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. Damien

    Palin's political future is toast. Period.

    January 12, 2011 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  2. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Roger Ailes asked his spewers of hate at Fox to "Tone it down." But, it looks like the big three did not get the message.

    January 12, 2011 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  3. KMAN821

    Yes Sarah ... you would make a fine leader of the free world with your inate ability to bring people together and your grizzzly wisdom.

    January 12, 2011 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  4. Chris

    Why does this woman keep getting lead press? While she does spew hate and ignorance, we can't blame her. This shooting had nothing to do with her. It had to do with easy guns and our feeling that we can say and do anything we want no matter the consequences. The American public needs to look at itself. We hunger for stupid and a 24/7 news cycle is our fast food joint. Filling us with cheap crap all of the time and eating away at our health. We need to turn off CNN, Fox, MSNBC and others. Get back to catching our news in the half hour segments at 6/6:30 and again at 11. Only then can we get away from boneheads like Palin and Beck who won't have anyone other than their Facebook followers to spew their hatred.

    January 12, 2011 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  5. Ex-Republican

    Silly Sarah just doesn't get it. This Congressman (Giffords) addressed Sarah Palin's map prior to this incident. Giffords, like most of us, knew how irresponsible the words and actions of Sarah Palin were. Silly Sarah pretends to have no clue as to how reckless, a public officials' words can be. When her (and others), make it seem as if the federal government is under seige, then people who have a loose afiliation with reality may be pushed into what they think are patriotic actions.

    We the people also bear some responsibility here, because we allowed Silly Sarah to exist in our daily lives because of our incessant belief that she deserved to be heard. Well, certainly, our chickens have come home to roost.

    January 12, 2011 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  6. Frozone

    Leave it to Sarah Palin to make herself the victim in all of this. Palin's behavior is reprehensible.

    January 12, 2011 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  7. thomas jefferson

    Why does she hide behind Facebook and Twitter? She's like some terrorist sending out videos. She can't go on television to speak her position. She obviously didn't write the words, and it does seem like she's practicing her speaking abilities. But the real truth is, it's not blame for Arizona. It's for being silly and insensitive, not understanding what is responsible rhetoric or not–no intelligent, sophisticated and civilized person would ever use the crosshair imagery over real people's names, or use the phrase "don't retreat, reload"...she's dangerous, because she's naive–a bubble head with power. Go on Parker Spitzer Sarah and answer hardball questions that will show your intellect, not your the persona your group created.

    January 12, 2011 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  8. Reggie from LA

    OK, OK so you didn't pull the trigger. Are you insinuating that your kind of rhetoric (nasty and hateful) has no effect on people who hang on to your words...and you say a lot of them. Everyone is saying that you should be let off the hook because "whose to say your bullseyes, and rabblerousing (yes you do) caused the shooting?" My question is "how do you know that for sure"? Palin-like muckraking is only consistent with those other talking fools...I mean talking heads, fool. You sure are raking in the bucks, though.

    January 12, 2011 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  9. Mary

    Bottom line: Human being should not be gun targets on anyone's map.

    January 12, 2011 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  10. Denise

    Again, her ghost writers have been busy. In her note she passively admonishes every American citizen that doesn't agree with her narrow vision and once again, this writing is full of right-wing leanings so clearly, she didn't pray enough. I have not heard anyone blame her or the conservative talking heads directly. Clearly, the rhetoric is out of control and has been for some time – this has been noted worldwide. In most employment arenas, you cannot post or use violent symbols or use threatening speech while displaying intimidating postures as you would be escorted to your vehicle by security personnel and simultaneously fired from your job. Children are not allowed to display these kinds of behavior in school as it's labeled bullying. Status quo. She is business as usual. She has learned nothing.

    January 12, 2011 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  11. Franny60

    If anyone know what reprehensible means? It's Sarah Palin! I find her so phoney!

    January 12, 2011 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  12. J. Eby

    When President Obama called for a moment of silence on Monday in honor of the Tucson shooting victims, I was kinda hopin' Sarah Palin would stay silent for a week, maybe a month.

    January 12, 2011 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  13. a6102658

    Why are you so quiet Mama Grizzly?
    Hitting too close to home?

    January 12, 2011 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  14. Wi-Fi

    Charlatans like Palin incite to violence and rake in good money for doing it, but when someone out there carries out their suggestions they wash their hands. Despicable Palin, as always.

    January 12, 2011 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  15. frankw

    As usual, Sarah says, "Don't blame me, just because I put a target on someones face, doesn't mean I thought anyone would take me up on my lack of good judgement" Sarah, If you stop spewing hate, NOBODY will be able to blame you for a thing.

    January 12, 2011 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  16. Deborah

    She's had DAYS to have someone else write a comprehensible statement for her. Too little, too late. However, more alarming than Sarah's "It wasn't me, why am I always the victim" statement, are the people on her Facebook page that are eating it up and thinking she's the next Messiah. THEY are the ones who truly scare me!

    January 12, 2011 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  17. downinfront

    Condemn those that speak of '2nd Amendment Remedies" please.

    January 12, 2011 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  18. KYBSFL

    "What you do speaks so loudly I can't hear what you say." Ralph Waldo Emerson
    NO ONE has argued against PEACEFUL dissent and this twit Palin knows it. Honor the precious lives cut short? Yeah right. I know what this phony "Christian/Patriot" honors ... MONEYand POWER.

    January 12, 2011 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  19. breezy21

    Take responsibility for the hurtful things you profess. If it were your child saying something evil, wouldn't you correct them? It is you and it's time for you to stand up and say if I had anything to do with this, I am truly sorry. Remember, many lynchings occured because of the spoken word. Many believed Hitler and agreed that it was okay to burn millions of Jewish people. You know of the hatred that continues to exist in this country and by reflecting on it and inciting nut jobs who hang on your every word, you are indeed responsible for everything you say.

    January 12, 2011 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  20. drinky

    keep it up sarah...maybe someday someone will believe you. NOT

    January 12, 2011 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  21. LogicDictates

    She's like Lady Macbeth, scrubbing her hands and yelling 'out, damned spot!!'

    ....too late, it won't work.

    January 12, 2011 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  22. Faye Bowring

    Although I agree that our leaders on both sides of the aisle should cool their rhetoric, I strongly disagree that if everyone in public life from the politicians to the talk show hosts and media cleaned up their acts and became almost saintly that we would cease to have these nut cases with an agenda of their own. These are mentally deranged malcontents who are mad at the world and think everyone is stupid but them. They are rejects because they have a sick perception of the world in which we live and therefore, cannot deal with reality and try to recreate life and people to suit their world. He is another Timothy McVeigh, Unibomber, Hinkley, and all the rest before him and that we have yet to meet. So let us please put the blame where it belongs.....on the person who committed the crime and not everyone else.

    January 12, 2011 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  23. BJ Bell

    When I hear the statement, "Don't retreat - reload", I see a picture of violence - does anyone not?

    "Don't retreat - stand your ground - let your voice by heard", would be a more appropriate statement.

    January 12, 2011 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  24. hf74

    Whether it was her fault or not, she has been tainted by the media.

    The GOP will have a better chance in 2012 without her.

    Her own party is going to use this against her as much as anyone else.

    January 12, 2011 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  25. Ex-Republican

    ...So then now Sarah......Sit Down, Shut Up, and take your poison back to Alaska.

    January 12, 2011 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
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