Palin says efforts to lay blame 'reprehensible' and a 'blood libel'
January 12th, 2011
08:08 AM ET
4 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. BlackPanthers2020

    She is exactly the problem , when you incite people , what do you think they will do ? Just like Palin taking no responsibility in this tragedy . She and other's on the right share part of the blame , remember during the 2008 elections when Palin was hold a speech , members of her audiance were yelling all kinds of racial slurs and she didi nothing to quell them .......and some of you wnat this woman to run our country, I have news for a lot of you .....her carreer in politics is over ! wink-wink that !

    January 12, 2011 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  2. David

    “Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own." Wrong again Sarah. People are influenced by their environment; what they see, hear, and feel. Your negativity and blatant lies may not have influenced this event, but you REALLY need to shut your mouth. Your vitriol is divisive and your desire for fame is border line psychotic in itself. Go back to AK, stay there, and keep your mouth shut.

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

    Of course she wants to send the blame elsewhere. She feels responsible and it is evident in that she has taken the crosshairs off of the website and this is her second statement about the shooting. This is also why Sarah Palin will never make it as a viable Presidential candidate. At some point, thinking you are cute by shooting caribou and talking about pigs and lipstick ends with the reality that as a public figure, what you say matters and you are responsible for your words, especially when you are spewing hate. Her 15 minutes have been extended for too long.

    January 12, 2011 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  4. Ivan Noel

    Sarah Palin was irresponsible for posting the suggested "cross-hairs" on her website. That behavior only fuels hate and terroristic activities from crazy people. Sarah Palin and many Left-wing supporters need to pick and chose their words before they say or do something irrational in front of the public. The shootings in Arizona is a direct result of Sarah Palin's mouth.

    January 12, 2011 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  5. bkgrandma

    Isn't it interesting that Sarah Palin and Sharron Angle both came out today to say that the hatred they both spew and their references to using guns to turn the country around had nothing to do with what happened in Arizona. Sounds similiar to what Rush said yesterday!! I guess when you have a guilty conscience you go on the defensive. Were they in part responsible, probably not, but their type of language also doesen't help prevent actions like this.
    They complain about what they call irresponsible statements by other people, but will not admit that what they have said in the past was just as bad, if not worse. They can dish it out but they can't take. Have either one of them ever heard of "The Golden Rule"?

    January 12, 2011 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  6. RT

    Even after the tragedy she is still the same hateful person blaming others. This shows why she should never be a president. I hope the news channels stop showing her news.

    January 12, 2011 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  7. John

    You're reprehensible. Just go away, forever. A society that needs to heal and tone down its anger doesn't need people like you. Just go away.

    January 12, 2011 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  8. befmed1

    "It’s inexcusable and incomprehensible why a single evil man took the lives of peaceful citizens that day." In excusable yes, incomprehensible no. Heated rhetoric does push unstable personalities over the edge. Saying it ain't so doesn't change that fact.

    Palin and tea partyers, you can take heart in one thing that was proved by this event. That is, at least a madman's second amendment right to bear arms was confirmed.

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

    The only thing "reprehensible" is Palin herself! Have you noticed that while Dems and Independents and SOME media outlets agree the rhetoric should be toned down while extreme Repubs like Palin, other tea people, Limbaugh keep on ignoring it and trying to play like they're "victims"? They were hateful since 2008 and shrugged off the violent debates during healthcare saying "oh well,that's people", and now refuse to admit to any wrongdoing or promising to be more civil. Notice Palin is just playing that "victim" persona AGAIN? Why does the media even give her the time of day?

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

    If she did nothing wrong, why was that part of the website with the crosshairs taken down?

    January 12, 2011 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  11. Michael1959

    There is enough blame for both parties. This tragic event was not one party against the other party. No matter if it is the Republican or Democratic party that tries to blame the other, it is just plan wrong. This tragic event was from one person, the shooter. Both parties including President Obama have used words of fear and violence to incite their followers.

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

    Of course this coming from the woman who talked about death panels for health care and abstinence only education

    January 12, 2011 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  13. Bassman

    That is what a Presidential address is supposed to look like.

    January 12, 2011 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  14. cup0pizza

    She NEVER shuts up, does she?

    January 12, 2011 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  15. eimaj914

    God I hate her. Complete moron.

    January 12, 2011 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  16. Jay Kay, Minneapolis

    Well, if anyone should be able to recognize an irresponsible statement, Sarah Palin should.

    January 12, 2011 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  17. You Betcha

    So Sarah, you think the media is libel in inciting the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn? Sorry, it is you (along with your buddies like Beck, Limbaugh, etc) who have been stirring the 'Hate Pot' for over 2 years now, all for political gain.

    Was your rhetoric PARTLY contributory to the violence? Absolutely!

    Soap and water cannot remove the blood stains your hands.

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

    Repersentative Giffords in her own words said "Words have consequences". At lease back off all the blame game and politics until she can go home. If Sara P, wants to be president, please act bigger than your video and don't flame the fire, with responding to these conversations. Just express your sorrow to Rep. Giffords and all the millions of americans who feel bad at this time.

    January 12, 2011 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  19. CCJ

    We did not point a finger and blame Sarah for irresponsible words but Congresswoman Gifford stated in March 2010 that there are consequences some of the negative words and behavior displayed by her. Maybe there is a lesson to be learned from this, Sarah.

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

    Just have the good judgement to stay quiet Sarah.

    January 12, 2011 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  21. charles bowen

    My question would be, which one is sicker Sarah and her lies and inflamitory retoric ,or the nut case who killed and wounded so many good people. He pulled the trigger but she aimed the gun. This women needs prozac and a muzzle. Just the facts Sarah Just the facts! charles bowen solomon stone

    January 12, 2011 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  22. frank salamon

    It is you, Ms. Palin, that is reprehensible.

    January 12, 2011 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  23. Juan

    Many foreign news agencies have responded to the rhetoric present in the political discourse in America. The comments and observations may allow Palin and Angle to take another tack on their contributions to these opinions. Their actions in America affect our ability to conduct business and establish relationships throughout the world. Palin nor Angle at present give comfort that they can represent America in an acceptable fashion.

    January 12, 2011 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  24. steven

    her statements only convice me that the woman is a sociopath...she refuses to see that her remarks are one of the causes of the heated rethoric and violence in america...she and many others in the headlines and on the radio do much to inflame folks...especially those on the fringes of sociaty....those on the fringes of break down like the fellow in az....it is obvious that the man had a political motive...he he had a quarly withthe womans politics which he vented in writing and and exhibited on the few approaches he made towards the woman...

    January 12, 2011 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  25. JPX

    Typical Palin. She makes inflammatory statements and then when she's called on it she turns it around and acts like she's the victim. She never accepts any culpability for her disgusting behavior. She's a reprehensible human being.

    January 12, 2011 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
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