Whose responsibility is it?
On Saturday, Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ08) was shot by one Jared Lee Lougher as she was meeting her constituents at a local Safeway. The intent was murder; six other victims died, she was critically wounded with a shot to the head. Less than an hour after the initial report and long before it was cleared that Ms. Giffords was in fact, critically wounded but not dead, Liberals chatter started blaming Palin for her map featuring crosshairs. Giffords’s district was one of those targetted.
The coincidence was unfortunate, but it was all that it was. Coincidence. And yet the meme was that this was somehow Mrs. Palin’s fault. The firestorm on Twitter and blogs has reached to insane levels; with each side trotting out evidence that they are somehow parties to “violent rhetoric,” that the Democrats had bullseyes on maps as well, etc etc.
The attack on Giffords was Jared Lee Loughner’s responsibility alone. He got the gun; he shot those people. Even today, as reports indicate that Loughner consumed no political mass media, the meme is being pushed that it’s somehow this “climate of hateful rhetoric” that led to this.
Damn the facts, Pima Country Sherrif Dupnik and the rest of the il-Liberal un-intelligentsia would want you to shut up and talk according to their rules.
Toxic? I’ll show you toxic.
Or rather; Jimmie Bise will show you toxic. If you listen to the latest edition of his podcast—The Delivery #73 (It’s not yet up but soon it will)—he quotes from Thomas Jefferson’s campaign against John Adams. He also explains that if rhetoric caused murder, pro football players will need security on the level of the Secret Service. Give the podcast episode a listen when it goes up; most of the political stuff is in the first half.
This matter of “blood libel.”
I first encountered the term blood libel, not from Sarah Palin, but from Glenn Reynolds when he first described the attacks on her. I’m not Jewish; in fact my first encounter with a real-life Jew was when I moved to America in 2001. That the term is emotionally charged especially for the Jews is understandable, but it is not a phrase that is exclusive to them. It’s been a part—uncommon as it may be—of political discourse, and it’s been used by many other commentators across multiple disciplines to describe a false accusation of murder; that the person thus falsely accused commits murder for whatever nefarious purposes they wish. Jim Geraghty has the compendium.
I have no doubt that Mrs. Palin willingly and knowingly used the term. The usage is as manipulative as it is provocative. John Podhoretz has his thoughts on the usage; it’s well worth reading the Jewish perspective. As an outsider though, I surmise that her usage is an attempt to put her plight on the level of those of the Jews. I understand why it offends. A small part of me hates the fact that she went on the passive-aggressive offensive here, but she’s caught in a catch-22: her silence was used to damn her. Now her statement was being used to damn her. Had she not used “blood libel,” something else would’ve caught their attention. She would’ve been accused of claiming victimhood anyway.
She is… fatiguing. This is perhaps the most important between-the-lines point of Podhoretz’ post I linked above. I’m tired of having her foisted upon me, of people demanding I take responsibility for her words, of being accused of complicity in murder because they accuse her of the same. I knew of her long before August 29, 2008. I supported her through the election and even to this day. But I can no more be held responsible for her words and deeds as she should be for those of Jared Loughner.
Let’s be honest. A lot of people found opportunity in this event. From those who used it to attack Sarah Palin to the deceptive—if not politically, evil—folks of No Labels. There was one opportunity in all of this, and that was to ease things over and help people reach some kind of catharsis. Tonight, at the Tucson memorial, our President gave the speech of his career. He has shown an amazing capacity for dignified decorum.
I want to believe that there is room, despite ideological differences, to afford him the treatment that I would want others treat my political allies. I would rather treat Obama the way I’d want people to treat Palin, than to treat him the way people actually treat her. If that makes me a squish. Well then. That’s not my problem.