Sarah Palin is right.  If anyone has been harmed the most in the Arizona shooting spree it’s clearly her and it’s about time America laments her suffering.  But that aside, Sarah Palin is right to say she’s not to blame for the tragedy of the Arizona shooting.  But on the flip side, does that mere fact make Palin’s inflammatory, violence-tinged partisan rhetoric any less reckless?

Is the lack of causation enough to make Palin’s bull’s-eye political “lock and reload” rhetoric beyond condemnation, or by her, introspection?  To put it another way, is driving drunk with a blindfold over my eyes and my child in my car okay so long as I never kill anyone?

Yes, it’s ridiculous for anyone to say that Sarah Palin caused the shooting.  Unfortunately, for Miss Wasilla, pretty much nobody was actually saying that.  What people were suggesting is that perhaps the Arizona shooting should give us all, all of us, a time-out for some introspection as to our role in the state of political dialogue in this country at this particular moment.  A moment of silence isn’t just to look somber in the face of tragedy after all, but to actual reflect on the events and learn meaning for it, and yes, grow from it.

Today’s Facebook/prepared televised statement from PalinLand lacked that.  In the rush to attack the strawmen, Palin failed to show any human side at all.  In her incessant victimhood, Palin failed to acknowledge something that her own partisan, ideologically driven “news network” has recognized—maybe its time for us all to cool off a bit before the next shooting is our fault.  Instead, she yet again took the nation stage to play let’s blame the media.   The left.  Quote Reagan.  Rinse and repeat.

Palin missed an opportunity to take her public persona to a higher level.    To reach out and connect with the better angels of our being.  Her contrived statement reflects the reason why so many Americans can’t stand her… it is filled with self-contradictions in which Palin’s rhetoric is disconnected from the reality of her own recent past:

“Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions.  And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere.”

This from a woman who quit her job mostly to devote herself to constantly bashing everything the victor in her last election has done, even to go so far as to attack his wife for talking about personal responsibility and parental responsibility over the very real health epidemic called childhood obesity.

“Just days before she was shot, Congresswoman Giffords read the First Amendment on the floor of the House. It was a beautiful moment…”

Just the day before she was shot, Congresswoman Giffords wrote that we needed to cool down the political rhetoric in this country.  It was a beautiful moment.

Just because Palin isn’t to blame for what an obviously mentally ill person did doesn’t mean it would be horrible for her to realize that in the heat of the campaign (and since then), perhaps–just perhaps–she realizes that her rhetoric went a little too far, could incite people to violence, and someone could get hurt or killed.  But instead of taking personal responsibility for the excess of rhetoric she has used in the past and leading by example, Team Palin preaches it while hiding behind excuses that crosshairs were really surveyor marks, etc.

“But, 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. That is reprehensible.”—Sarah Palin today on Arizona mass shootings.

Palin is right.  Pundits shouldn’t manufacture a “blood libel” that only serves to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn.  But during a moment of national tragedy, Sarah Palin speaks out to the nation to give it… media criticism.

"I certainly do, and I think that there were massive warning flags that were missed all over the place, and I think that it was quite unfortunate that, to me, it was a fear of being politically incorrect to not — I am going to use the word — profile this guy, profile in the sense of finding out what his radical beliefs were."

"Now, because I used the word profile, I am going to get clobbered tomorrow morning.  The liberals, their heads are just going to be spinning.  They’re going to say she is radical, she is extreme."—Sarah Palin on Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Nov. 18, 2009 about the Ft. Hood shootings less than two weeks after they occurred.

Speaking of blood libels, Mrs. Palin.

“Mr. President, should they or should they not build a mosque steps away from where radical Islamists killed 3,000 people? Please tell us your position. We all know that they have the right to do it, but should they? And, no, this is not above your pay grade.”—Sarah Palin in Politico [Aug. 13, 2010]

It would be nice to think that the same Sarah Palin that spoke the words today was somehow different, evolved (or whatever the creationist equivalent is for personal growth), than the woman who conflated the Muslims who wanted to build a community center to foster multicultural, multi-faith understanding with people who claimed to do the most terrible acts imaginable in an evil, warped hijacking of  the same religion.

How does Palin reconcile her demonization of the Park51 project with her lecture today?  She could have chosen the road to acknowledge that in the past she herself has failed to live up to the standard she demands other meet in treating her.  She could have said, as countless other pundits have already said from all sides of the political spectrum, that I’m going to change my tone, even though I wasn’t responsible.

Instead, we got Palin the Forgotten Arizona Shooting Victim who is blameless for anything she says… so long as that car never crashes into someone.

 
  • tvh

    Great post.

  • Fotogirlcb2002

    No Sarah Palin is not to blame for the tragic shootings in Arizona BUT showing a crosshair on towns where people live is feeding the problem of the split between the parties. ( of this country)
    It would have been so much more gracious to say she was sorry if that offended anyone and she would correct the site instead she choose to bring attention to herself and her beliefs.
    This is a sad time for those families and she continues to be the center of attention.

  • Anonymous

    Palin is an idiot. And the more you guys go after her by framing her as a right wing extremist, the more the Republican nominee is going to look like a moderate, as long as they are even a little be left of her. Not saying you are doing that in your post, just sayin’.

    About the rhetoric – stop it, will you? Those who jump the chasm between vitriolic rhetoric and violence are solely responsible for their actions. Will you condemn this?

    “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” –Candidate Barack Obama, June 2008, Philadelphia.

    To quote a popular comedian:

    “Fuck Civility. Hyperbole, passion, and metaphor are beautiful parts of rhetoric. Marketplace of ideas can not be toned down for the insane.”

  • ThatDeborahGirl

    The funny thing is – no one, that I can see has said that Palin or her map caused the shooting. But she is being held up as an example of how violent rhetoric spreads- and how even if she thinks it’s all fun and games, a lot of people don’t get that.

    She is not to blame. She didn’t directly go out and tell anyone to shoot somebody. But she has made it plain that she enjoys gun culture and hunting. She has also made it plain that she may kinda sorta think it’s ok to kill people she doesn’t like or simply agree with. Michael Vick and Julian Assange come to mind.

    It’s simply not an overstatement that her violent rhetoric and images were simply a branch on a pile. She didn’t light the match, but she was definitely a part of the fire.

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