Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pat Buchanan on blood libels

Pat Buchanan, our favorite anti-Semite in public life, who is still inexplicably viewed kindly by most of the mainstream media, came out with an aggressive defense of Sarah Palin's use of the phrase "blood libel" to refer to what she believes is slander against her by those calling her out for her use of violent language and imagery: Sarah Palin's Use Of Blood Libel Was 'Excellent'.

His words:
Pat Buchanan said Wednesday that Sarah Palin has been a victim of the media in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), and she was right to use the phrase "blood libel" in defending herself from charges that her language had anything to do with the mass shooting.
"Frankly I thought it was an excellent statement with regard to the phrase 'blood libel'," Buchanan said. "That of course refers to the libel that was used in the Middle Ages, charges against Jews that were utterly unsupportable slanders and I think she's using it in that context."
So apparently someone has accused Sarah Palin of killing young children and using their blood for strange rituals? Odd, I hadn't heard that charge lately.

P.S. Alan Dershowitz has defended the legitimacy of Palin using the phrase "blood libel," while the ADL has condemned it. Dershowitz notes:
The term “blood libel” has taken on a broad metaphorical meaning in public discourse. Although its historical origins were in theologically based false accusations against the Jews and the Jewish People, its current usage is far broader. I myself have used it to describe false accusations against the State of Israel by the Goldstone Report. There is nothing improper and certainly nothing anti-Semitic in Sarah Palin using the term to characterize what she reasonably believes are false accusations that her words or images may have caused a mentally disturbed individual to kill and maim. The fact that two of the victims are Jewish is utterly irrelevant to the propriety of using this widely used term.
Far be it from me to disagree with the distinguished Professor Dershowitz, but the fact that he used it in the case of his criticism of the Goldstone Report hardly validates the use of the term outside of the proper historical context. At various times when I've been living in Israel I've heard Israeli politicians use the phrase to protest against other people's (usually correct) criticisms of their (often corrupt) behavior. This metaphorical use has always struck me as an absurdly exaggerated attempt to play on the sympathies of the audience.

I would prefer to use the phrase "blood libel" to refer to actual blood libels.

The first recorded blood libel was the accusation in 1144 that 12-year-old William of Norwich had been murdered by Jews for ritual purposes before Passover. The Medieval Sourcebook has published the first written account, from 1173, by Thomas of Monmouth, of the supposed torture and death of William at the hands of local Jews. [Warning: not for the faint of heart]. Accusations of ritual murder by Jews for religious purposes have been made since then, including up to the present in the Arab world.

Not a phrase to use lightly.

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