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. Taiwo

    This woman is truly a fool....

    January 12, 2011 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  2. Anon

    How fast can Sister Sarah backpedal?

    January 12, 2011 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  3. LGNY

    The literary style here and wording suggests this was handed to her by a script writer. It is so different from her prior postings and speeches.

    I'd still like to hear what she personally feels, not just reading a press release.

    January 12, 2011 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  4. JustMe

    Feeling a little bit guilty, are we Sarah??

    January 12, 2011 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  5. Walter

    Sarah, please just go away and take Rush and the rest of Fox News with you. Stop playing on the less intelligent, the rest of us know!

    January 12, 2011 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  6. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Right wing talk is saying that democrats wanted this to happen. Doesn't that make you wonder what is in the mind of an imbecile right wingnut? Many of the slime from the extreme right have been praying for a terrorist attack like 9-11, so they can say, "We told you so."

    January 12, 2011 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  7. David Blake

    The hate she preaches (and it is pure hate) is reprehensible.
    The statements and opinions other people make toward her are expressed by the protection of their First Amendment rights that we all have, (the same amendment she hides behind). The link is there and the whole country knows it, heck the whole world knows it, and it will not just go away because she says it is “reprehensible”. Unfortunately, for one 9-year old, she will never get to use her First Amendment rights, or will a good judge will not be able to protect other's First Amendment rights.

    January 12, 2011 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  8. ST

    Does Sarah understands that those who attacked us on 9/11 were inspired by the words of Osama bin Laden. He didn't fly the plane himself. Those who listened to him acted and claimed 3,000 lives, so did the crazy Tucson boy. I can not see the difference among these different killers!

    January 12, 2011 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  9. Joshua Ludd

    No... the violent gun themed imagery and rhetoric of the right including Palin's use of crosshairs and her "don't retreat. reload" is what is reprehensible. Even on the off chance it had nothing at all to do with this incident it is still reprehensible and this event should still be a wake up call for the right on their violent rhetoric, and I say for the right because this sort of rhetoric and imagery in the mainstream is coming solely from the right. Thats not partisan... thats just factual.

    January 12, 2011 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  10. karen from Charlottesville

    Just like Palin to grab the spotlight. She should just keep her mouth shut and let these families grieve.

    January 12, 2011 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  11. spike in conshohocken pa

    Well, Sarah, if the criticism is so off-target (heh, sorry), then put your rifle scope graphic back up. Oops, I meant to say your "surveyor" graphic.

    January 12, 2011 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  12. Gary

    Wow... It took her so long to draft a response.

    January 12, 2011 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  13. The Watcher

    Dear self-righteous Sarah, this is not about you. However, if the "shoe fits" wear it. I could not help noticing you had removed your crosshair target image in response to the outcry. If you are so innocent, why remove it? Now you invoke partisan rhetoric to disentangle yourself from this tragedy. Whether you and your smart mouthed colleagues have some culpability remains to be seen. What the sheriff's and the general complaint is that this was an inevitable outcome from the rancor you folks spew. If your objectives were strickly political in nature, perhaps it would deserve less scrutiny. However, you and your ilk use grossly contentious phases to invoke ardor from the fringe supporters on the right. In doing so, you enhance your viewing audience levels and consequent advertising revenues. In retropsect that appeaars to be your true objectives. If only it were about issues, but dear Sarah, you can't put lipstick on a pig and call it pretty.

    January 12, 2011 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  14. Lixi

    I'm so happy that she came out with such a statement/message. She's absolutely right, this is not the time to lay blame but to support the victims and their families and hold Loughner responsible.

    January 12, 2011 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  15. grammy11

    Anyone that believes these words were written by her better look in the mirror. If she had something to say, why not do it in person and not falsely claim her ghostwriter's words as her own.

    January 12, 2011 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  16. kcl

    Did we expect anything else from Palin? Blaming others is her mantra, right Katie Curic? She didn't intend on her words and actions to directly cause such harm....but people we HAVE to restore some dignity to our debating, Palin are YOU listening? How are those crosshairs maps working for ya?

    January 12, 2011 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  17. demogal

    Where is, "If any statements or actions of mine, however inadvertently, contributed to the mindset of this troubled individual and his subsequent actions, for this I am truly sorry."? Self-serving and self-centered, Sarah!

    January 12, 2011 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  18. lynn

    Then clean up your act Ms. Sarah. The ugly words come out of your mouth and the ideas to fill the airwaves with hateful speeches come from Fox and your handlers.

    January 12, 2011 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  19. don

    Well, it IS a good thing that Palin removed the gunsight target icons from her website map. Her comments sound a bit as if the guilt feelings may be getting to her. She is certainly partially responsible for the current vitriolic state of our national public discourse...but then I guess we all are somewhat responsible. Bottom like, America, take a breath and lets not talk about each other with hatred.

    January 12, 2011 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  20. Name unsung

    You'er Done, you put up the cross hairs with Mrs. Giffords name on it, that's irresponsible

    January 12, 2011 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  21. andrewstl

    she is a bigger mess than ever

    January 12, 2011 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  22. degeneratevern

    Preying on the fears of the elderly with her death panel scam was pure evil. Michelle Bachman may be a real character, but Sarah Palin has no character.

    January 12, 2011 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  23. Ed

    She certainly brings up some good points. I doubt if any of these are her orginal thoughts. She seems more concerned with her name and reputation than having concern for the victims. But to be fair she's in a no win situation for those of us who don't like her. Myself included.

    January 12, 2011 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  24. Patrick Bailey

    Talk about the kettle calling the tea pot black. Sarah Palin, with her rifle crosshairs on Democratic districts; with her don't retreat just reload slogan, along with her pea-brain followers known as the tea party with all their neo-Nazi rhetoric are solely responsible for the spreading of hatred in this country. And this lady calls herself a Christian. These people are not Christians, they are evil to the core and they are destroying this country.

    January 12, 2011 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  25. GI Joe

    She didn't write that. He second-grade mentality cannot grow that fast. She speaks in hate, fear, lies, and self-pity. Anything else is written for her.

    She is NOT former Gov., she is FORMER QUITTER HALF-GOV and has no business trying to give anyone any advice. She needs to raise her kids and bake those cookies that will make them all chubby little idiots.

    January 12, 2011 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
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