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. JDQ

    I wonder who wrote this for her? She hasn't got the ability to do it.

    January 12, 2011 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  2. Russell

    Palin Lashes Out. Guess CNN doesn't want to turn down the tone. No one is fooled by the left's desire to tone things down. They just want to blame conservative for the murders. Oops it has failed. Check out the CBS poll you idiots. Go get'em Sarah

    January 12, 2011 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  3. Sarahs targets get people killed

    Funny that she's calling her critics irresponsible and segways right into denial. She throws a little religion into it as well. TYPICAL CHARLATAN!

    January 12, 2011 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  4. lauradet

    Palin and Fox News say that it's not their fault for promoting violence against the left. Well, if you all remember Nancy Pelosi's life was threatened not too long ago, by a 48-year old man over the healthcare bill. In an interview on a California ABC News affiliate, the mother of a man arrested for threatening House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blamed Fox News for exacerbating her son's mental illness, saying it encouraged his behavior.

    "Greg frequently gets in with a group of people that have really radical ideas and that are not consistent with myself or the rest of the family, which gets him into problems," the 83-year-old mother of the accused man, Eleanor Giusti, said. "I say Fox News, or all of those that are really radical, and he, that's where he comes from."

    January 12, 2011 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  5. david

    Palin is an idiot, plain and simple.

    January 12, 2011 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  6. Rob

    This idiot don't get it!!!!!! No she did not say go kill but when your hateful rhetoric and bad choice of words cover the airways you have some responibiltiy. How many time have gangster rap been the blame for the violence in the African American community. No one particular rapper did anything but when you create the environment. Plus she look a mess on this video looks like guilt.

    January 12, 2011 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  7. Cascadoux

    Stop this childish nonsense! All of us have a responsibility for making the American political climate, a hostile and unwelcoming place for Republicans and Democrats, and anyone in-between. Any effort to make it less so will have a positive impact on all of us. What's wrong with wanting a better, safer and civil country? Our country must come first, before politics and egos.

    January 12, 2011 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  8. Bill

    Amazing how there is a need to regulate television and movies because of the aggressive and potentially violent impact they have on people, yet politicians will claim their intense and violent innuendos do not do the same.

    January 12, 2011 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  9. mk

    She talking but I and I hope no one else is listening. She took politics, and it's dirty tricks, and placed it back in a childish world of grade school antics. SHE IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH POLITICS. Her hate speech might not mean anything to her but to me she shouts fire in every crowded room she goes into and then slinks away to cry that the "lame stream media" twists her words.

    January 12, 2011 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  10. Laughing in Florida

    Palin IS a media creation herself, so look in the mirror when you call something reprehensible. She is an irresponsible celebrity loudmouth who will never be a leader; she already abdicated that role.

    January 12, 2011 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  11. jokerster

    Maybe next time she will watch what she says....

    January 12, 2011 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  12. ABM

    THIS is not about you Sarah. Have some respect and guts to – in your words – Man up, Your message sickens me to the core. As a Republican I am ashamed of what the party has become and I will never vote or support representative who use hate or coded rhetoric that can be aligned with violence. Time to rise above your selfish spotlight seeking. It is your vile and poison speak for the last two years that has gone overboard,

    Figures you want to speak BEFORE the President has a chance to quell this nation. Shame on you.

    It is time for you and your family to fade away Sarah.

    January 12, 2011 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  13. GO HOME SARAH

    I was wondering how long it would take the mean girl to say something inappropriate and stupid. Your are slipping, Sarah.
    It took longer than I thought it would.

    January 12, 2011 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  14. Realistic

    Palin is trying to look presidential in the picture but she failed. She looks as confused as the first day i saw her on stage and we all know she did not write her statment. She and the rest of the republicans now are trying to distort the truth and that is, rhetoric from her and the political machine from the right has gone beyond acceptable. When remedies from want to be politicians are covered with "violent rhetoric" than violence may occur to those who are unstable to begin with. Leaders do not need ratchet up rhetoric to convince voters to vote for them, what they need to do is show leadership and the votes will be casted for them.

    January 12, 2011 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  15. trisher204

    I am astonished, and I don't believe one word of it. Death panels came out of this womens mouth and that is only one of the many nasty comments and name calling. I am 58 years old and have been voting since I was 18 years old and she is lying through her teeth that the nastiness has always been at the level it is now. This is CYA and that is all it is. Because she was and is a big part of it. I have worked around alot of women in my life but she is the shrewest and nastiest, yet whinny when she is called out on her comments. You can't have it both ways.

    January 12, 2011 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  16. rusty155

    Saran Palin you are right about the one that responsibility was the man doing the shooting. But people like you,Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck Is all you do is spread hate and racist are just as responsibility. Saran palin on a T.V shooting a machine gun and you all way say don't retreat ,Instead reload and put cross hair on people. No one running for Politics should be doing.You say back in the clam day Political figures settled their differences with dueling pistols,they shoot at each other not at people in front of a Safeway store. I don't know how you can compare the two.Saran palin you have no business running for any PUBLIC OFFICE of any kind ,and the other need too be take off the radio or T.V.

    January 12, 2011 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  17. nowar

    she and so many of the right, including the all star line up at fax news, have bashed anyone who thinks differently for so long that there has to be the possibility that their rhetoric is the igniter for violence against the left. for what she has spewed over the last year, all the while exposing her lack of intelligence, she should be ashamed of herself. i would love to see hannity, rush, coulter, palin and beck just go away and let the country begin to heal.

    January 12, 2011 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  18. barb

    If the shoe fits WEAR it!!!!!!!

    January 12, 2011 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  19. calvin Kimbo

    To my good friend Palin, sometimes we ought to becareful when we are at the podium. It's important to understand that there lots of knuckle heads out there, who instead of taking the message from the idiom-phase manner it has been projected, they'll take it literally; "don't retreat, but reload". To the learned, the message is straight clear but to the deranged, the message is interpreted as picking a weapon and start a war especially when many people know that you are a gun loving person!

    January 12, 2011 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  20. Yes or No

    Let me be the first to say, "Damn, it took a long time for someone to write that for her. I wonder if it was the same people who wrote that other reloading garbage for her. Why do the people who always say stop going to the past, you know about 6 years ago, but now they want to go way back when there was not gun-laws and say, at least we are not dueling anymore? Yes, I really due believe this lady will continue to spread her hate and get paid for it just like the rest. If they can spread the hate, why are we jumping on entertainment. Thanks, but no thanks.

    January 12, 2011 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  21. Jerry Stockman

    Sarah, 'me thinks you protest too much'. In all your statement, I don't seem to find anything about your campaign suddenly taking down your 'crosshair's' poster with Ms Giffords's state one of those identified. Thats what I find 'reprehensible'.

    January 12, 2011 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  22. Steve

    It is a fact that Sarah Palin has used and still uses bombastic language when speaking to the public. It is a fact that Sarah Palin had a map on her web-site with "crosshairs" centered over districts she wants/wanted targeted. It is a fact that Gabrielle Giffords called her out on this map in particular. It is a fact that at a public and polictical event, Gabrielle Giffords was shot by a gun in the head. According to Mrs. Palin this is just a coincidance? I think not. Crazies follow crazies – just look at FoxSpews and how those haters of all defend her now. Hell is in thier future!

    January 12, 2011 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  23. Bobby McKenzie

    Sarah is right. INstead of attempting to get cheap political points by blaming others, lets sock it to th monster that did this, and to quote you, Sarah, "RELOAD!!!!

    January 12, 2011 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  24. Ramjet

    Who wrote this statement for you Ms Palin? This is beyond your ability. Too little to late.

    January 12, 2011 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  25. Paul White

    Logical fallacy: Mrs. Palin, you've just admitted, in your own words, that intemperate commentary can incite hatred and violence, yet you do so in the midst of a statement that claims the opposite is true. You argue that the left's claims about angry rhetoric inflaming some people to the point of violence are simply wrong, but in the next breath you claim that the very act of making such statements "serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn". Um, so which is it? If the left's claims about the right will "incite..hatred and violence", then how can they be wrong when they argue that the right's claims about the left do precisely the same thing? Do you mean to argue that only rheotric from liberals incites violence, while rhetoric from conservatives doesn't? How, exactly does that work?

    January 12, 2011 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
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