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. George

    God, this woman has NO conscience.

    January 12, 2011 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  2. Only Pragmatic

    Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. You reap what you sow, honey. The only reason people people are blaming you is because you are partially responsible. Now, what's truly reprehensible is you failing to take reasponsibility for your behavior. Mr. Loughner will be judged for his poor behavior. You probably never will be. Keep in mind you're the one who said, "Don't retreat. Reload." Well, doll, words have consequences. You see, when you engage in hate speech with a violent edge, someone is bound to be adversely influenced. Sooner or later, you're going to have to face the fact that you're part of the problem here.

    January 12, 2011 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  3. Robin

    God bless you Sarah... keep up the good fight..

    January 12, 2011 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  4. mr.stogie

    Go pound ice, Sarah...You have absolutely NO credibillity!

    January 12, 2011 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  5. Forrest

    For crying out loud, lady, just apologize for your potentially volatile rhetoric, promise to tone it down, and walk away quietly like a responsible person, even if you don't mean it. Getting all indignant is the wrong response.

    January 12, 2011 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  6. TM

    Typically classless response from the QUITTER. Hey, Sarah, how about for once realize that it's NOT about you. You DID use "bullseye" images. You HAVE used violent images and rhetoric to score political points. You HAVE deliberately used the fear of DEATH and VIOLENCE at the basis of your political messages. The pathetic excuse of "everybody does it" is a load of crap. How about you TRY and take the high road and pledge to be more thoughtful in your words. If the problem is that everybody does it, why not set yourself apart by NOT doing it. Or is your message so pathetic and weak that it can't survive without fear? If your only defense is that "only a madman would take my message literally" then you have NO defense when a madman DOES take it literally. You DID put out that message. You DID help light a fuse. Do us all a favor, and DON'T light another one.

    January 12, 2011 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  7. Kevin

    Its amaizing to me that this woman thinks she can be president and yet people are dumb enough to think she can. She knows dam well the rhetoric from people like her, Bachman, hannity, beck, limbaugh and fox insighted the sick man to do what he did. It's also funny how the right came out really quick saying its from both sides, thats utter BS. I haven't heard any democratic congress person or senator spewing out hatred day after day after day. The GOP exploited this hate and fear, so much so that it got them the house of representatives, but now they can't tone it done, the genie is out of the bottle. I'm afraid this is only the beginning just wait til 2012. You'll see the level hate coming from the right that hasn't been seen since civil trights era. I hope America is ready for what is to come.

    January 12, 2011 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  8. gina

    Amazing how Palin and Angle refuse to understand that words have consequences and may result in unfortunate actions by others. If you are a public figure,people are are going hear what you say. The sad fact is that people may take your words to the extreme whether or not that was your true intentions. In others words think before you speak.

    January 12, 2011 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  9. Florida Joe

    You put a map up with crosshairs on her district, within hours of the shooting you take it down but NO CONNECTION right? You tell people to RELOAD but you didn't mean any harm right? For once could youj understand THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU....Rather than stand up and come out right away and say something publicly NO you are not capable you post it on Facebook...AND YOU think you should be President..Shame on you, shame on John McCain for bring you out from your hole in Alaska.........Do us a favor QUIT once again and go away........You are a joke

    January 12, 2011 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  10. Mark

    Palin never ceases to amaze me.. Rather then use this as an opportunity to tone it down and recognize that her approach is at the very least unsettling to many she reflects back to dueling in American politics as justification for her idiotic cross-hair visual..

    Well I'm all for reinstating dueling if the first match is Sarah Palin vs Michele Bachmann ... Either way the country wins!
    Although Palin is pretty good with a gun so she could wipe out all of congress and then we would be left with Sarah..

    Maybe that's not should a good idea :-)

    January 12, 2011 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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,”
    -------------------------------------------------–
    They did not have MANUFACTURE it Sarah. YOU wrote it and actually felt guilty enough to take it off your website. What does that action say about YOU? If all was well and within reasonable discourse and expression of your Freedom of Speech, why take it down? It was so akin to 'destruction of evidence' that it would've been funny if people hadn't just been killed.

    You are a sad, pathetic, and embarrassing walking paragon of the worst that this country has to offer. I am ashamed for you since you're too amoral to be ashamed for yourself.

    Absolutely NO ANGST over the part that YOUR hateful rhetoric could've played in this. And certainly no personal committment on YOUR part to TONE DOWN the hate.

    Unbelievable!

    January 12, 2011 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  12. PerritoNoz

    There goes her chance to take responsibility for her vitriolic rhetoric. Instead, she uses the opportunity to defends herself so she can continue making money with her violence-inciting speeches. Boy, weren't we lucky she never made it to be VP.

    January 12, 2011 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  13. I Love George

    oh sarah ... so well said with blood on your hands ...

    January 12, 2011 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  14. Walking Bear

    It's all about you Sarah...... it's all about you......

    If she doesn't feel guilty, why did she pull down the questionable material on her website and facebook?

    January 12, 2011 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  15. Jack

    People are wondering why Sara waited four days before replying. Simple: she just wanted to make sure that Jared Loughner did not make some initial statement saying that he was encouraged to do this by the current political rhetoric. Now that it appears that he is just a messed up individual, it is safe to claim the moral high ground and to say that such suggestions are "reprehensible"... You betcha.

    January 12, 2011 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  16. Donaldbain

    Instead of admonishing the "lamestream" media for putting 2 and 2 together. It would likely behoove Ms. Palin to examine her own rhetoric and that of her colleagues. Inspiring people to participate in the politcal system is good thing, inciting people to cause harm is not. All of her "death panel" talk goes hand in hand with her "Reload" campaign and "palling around with terrorists" nonsense she has been spouting for the past few years. I will also say the photo of her attached to this article looks more like she is biting the insides of her cheeks to stop from laughing than that of a serious politcal contender. But then she is probably thinking, if it can happen in Arizona, in can happen in Alaska so she is probably soiling herself.

    January 12, 2011 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  17. Jess

    Perhaps a speech just about the victims and the country would of been okay, but this proves that it's always all about her.

    January 12, 2011 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  18. Seattle Sue

    Palin, Never,never,never accept responsibility for anything,always invoke Reagan and God, blame the media( actually you forgot to call the media The Lame Stream Media) be sure to keep those guns in sight with the heavy duty clips. After you wipe the blood off your hands and go target someone else. Reload !

    January 12, 2011 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  19. Dea

    Keith Olbarmann did a 9 min commentary on the rhetoric from both sides, and apologized for his past remarks that could have been interpreted as advocating violence. Why can't Sarah do the same instead of going on the attack. Class and empathy, Sarah's never had it, never will. She makes Alaskans look bad. We don't all think or act like her, in fact very few of us do. We don't want her or her rhetoric.

    January 12, 2011 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  20. AEK

    Just a matter of time before SIster Sarah posted on her Facebook page denying ANY responsibility for the tragedy in Tucson. Of course with many news organizations clamoring for a statement, not surprised that you took the easy way out and refused to speak personally about it!. I do not think anyone in the "lamestream media" is attempting to place direct blame on you, even though to claim that, does enable you to look like a victim too. The issue, Mrs. Palin, is that when you travel all over the country inciting your right-wing base with inflammatory rhetoric and post maps with gun sights on your web site, you also have to be prepared to take the heat when one of those you targeted is attacked. Oh, and by the way, stop trying to claim they were not gun sights, that just makes you look more pathetic! You and Sharon Angle and Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh all bare responsibility to taking the low road in the political debate and now have to deal with the repercussions, so just do it, deal with it!

    January 12, 2011 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  21. JoeBG

    It's only irresponsible to point fingers now that those fingers are pointed at you? You, Sara, and your far-right buddies made finger pointing an art but now it's irresponsible? That is laughable.

    January 12, 2011 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  22. Don't buy it

    By Palin addressing these statements, she still is diverting the attention away from the victims and making this about her plight against the nation. Oh please. It hurts to be bitten by your own words doesn't it?

    January 12, 2011 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  23. FacebookPolitician

    I can only imagine how she would have reacted if a person on the left had done this to a right wing politician. I guess we'll never know as only right wing idiots do these types of things.

    January 12, 2011 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  24. betty

    Again she demonstrates that she is clueless.

    January 12, 2011 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  25. Mike S.

    She never misses an opportunity to put herself in the center of the spotlight. She'll make a few more bucks from this. Or else.

    January 12, 2011 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
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