Opinion Brief

Palin's 'blood libel' speech: The correct reaction to the Arizona tragedy?

Responding to the Gabrielle Giffords shootings, Sarah Palin has answered her critics in typically defiant style — but did her choice of words just incite more conflict?

Sarah Palin has given her first formal response to the shootings in Arizona, slamming those who blamed her gun-themed rhetoric and her now-notorious "crosshairs" election map for the shooter's actions. In a video posted online, the Alaskan conservative paid homage to the victims of the massacre, and expressed her "sadness" at the "irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event." (Watch below.) She goes on to say: "Journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn." Was Palin's response unnecessarily provocative and aggressive — or did she say what she needed to say? Here, a sampling of reactions to Palin's statement:

Does Palin even know what "blood libel" is? "Blood libel is a strong term with historically violent connotations," explains Glynnis MacNicol at Business Insider. It refers to the conspiracy theory that the Jews murdered Christian babies to use their blood. You have to wonder — given the "terrible meaning and repercussions" of the phrase, not to mention the "terrible irony that Rep. Giffords is Jewish" — if Palin was "familiar with its actual definition.""Sarah Palin accuses media of 'blood libel' but apparently doesn't understand the terrible, anti-semitic history behind that term"

Actually, blood libel wasn't her phrase: "To be fair to Palin," says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway, "the 'blood libel' characterization did not originate with her." Several conservative writers have used it in recent days to describe her treatment by the liberal media. But she hasn't helped herself by "picking up such an emotionally charged phrase." It will become a "huge controversy.""Sarah Palin blasts media for 'blood libel' against her over Arizona shootings"

It was the best speech she could have made: Palin knew she "needed to engage the debate on her own terms," says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. And this speech was "precisely what [she] needed to say." She makes her point "without lashing out in anger," and emphasizes the "priority of free speech as an underpinning of democracy." Palin did an "excellent job.""Video: 'Journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel'"

Can Palin not admit an error of judgement? Palin had every right to defend herself from "unfair accusations," says Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic. But could she not have "mustered some sort of regret" about the "unfortunate coincidence" of her crosshairs map and Giffords' subsequent shooting? No, because that would require her to "acknowledge misjudgement." That, evidently, is "beyond her." "Palin's test"

We shouldn't expect her to change: This video was "classic Palin," says Mistermix at Balloon Juice. "Sympathy for the victims" combined with "boilerplate platitudes." Did anyone really expect anything else? Her "toned-down appearance and scripted delivery" gave the appearance of reasonableness, but "the message is more or less unchanged." Her fans will be happy, and her critics won't. Plus ça change..."Oh, look, it's Sarah Palin"

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