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. DAW, NC

    I wonder who she has writing her blogs??? this is from the person who talked about "death courts/councils. seems the concern over what one says/implies only goes one way

    January 12, 2011 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  2. Patricia Balke

    Run Sarah run. How could violence happen here at home after you and some of your cohorts thought symbols of violence made a great campaign tool? No you personally did not commit the atrocity and had no connection to the Arizona shooter, but what exactly have you done to stop the "load and shoot" imagery? You can lie to your cadre of admirers, but are you so far into delusion that you can lie to yourself when you put your head on your pillow each night? Have you no conscience?

    January 12, 2011 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  3. amlcpamaine

    Either she just doesn't get it or is just an outright liar. There is DEFINITELY a change in political discourse, with herself and her cohorts in the center, and it's not just about guns. They rile up the few who feed on anger and fear and they denegrate compromise. Our past leaders were just that – leaders – who managed to compromise for the overall good of the country. These people DIVIDE with the sole purpose of getting their own way. Sarah is the compleat example of the girl used to getting her own way, and if you don't agree with her you're the enemy. Unfortunately many of us are proud, loyal Americans but are criticized and demonized by Sarah and her crowd. Yes, she's to blame.

    January 12, 2011 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  4. ex-gop

    Wonder who wrote that speech for the Queen of the Crosshairs?

    January 12, 2011 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  5. George

    What everyone else has said in the aftermath of the shooting is irresponsible, but not what she said before the shooting. What else did you expect from her? Little miss can't be wrong.

    January 12, 2011 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  6. marty

    GO AWAY and make millions of dollars ......that is what you do best MISS PALIN...and why did you take the map and names off your website if it was ok to do it? you just need to go away......ALASKA is a great place for ANNIE OAKLY

    January 12, 2011 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  7. Bobby T

    Maybe she can sleep now.

    January 12, 2011 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  8. martin

    She should be happy- after all, 19 for 20 is pretty good.

    January 12, 2011 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  9. Bob

    I'm not saying she's to blame. However, either her or her own people took down the famed crosshair map from her website immediately after the shooting. So she has no right to chastise anyone for at least thinking her rhetoric was a cause – she did it herself!

    January 12, 2011 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  10. anonymous

    Now that you've dissolved yourself and others on the right of any blame in this (Giffords opponent Jesse Kelly-"get on target and come shoot a loaded M15") I hope you continue to sleep well. God knows your heart and your intentions.

    January 12, 2011 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  11. JWN

    If the shoe fits........and it does fit you Ms. Palin, then you must wear it. Words can inspire, they can also insite.
    You cannot walk away from the cross hairs or the reload comment, they are yours.

    January 12, 2011 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  12. Ray from Bisbee, AZ

    Wow, Sarah, remarkably well worded. Who wrote it for you?

    January 12, 2011 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  13. shane

    Fort Hood, anyone? Christmas Day guy, anyone? No, Sarah! You have not placed any blame on the POTUS for either of these events minutes after they occurred! You're always the victim, right?

    January 12, 2011 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  14. Clint

    Poor Sarah & Beck, they are always the "victims".

    January 12, 2011 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  15. u2canfail

    I don't believe Palin is personally to blame. The shooter was CRAZY.
    But I do wonder why on earth she blames others for things, they are not personally responsible for, and then claims to be mistreated here? To me, her point is lost, by her own actions.

    January 12, 2011 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  16. Ken

    We all know half gov palin did not write this on her own. She is now trying to say she did not do or say any of the things she did. Stay in alaska! No one cares what you think or say anymore. You have no credibility left. Most americans have seen you for what you really are. Go away and stay away.

    January 12, 2011 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  17. Disgusted

    As usual. An opportunist, strategist and a FAKE. It's obvious Palin didn't write this herself. I'll concede she's smart enough to hire a talented writer to provide a message for her. But no more. It took Pailn four days to release a statement that includes words of compassion, because she had to wait for someone to put them together for her. She can't be that slow on the world stage. It would be reckless and dangerous for America to have a leader who can't think and analyze in real time. Palin will never be ready for prime time governance.

    January 12, 2011 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  18. John Smith

    Dear America, Please, please, please for the love of God and for the sake of the entire world, please do not elect this fundamentalist as the leader of the free world.

    January 12, 2011 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  19. Larry

    Poor, poor Sarah. She can't understand that people are not blaming her, even though while she prayed for guidance, she wasn't advised on how to figure this out. What people ARE saying is that all of her references to guns, targets, and other statements meant to appeal to "true Americans" has to stop and stop now. Anyone trying to con someone has to prey upon the mark's basic instincts – what he or she knows best. There is no substance behind her, so she has to play upon people's fears. This time, however, it didn't work.

    January 12, 2011 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  20. NSHSDad

    Here's some advice: you may have gotten some political traction out of the gun-toting image you painted in the past, but good taste suggests that you tone it down in the future. This isn't a statement about blame or 2nd amendment rights, just human decency.

    January 12, 2011 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  21. Cindy

    I wonder what she paid the speechwriter?

    January 12, 2011 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  22. Annie

    The best defense is a good offense, right Sarah?

    January 12, 2011 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  23. Eric in Manhattan

    She obviously did not write this herself.

    January 12, 2011 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  24. C L Treybig

    I'm not sure who wrote this for her, I am sure she didn't, but she should use this person for everything that comes out of her mouth.

    January 12, 2011 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  25. Eric

    Now when people like Palin (mis)quote President Jefferson (tree of liberty...), I'll ask them if the amount of blood shed by patriots in Tucson wasn't enough.

    George Washing has been the only sitting U.S. President to command an army in the field, and that was to put down an anti-government, anti-tax movement (Whiskey rebellion). People like Palin feed such movements, as they would seem to be paid well for it. Just because people like her are always around it doesn't make what they do right.

    January 12, 2011 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
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