What a day for rhetoric! Its low was exemplified by none other than Sarah Palin, but its high, appropriately enough, was delivered by President Barack Obama. I shared the first with my Contemporary Studies class today, and will do the same with the second on Friday.
Yesterday saw a delayed, but carefully crafted seven minute video response by Sarah Palin to the shrill accusations that her violent rhetoric contributed to the Arizona shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. In it she chides “journalists and pundits” (mispronounced “pundints” in the video) for manufacturing a “blood libel” that incites the behavior it “purports” to condemn. “Blood libel” is a very highly charged, historically specific term connoting false accusations of ritual murder by Jews of Christian children. By equating recent days of personal criticism with centuries of anti-Semitism, she exhibits either her historical and political ignorance OR her brilliance in pandering with coded phrases to her conservative, suspicious-of-liberal-i.e.-Jewish-media base. Either way, it’s provocative, divisive and unhelpful.
Then later in the day Obama delivered an amazingly moving speech at the memorial for the Tucson shooting victims that included a call for civility and honesty as well as a lovely image of nine year-old Christina Greene jumping in rain puddles in heaven. *That’s* healing….