic in showing how a leader can, under the most trying of circumstances, find words that heal.
Update: Michael Scherer of Time says that in response to the “blood liberl” comment, “ideological tribes will retreat to their clubhouses.”
He writes, “Liberals attack the viciousness of some right-wing rhetoric, while conservatives attack the viciousness of the liberal charge of guilt-by-association. Everyone puts on more tribal war paint. The ensuing noise is so deafening that the nation is once again pushed to the brink of missing the point: That we stand remarkably united against this sort of violent insanity. That the vast majority of us don’t want the killings to be turned into yet another reason to draw the us-versus-them battle lines–even though Rush Limbaugh, Keith Olbermann, Glenn Beck and others, can’t help themselves, apparently for professional reasons.”