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. Mark

    I can't believe I am saying this ... but I AGREE WITH PALIN!

    January 12, 2011 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  2. Jack in Florida

    Hey Sarah.....I guess you should have thought of the consequences before you chose the words you used in your political rhetoric! You and your words are reprehensible (such a big word for you too). PLEASE, DO US ALL A FAVOR AND GO AWAY!!

    January 12, 2011 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  3. Zeake

    She's wasting her time! Her haters are going to spew their uneducated vomit her way no matter what she says.

    January 12, 2011 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  4. EddyL

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

    The boob just doesn't get it, does she.....

    January 12, 2011 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  5. AndyG

    The dead have yet to be buried and Governor Palin is invoking "blood libel". One would have hoped for a period of respectful silence and contemplation from her – or at least a call for calmer voices. Sadly it appears that she prefers to reload, not retreat.

    I genuinely feel pity for someone whose sense of victimhood is so great – but I also fear for our country.

    January 12, 2011 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  6. Dan

    She goes on about personal responsibility while trying to evade any responsibility for her own words and actions. Reasonable people are not buying your nonsense, Palin. You have blood on your hands.

    January 12, 2011 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  7. JayDeeT

    Pail is a Hypocrite: Every word in her two shabby books, her speeches, blogs, etc., are full of Finger-Pointing." That's about all she does in her public activities – finger point. She is the person who sent out the "reload" gun target campaign map with names of candidates listed under the graphic. What gives her the right to accuse others of "finger pointing"? Just another example of why she is a vapid, shallow, ignorant fool.

    January 12, 2011 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  8. Just_a_passerby

    "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"

    Hmmm . . . Death Panels, baby.

    January 12, 2011 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  9. Michael G

    No Sarah the only thing reprehensible was your behavior during the election , drawing crosshairs on an elected offical, You call yourself a leader , but your behavior has been a disgrace................

    January 12, 2011 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  10. joe blow

    wow, thanks sarah. i didn't know you were the victim here. it's all about sarah, all the time.

    January 12, 2011 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  11. RLS-Cleveland, OH

    Oh she just won't go away ever. CNN please resist the temptation to print her garbage, this country has had enough of her.

    January 12, 2011 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  12. Jay

    Shut up idiot. Please just shut up. I hope you've earned enough money off your stupid supporters that you can finally go away.

    January 12, 2011 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  13. militantdem

    The Tea Party, GOP and their supporters are "Reprehensible". Compare this with all the Republican and Tea Party rhetoric. It appears to make a difference where the comments are coming from; it's OK if it's coming from the right wing, but not OK if it's coming from anywhere else....

    January 12, 2011 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  14. acura2010

    What really sad about the republican party. During the Bush eight years, republicans allowed he & Cheney to drive this country into the mess it is in. Cheney now in a medial crisis and it's only by the grace of God he's still breathing. Republicans embraced the hatred groups including teaparty mob just be in power. They could easily "buck up" to Sarah Palin and her ugly rhetoric and denounce this behavior. No they embraced this ugly mob for their own ego.

    January 12, 2011 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  15. Patrick Lewis

    Olberman + 1 : Palin – 5000. Look, Sarah, how hard is it to just shut your hole?

    January 12, 2011 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  16. blf83

    Sorry, Sarah. Whether there is any link, direct or indirect, ever proven, your words are intemperate, incendiary, and irresponsible. You gun imagery has no place n civil discourse. This is not blood libel perpetrated by the media. It is your own cheap tricks. You will forever be linked to this tragedy; on that basis, your national political career is also over. What you sow, you shall reap.

    January 12, 2011 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  17. GrogInOhio

    Can we at least agree that people with a history of mental instability should be allowed LEGAL access to automatic weapons? if we can not agree to this minimum, we're merely waiting for the next mass murder tragedy.

    January 12, 2011 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  18. asm_ith

    Sarah Palin has no credibility complaining about anyone's irresponsible statements, when she was so irresponsible as she lied about death panels. To her, the only irresponsible statements are those made amyone who disagrees with her, and she can never be guilty of making any irresponsible statements.

    January 12, 2011 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  19. Pete

    So, if she's truly the "innocent victim" here, then why EXACTLY did she have the "crosshairs" campaign poster scrubbed from her websites literally half an hour after the shootings on Saturday? If there is nothing wrong with the poster, then why EXACTLY did they come up with a cover story 10 months later that the gun sight graphic was a "surveyor symbol".

    January 12, 2011 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  20. Jana Peterson

    Oh woe is the professional victim Sarah Palin.

    January 12, 2011 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  21. Peter E

    IS there any event in the world, celebration or tragedy, that Palin doesn't make out to be all about her? 'ME ME ME! Pay attention to ME!!!'
    If she just ignored the slanders against her and issued a two-sentence offer of condelence like EVERYbody else did, we'd have moved on. But no. She has to make sure we remember that the 6 dead people aren't the real victims, she is.
    Can't she just go back to Alaska and her 'real America' and stay away from the 99% of the rest of Americans who are not 'real' enough for her?

    January 12, 2011 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  22. Chedar

    This idiot Palin fall on the same category as Limbaugh and Beck. These group of people only promote hate to get paid. Sad, America has to come to this.

    January 12, 2011 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  23. joe blow

    let me be the first to challenge sarah to a duel - oh, that wouldn't be fair since her tlc mini-series demonstrated that she is a fraud who never shot a gun before. riddle me this, simple sarah, if your words don't impact anyone, why use them? just re-load.

    January 12, 2011 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  24. EddyL

    Who wrote this for Palin? She sure as hell didn't write or research this.

    Funny how she's never responsible for ANYTHING

    January 12, 2011 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  25. maine liberal

    Sound bites such as : death panels, pal around with terrorists, lock and reload, second amendment remedies, gun scopes are not part of Vigorous and spirited public debates.

    Peter KIng (R-NY) words have consequences

    January 12, 2011 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13