As Media Matters has documented, a number of right-wing media figures, most recently Sarah Palin, have suggested that attempts by some in the media to link violent conservative rhetoric to last weekend's shooting in Arizona constitutes an attempt to “manufacture a blood libel.”
In an article at The Daily Beast, Howard Kurtz writes that “Palin chose to throw kerosene on the embers of a smoldering national controversy,” and that it “sounds like the response of someone who wants to stoke her base and further her lucrative career as a culture warrior--not someone who is plotting to run for president.” He adds:
Blood libel, for those who are not familiar, describes a false accusation that minorities--usually Jews--murder children to use their blood in religious rituals, and has been a historical theme in the persecution of the Jewish people.
Had Palin scoured a thesaurus, she could not have come up with a more inflammatory phrase.
As someone who has argued that linking her rhetoric to the hateful violence of Jared Loughlin is unfair, I can imagine that the former governor was angry about how liberal detractors dragged her into this story.
But after days of silence, she had a chance to speak to the country in a calmer, more inclusive way. She could have said that all of us, including her, needed to avoid excessively harsh or military-style language, without retreating one inch from her strongly held beliefs.
Instead she went the blood libel route.
Kurtz is not alone in criticizing the “blood libel” claim; National Review Online's Jonah Goldberg has said that while he agrees with Palin's larger point, “the use of this particular term in this context isn't ideal.”