Echoing the new battle cry of the right, Sarah Palin has come out of hiding to accuse those who suggest over-the-top rhetoric and a volatile political climate might offer some explanation of Saturday’s gun rampage in Arizona of manufacturing a “blood libel” against her.
Desperate to defend herself after being called out for placing the cross hairs of a rifle over the home district of a congresswoman, who was then the victim of an assassination attempt, the former governor of Alaska scrubbed her website of the offending imagery and then portrayed herself as the victim. To describe her predicament, Palin used a term for false and aggressively anti-Semitic claims that Jews murder children as part of religious rituals.
The wounded congresswoman, Arizona Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, is Jewish.
"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," cried Palin with a campaign-style video and posting on her Facebook page.
What is the proper range of debate according to Palin? Apparently, it is fine for her to claim those who suggest she may have stepped over the line of engaging in the crudest and most violent of smears. But, beyond that, everyone should simply accept that: "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…"
Palin is picking up on a line that has become the favored talking point on conservative talk radio in recent days.
Hyper-defensive conservative talk-radio and talk-television hosts are attacking anyone who tries to suggests that angry political rhetoric, weak gun laws or inadequate programs to address mental illness might offer an explanation for the Tucson shooting rampage that left Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords wounded and six Arizonans dead.
They are even condemning the local sheriff for daring to offer his perspective—as a lawman with more than five decades of experience—on how Arizona’s toxic political climate might have influenced an unstable man with a gun.
One of the standard lines rattling around the conservative echo chamber in recent days has been the claim that it is disrepectful of the victims to "politicize" the discussion of what happened in Tucson. Genuine, wide-ranging dialogue that fails to follow their rigid talking points is "playing politics," argues Rush Limbaugh.