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. CEDaly

    Horse puckey! That's like saying the Ayatollah does not know that he has inflamed people and incensed them to violence when he condemns America. There is a violent undertone to the rhetoric in our political theater. It is absolutely shocking and frankly, for the first time in my life, I actually think this country could literally split itself apart because of these extremes. Sarah Palin wants a pass to say whatever she wants and bear no responsibility for it. It would be like her saying, "If I was President I would nuke Iran" and then being perplexed when Iran exercises a preemptive strike. Words can move people to action and instill emotion in individuals to "defend" themselves and their country. If not, the constitution would just be another piece of paper with some words scrawled on it.

    January 12, 2011 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  2. Billy

    This is from a woman who during the 2008 campaign repeatedly claimed that Obama "palled around with terrorists" to which audience members shouted "traitor". Now, that's reprehensible. I don't think it's appropriate to lay blame for this horrific incident at the feet of Palin, but this "it's only words', first amendment crap is naive and deceptive dribble. If she evokes G-d/prayer one more time, I will throw up. The Hannitys(Mr. Swiftboat) and Palins of the world who profess to be devout Christians and then intentionally mislead and incite their mindless herds towards hatred is as big a hypocricy as there ever has been. Palin needs to just take her millions and fade into obscurity.

    January 12, 2011 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  3. kay anderson

    Poor Sarah...always the victim.

    January 12, 2011 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  4. Ric

    What is reprehensible Palin is putting cross hair on Ms Giffords and others as well as your hate speech. Period. End of story. GO AWAY.

    January 12, 2011 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  5. Darth Cheney

    Is there ANYONE out there who thinks those words were written by her?

    January 12, 2011 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  6. SpeakTruthorGoHome

    Sarah Palin, please shut up. There is no one group to blame for what this man did, but you better believe you ARE in deed a part of the reason things like this can happen. All that Tea Party hatred you've been spreading isn't working for ya lately, huh? Do the Republicants a favor – sit down and shut up.

    January 12, 2011 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  7. katy Heys

    Wow. A little bit "all about Sarah" rhetoric. Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

    January 12, 2011 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  8. Louis

    Sarah Palin should feel guilty. Her "Death Map" that was used in a variety of places is totally inappropriate as well as her signature phrase about reloading. Included on the Death Map was the name of the beloved Congresswoman as well. Combined with some of the other statements made by the radical right, a person with an unstable mind can and will process these comments and take action. This was so very demonstrated. Our prayers are for the people that were murdered and injured and for their grieving families as well.

    January 12, 2011 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  9. jeremiah

    I would just like to know who wrote it for her, she cannot spell, pronounce nor understand 90% of the words in that article. Please, give me a break. Listening to her speak, anyone with any knowledge of public speaking that has heard MRS. Palin speak, knows she is not capable of creating any thought as coherent as this. Please!! It is so manufactured and hypocritical.

    January 12, 2011 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  10. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    Only took two days for someone to write the speech for her, and for her to be able to read it with a straight face...

    January 12, 2011 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  11. Vp

    Sarah Palin is not fit to be any kind of leader. Why are we wasting our time to cover, listen and watch her nonsense?

    January 12, 2011 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  12. Jreddog1

    The problem with her full statement is that she successfully takes NO responsibility for creating a toxic environment. Sure, the shooter may not have said "Well, she put crosshairs on a map, therefore I must go and shoot Rep. Giffords" That is ludicrous and it is ludicrous to say that her rhetoric had nothing to do with what happened. By lashing out at the "media" and the Democrats – who rightly and fairly have suggested that the speech in Washington is poisonous, she has not once stated that her words may have consequences.

    January 12, 2011 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  13. Dixie

    How does that go. If the glove fits? You said shocking things that have come back home to roost.

    January 12, 2011 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  14. Johansson

    "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 law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights..." I wonder how quickly this rhetoric would change if the topic of Islamic states, the attacks on the WTC, and freedom to build mosques were the issues in question. I guess the benefit of doing one-sided "facebook/twitter politics" is that it doesn't allow anyone the opportunity to ask you to clarify your statements (or tie them to some of your other views!).

    January 12, 2011 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  15. Gerald

    Boy, talk about bad timing and bad taste....this is not about YOU today Sarah !!

    January 12, 2011 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  16. billy

    I can't begin to explain how much I dislike this woman and the people who continue to support her lunacy.

    January 12, 2011 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  17. nintex

    She no more wrote that than the man in the moon. Whoever writes her stuff took about three days to come up with that, but it certainly wasn't Sarah. I doubt if she could read it out loud! Having said that, let me add this: what a crock, coming from Sarah Palin.

    January 12, 2011 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  18. Amazed

    Sarah your poisonous gutter rhetoric has consequences and now all the world is to see.

    The same day of the shooting you were spouting that President Obama was working to weaken America. Working to weaken America.... yes a logical goal for our nations President....Let me see here, what can I do to weeaken this great land of ours?!? Better to go back to having 50 million citizens without any type of health care, no that wouldn't weaken that would strengthen according to the GOP....hmmm......

    Anyone with a little sense knows you are a self-serving idiot but the ignorant believe your nonsense and hence the problem.

    January 12, 2011 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  19. ultraman

    So we know this guy was an anti government, gun owning, conspiracy theorist. That sounds like your base to me Sarah.

    January 12, 2011 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  20. When Worlds Collide

    "It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions." Does anyone beleive that Palin understands that she is also accountable for her actions? Does anyone beleive that that Palin is capable of writing this statement at all.

    January 12, 2011 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  21. Dave

    Amazing that she takes no responsibility and feels no shame over putting crosshairs over a district that turns out to have a madman in their midst who takes her message seriously. Instead she blames the media for stiring it up. Without the media, Sarah, nobody would know who you are. Sarah Palin, you are not fit to govern, you are not fit to have a platform like you do to make the outlandish statements that you do. You should thank the founding fathers every day that you have the freedom to spew such stupidity.

    January 12, 2011 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  22. Mike Dodd

    The Sheriff should have been gathering facts after the shooting. But instead, Sheriff Dupnik took the opportunity to blame Arizona's lax, new gun laws and, the angry "rhetoric" of talk radio. Now everyone is trying to blame everyone, but a crazy young man who did this. To use this as an opportunity to enact the fairness doctrine, new gun laws, etc. is flat out wrong.

    January 12, 2011 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  23. AMV

    People blame the violence on TV and video games for violent actions by young adults and teens.. If this is true, why wouldn't it be conceivable that the ex-Governor's comments i.e. "Don't retreat, reload" and the need to man up, while not directly influencing, could also have indicated encouragement or acceptance of the type of violent behavior displayed in Tuscon on Sat. In fact, one of the reasons I chose not to vote for John McCain was the combative rhetoric of his running mate. Can't Sarah Palin have the grace to acknowledge that her comments should be toned down.

    January 12, 2011 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  24. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    That is an awfully long tweet. No wonder she has been silent for five days.

    January 12, 2011 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  25. Jreddog1

    In addition – she as much said "well, everybody else was talking trash, so why am I to blame?" as well as "You know, the cave people beat each other with clubs to settle differences, so it wasn't much better before me either".

    Come on – some Political person (of which she is not because she doesn't hold an office) Stand UP, say 'Enough is enough'.

    January 12, 2011 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
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