Palin says efforts to lay blame 'reprehensible' and a 'blood libel'
January 12th, 2011
08:08 AM ET
3 years ago

Palin says efforts to lay blame 'reprehensible' and a 'blood libel'

(CNN) – Sarah Palin spoke out on the Arizona shootings Wednesday, calling the events “tragic” and sharply chastising those who have suggested charged rhetoric from her and others on the right may have motivated the killings.

“Like many, I’ve spent the past few days reflecting on what happened and praying for guidance. After this shocking tragedy, I listened at first puzzled, then with concern, and now with sadness, to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event,” Palin said in a video posted on her Facebook page.

“Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election,” the former Alaska governor said.

Palin’s statements come in the wake of suggestions from some Democrats and media commentators that her political rhetoric over the last year may be linked in some way to the shooting Saturday that left Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition.

Some critics have cited a Facebook posting by Palin last march that placed a crosshair over several Democratic-controlled congressional districts, including that of Giffords. Palin also tweeted at the time: "Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: "Don't Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!"

But in her statement Wednesday, Palin said any effort to connect statements by her or others to the shootings amounts to "blood libel."

“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. That is reprehensible,” she said.

The term was initially used in the context of the Arizona shootings by conservative pundit Glenn Reynolds, who in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed Monday characterized efforts to link the attacks to rhetoric on the right as a “blood libel.”

But the phrase itself invokes controversial connotations, referring to a long-standing anti-Semitic myth that Jews murder children for religious rituals. In present times, the term has come to be understood by some as any false accusation of murder and has recently been invoked by supporters of Israel in defense of charges the government was responsible for killing Palestinian civilians.

A Palin adviser had no further comment on the message.

Palin also suggested the charged political atmosphere of late differs little from that which has long dominated American politics.

“When was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial,” she said. “But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways.”

– CNN's Peter Hamby contributed to this report

Full statement

Like millions of Americans I learned of the tragic events in Arizona on Saturday, and my heart broke for the innocent victims. No words can fill the hole left by the death of an innocent, but we do mourn for the victims’ families as we express our sympathy.

I agree with the sentiments shared yesterday at the beautiful Catholic mass held in honor of the victims. The mass will hopefully help begin a healing process for the families touched by this tragedy and for our country.

Our exceptional nation, so vibrant with ideas and the passionate exchange and debate of ideas, is a light to the rest of the world. Congresswoman Giffords and her constituents were exercising their right to exchange ideas that day, to celebrate our Republic’s core values and peacefully assemble to petition our government. It’s inexcusable and incomprehensible why a single evil man took the lives of peaceful citizens that day.

There is a bittersweet irony that the strength of the American spirit shines brightest in times of tragedy. We saw that in Arizona. We saw the tenacity of those clinging to life, the compassion of those who kept the victims alive, and the heroism of those who overpowered a deranged gunman.

Like many, I’ve spent the past few days reflecting on what happened and praying for guidance. After this shocking tragedy, I listened at first puzzled, then with concern, and now with sadness, to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event.

President Reagan said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election.

The last election was all about taking responsibility for our country’s future. President Obama and I may not agree on everything, but I know he would join me in affirming the health of our democratic process. Two years ago his party was victorious. Last November, the other party won. In both elections the will of the American people was heard, and the peaceful transition of power proved yet again the enduring strength of our Republic.

Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions. And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, 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. That is reprehensible.

There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure.

As I said while campaigning for others last March in Arizona during a very heated primary race, “We know violence isn’t the answer. When we ‘take up our arms’, we’re talking about our vote.” Yes, our debates are full of passion, but we settle our political differences respectfully at the ballot box – as we did just two months ago, and as our Republic enables us to do again in the next election, and the next. That’s who we are as Americans and how we were meant to be. Public discourse and debate isn’t a sign of crisis, but of our enduring strength. It is part of why America is exceptional.

No one should be deterred from speaking up and speaking out in peaceful dissent, and we certainly must not be deterred by those who embrace evil and call it good. And 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.

Just days before she was shot, Congresswoman Giffords read the First Amendment on the floor of the House. It was a beautiful moment and more than simply “symbolic,” as some claim, to have the Constitution read by our Congress. I am confident she knew that reading our sacred charter of liberty was more than just “symbolic.” But less than a week after Congresswoman Giffords reaffirmed our protected freedoms, another member of Congress announced that he would propose a law that would criminalize speech he found offensive.

It is in the hour when our values are challenged that we must remain resolved to protect those values. Recall how the events of 9-11 challenged our values and we had to fight the tendency to trade our freedoms for perceived security. And so it is today.

Let us honor those precious lives cut short in Tucson by praying for them and their families and by cherishing their memories. Let us pray for the full recovery of the wounded. And let us pray for our country. In times like this we need God’s guidance and the peace He provides. We need strength to not let the random acts of a criminal turn us against ourselves, or weaken our solid foundation, or provide a pretext to stifle debate.

America must be stronger than the evil we saw displayed last week. We are better than the mindless finger-pointing we endured in the wake of the tragedy. We will come out of this stronger and more united in our desire to peacefully engage in the great debates of our time, to respectfully embrace our differences in a positive manner, and to unite in the knowledge that, though our ideas may be different, we must all strive for a better future for our country. May God bless America.


Filed under: Sarah Palin
soundoff (315 Responses)
  1. Average American

    This person has absolutely NO SHAME! We should never pay attention to her and her heated rhetoric (cross hairs, death panels, palling around with terrorists, etc...) again. She can't even admit that having a target over the district of a congresswoman who was shot is even a weeee bit over the top! Others have said they will tone down their rhetoric (Keith Oberman and Glenn Beck among them), but this evil, self-absorbed person can't bring herself to do that. She makes me sick!!!!!

    January 12, 2011 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  2. informed voter

    My wish for the health and well being of the entire plant is that Mrs. Palin remains silent from now on!

    January 12, 2011 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  3. James

    I love the headline: "Palin breaks silence". Palin never shuts up. How about this one, "Palin has nothing to say." Oh wait, that's not a headline. We all know that.

    January 12, 2011 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  4. Steve

    So let me get this straight, it is ok for me to say things that might inflame and may cause extreme acts of violence as in using the crosshairs of a weapon and calling for people to reload, a clear metaphor for a gun, but it is not ok for people to say that it is not ok for me to say that? Furthermore the reason it is not ok for people to link this act of violence with my rhetoric is because I am on a crusade to join the people of this great nation together and move to a more prosperous time.

    I apologize for the lack of continual logic; it is my feeble attempt at summarizing incongruent ideas.

    January 12, 2011 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  5. Cliff

    I read Sarah,s statment with interest, For the most part I do not think she bears any direct responsibility; however, I do disagree with her comments that the retheric is normal/acceptable. Nor do I gree that she pays no role in sturring anger and discontent in the manner she doe,s business.Until she and other more vocal politicans are willing to accept their role in the discord that is previlent in todays political process then unnecessary negatige results are to be heard by those they address.Sarah, and other media radicals who think their negative words do not have a negative affect are simply wrong.I think they do no service to themselves nor to the political process they choose to represent. This goes out to all who choose political discorse in the media
    Additionally,Todays political arena is far different from the past process, The media today is saturating the public with every minute detail and analysis of events

    January 12, 2011 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  6. Ken in MO

    Of course we really can't blame her for a sick individual but her general attitude is reprehensible. She is extremely ignorant and very irresponsible in almost all areas.

    January 12, 2011 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  7. slenon

    obviously ghost-written. Far beyond her English grammar skills level.

    As much as she would like to be absolved. she shares the blame along with all other politicians and even those of us who merely read and comment. She did not pull the trigger. But she and her ilk have helped aim the gun and primed the pan. She can't lie her way out of this one nor can her fellow demagogues bail her out.

    January 12, 2011 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  8. gary davis

    your noise doesn't change anything. you do however need to tone it down , better yet go away . you have made plenty of money off the backs of stupid people with your mouth . time for you to leave

    January 12, 2011 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  9. Brian

    Sarah, regardless of what your speechwriters say in this case, you are being charged with at least partial blame because of your constant statements preaching your will. Your followers were inspired by your actions and have protested weddings, funerals, and now this. If you think this is the only time this will happen, you are in for a wake up call.

    January 12, 2011 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  10. CarmenSo

    One of your cross-hairs targets was shot maybe the others should invest in bullet proof vests. Which also brings me to another point. Most of the terrorist attacks on this country haven't been committed by fundamental Muslims. They have been committed by right wing fundamental Christian nut jobs. What do you say about that reality TV Palin and Faux News?

    January 12, 2011 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  11. mdn

    You and your other mama grizzly whores were the ones talking about "regroup and reload" and "second ammendment solutions" if the elections didn't turn the way you wanted them to. Your the one who put the bulls eye on congresswomen Giffords district on the map which was only recently rempoved from your web site(SaraPac). You and your gang were hoping for some deranged person to act on your words and now you got it! You should "man up" use your "cojones" and take a little responsibilty.

    January 12, 2011 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  12. kkong

    Palin's not capable of speeches like this one. I wonder who wrote it for her?

    January 12, 2011 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  13. Richard

    Palin may not be the total cause behind this tragity but her presence since picked by McCain to out fox the Dems and Hilary has been the one most responsible for al the political discord. She is a cancer in our politics and willl continue to fuel the fires of unstable people. It is only a matter of time till a side of the road Tea Party meets with disaster by a sick liberal mowing them down like ten pins

    January 12, 2011 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  14. chris

    I really don't get why folks like Palin can't see words have power. I am not saying that this guy acted on something he heard from her or anyone else; however she and others (everyone for that matter) need to choose their words more carefully in the future. You never know how a person will interpret the meaning of the words you select!!! I mean when you she says ‘take up our arms’, where was her clarification to say she was talking about votes at the time she made the statement? I mean really Palin is the one who goes around talking Mama Grizzly, and how she shoot elks and those who listen to her are likely to be gun packing individuals too!! Now, again I am not saying this guy heard her or anyone else, however there may be others who are out there and who hear this type of talk and they take it literally, so she and others need to select their words carefully or take responsibility for the consequences they may cause!!!

    January 12, 2011 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  15. Billy, NYC

    Truth: Palin did not pull the trigger of the gun. However, her rhetoric spoken in public events and the map her posted online targeting congressmen and congresswomen districts provided easy targets for people who are mentally unstable and dangerous to others. Although she has her First Amendment Rights to say anything to the public or post any rhetoric or lies on her website, that does not mean it is ok to do it. We are adult; NOT children. Very POOR judgement. Or the $$ she made also paid for her judgement or even her soul. I wonder how she teaches her own children about right and wrong things to do.

    January 12, 2011 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
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