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Blood Libel: The Two-Faced Outrage Of The Civility Police

Blood Libel: The Two-Faced Outrage Of The Civility Police

Associate Editor

James Taranto, of The Wall Street Journal’s "Best of the Web" column, unearthed these usages of "Blood libel" from the some of the very same people who are shocked, shocked, that Sarah Palin used the term herself.

Palin’s quote: "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."

All of what follows is from James Taranto:
The outrage of the Palin-haters over the use of the term… is phony. Many of the outraged haters have themselves used the term "blood libel" in similar metaphorical senses, including the New York Times. Here are a couple of examples:

From a Dec. 5, 1989, Times book review: "During the yellow fever plague a form of blood libel is imposed on the blacks in Philadelphia; they are said to be both responsible for and immune to sickness because of the color of their skin."

On Sept. 14, 1990, the late Abe Rosenthal penned a column in response to Pat Buchanan’s assertion, after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, that "there are only two groups that are beating the drums for war in the Middle East – the Israeli Defense Ministry and its amen corner in the United States." Rosenthal countered: "We are not dealing here with country-club anti-Semitism but with the blood libel that often grows out of it: Jews are not like us but are others, with alien loyalties for which they will sacrifice the lives of Americans."

Andrew Sullivan, whose Palin obsession is extreme even by the standards of Palin-haters, wrote yesterday: "We know this much right now: Palin does not possess the self-awareness, responsibility or composure to respond to crises like this with grace. This message–even at a time of national crisis–was a base-rousing rallying cry, perpetuating her own victimhood and alleged bloodthirstiness of her opponents. One would have thought that Palin, like any responsible person in her shoes right now, could have mustered some sort of regret about the unfortunate coincidence of what she had done in the campaign and what happened afterwards. Wouldn’t you?"

Here is the same Andrew Sullivan, showing his typical level of self-awareness, responsibility and composure, in a post of Oct. 12, 2010: "[New York Republican nominee for governor Carl] Paladino speaks of "perverts who target our children and seek to destroy their lives." This is the gay equivalent of the medieval (and Islamist) blood-libel against Jews."

Our favorite example comes from Josh Marshall of, who wrote yesterday, albeit with more smirk than dudgeon:
"The claim that Sarah Palin was the victim of a "blood libel" had been making the rounds in the right-wing media for a few days before Palin decided to make the accusation herself.

"On Nov. 21, 2000, Marshall quoted then-Rep. Peter Deutsch, a Florida Democrat, as complaining on CNN’s "Crossfire" of "almost a blood libel by the Republicans towards Al Gore, saying that he was trying to stop men and women in uniform that are serving this country from voting. Marshall’s response:

". . . almost a blood libel." That’s pretty strong stuff. Strong, but not too strong. Because it’s true….

"You don’t just toss around charges that the possible next president of the United States is conspiring to take the vote away from American soldiers overseas. Given the volatility of the moment and the divisions already existing in American society it really is almost like a blood libel. Almost.

"Deutsch’s analogy is far more of a stretch than Palin’s. No one was accusing Gore of killing children, or anyone else. OK, Deutsch said ‘almost,’ but does anyone think Marshall or the other Palin-haters would have been satisfied had she used the same qualification?

And here’s Ann Coulter on the attempt by the Civility Police to ban all metaphors in the wake of the Arizona shootings.

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