Saturday, January 15, 2011

Palin Pathetically Pleads Persecution

I can’t say I’m surprised that Sarah Palin has gotten into my blog again after half a year of nothing since Christine O’Donnell took her place for inept female politicians (and there are adept ones, don’t misunderstand me). And now she’s painting herself into a corner with her ignorance on Jewish-Christian issues. In particular, she thinks the term “blood libel” can be separated from the history it has of Christians slaughtering Jews; since many thought that the Israelite descendants kidnapped and killed Christian children and used their blood for various occult rituals. Any appropriate use of the term would have to involve actual persecution of Jews. But Palin says she, a good Christian woman, is the target of a blood libel against her since she can’t admit she might be somewhat guilty in using decidedly gun heavy rhetoric in rallying Tea Party members to fight against big government, by any means necessary, I imagine. And this rhetoric persisted in using what appeared to be target signs on various politicians in Arizona, including Gabrielle Giffords, nearly killed by a shot to the head from Jared Lee Loughner, who killed at least 6 people in his rampage in Tucson. Some claim Palin’s use of the targets may have motivated Loughner to the act against Giffords by association the target with a gun and Palin’s own phrase that she throws around of “Don’t retreat, reload,”

There’s a tragic irony in this, since Giffords herself was a Reform Jew, so it’s like twisting the knife in her parent’s wounds. Saying you’re the victim of a “blood libel” from people accusing you of influencing a maniac to make an assassination attempt on a Jew is like a Christian using the term “witch hunt”, which I imagine might not be uncommon in some areas today even with Wicca becoming more popular (though Wiccans are NOT witches, I must clarify). The Anti Defamation League strongly objected to Palin’s use, along with scholars of religion, such as Stephen Prothero and Mary C. Boys, who concentrates on this area of religious studies. While it has become part of English parlance, not unlike the phrase witch hunt, to use “blood libel” with a meaning separate from its historical context of Christian anti Semitism; which I admit is a minority today, since it is popular in Christian circles now to pray for Israel and such; it seems unfair to Jews in some way to use that term in such a nonchalant fashion, as if the Jews have just forgotten it, like the Holocaust, or just silently accept that people will always indirectly use anti semitic phrases in new unrelated ways. The medieval paranoia that might have just been a cover for anti Semitism under the similar hysteria around vampires; the Jews allegedly used blood in their rituals, therefore in the medieval mindset, they were kin with vampires. Makes as much sense as any other conspiracy theory.

I don’t think anyone is going to outright criticize Palin for her attempt to defend herself against these accusations, which, while plausible on some level, seem no different from scapegoating that has happened throughout times of crisis, creating someone to be the one to take the blame and otherwise become a pariah. Palin’s rhetoric might have only been a slight factor alongside Jared Lee Loughner’s alleged favorite books, including Hitler’s Mein Kampf. He may very well have been unstable from the beginning and the outside environmental influences may have triggered what was already somewhat genetically predisposed. There’s little reason to place the blame completely on any one person for even triggering Loughner’s insanity or his behavior, since he might have been behaving in what he believed to be a rational course of action, even if everyone else around him would have thought otherwise. There’s a justified criticism of sorts by Democrats of Republicans, Tea Party supporters especially, of the ease with which the assassin got a weapon with which to commit his crime, since they’re all for gun rights being increased (right?). The fact that Jared Loughner had no previous mental health evaluations or even any significant crimes on his record eliminated any difficulties that would’ve been clues from the start that he was someone that probably should not have gotten a gun at all. His belief in conspiracy theories was one of many manifestations in recent years that he was unstable, though the reason he was never forcefully taken for evaluations was because his erratic and outright insane behavior was nonetheless regarded as not posing any direct danger to anyone else around him. He was expelled from community college for this behavior, only allowed back in if he got a certified examination demonstrating his sanity. Later on, the military rejected his application on the grounds that he was mentally unfit. I would think at this point the military might’ve suggested that Loughner get evaluated by a psychologist/psychiatrist, but again, by this point, he may’ve been so far gone that it didn’t register.

And one last irritant in this whole terrible incident are claims that Loughner’s actions were motivated by his alleged atheism. There are already issues with this, since his reading list varies from theistic to atheistic authors, Plato and Hitler both having theistic tendencies and Ayn Rand and Karl Marx atheists of one stripe or another. The picture showing what appeared to observers to be a shrine with a skull doesn’t seem to show anything of atheism, since an atheist wouldn’t probably feel any need to erect any kind of area of worship, since it would be unnecessary to make pleas to divinities to dole out rewards or punishments. Not to mention that, regardless of whether you believe or disbelieve in the divine, when you’re stark raving mad, I don’t think you’re going to rethink that existential question so quickly when you take a Glock and starting firing wildly into a crowd. It’s pretty clear that the individual is the primary agent of responsibility in committing a crime, but there’s always room for considering a secondary agent as responsible by negligence. If you suspect someone is a danger to others by their behavior and thought patterns as far as they indicate them and you don’t do anything about it, then one can say you are nearly as culpable on some level as the person who takes a box cutter to a stranger’s throat. All in all, the blame game everyone’s playing is a start, but with Palin’s particular term being used outside of actual Jewish persecution, it’s no wonder that she’s spiraling down into mediocrity both politically and culturally to the level of Michael Jackson still being used as the punch line. Until next time, Namaste and aloha.

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