Sarah Palin, Israel, Charles Krauthammer and the Origins of Palin Derangement Syndrome
UPDATE: The estimable Quin Hillyer weighs in.
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It was predicable, indeed automatic: The moment I heard that Representative Giffords had been shot, many questions simultaneously formed: Is she alive? Who did this? Accident? Deliberate? If this was deliberate, how long will it take for ‘Kos’ to try and pin this on the Tea Party? Of course, I was wrong.
Kos named Sarah Palin. (Not quite fast enough on the draw there, bright boy… Matt Yglesias easily beat you to it.)
That Sarah Palin has become a political and cultural lightning rod is old news. There is a phenomenological term her supporters have coined to describe it: Palin Derangement Syndrome (PDS). The condition is not limited to the unhinged and the adolescent. Indeed, it has become acceptable in polite society and elite company to condescend, belittle, trash and even to libel Sarah. For example, run a generic image search for Governor Palin – you’ll see very few flattering images but rather a great many more unflattering shots and not a few obvious Photoshopped fakes:
Yahoo Image Search for Sarah Palin
Following the murders the media were predictably quick to pile-on with overt attempts to link the alleged shooter to Palin and to any manner of “right wing extremism” and the Tea Party movement in general.
Palin responded to Yglesias, Kos and the media Wednesday in a video on her Facebook site, siting them for ‘blood libel’ and obfuscation. The Governor was not the first to publicly use the ‘blood libel’ term. Glenn Reynolds had accused the unhinged two days before in the Wall Street Journal: The Arizona Tragedy and the Politics of Blood Libel.
What of ‘blood libel’? It did not strike a raw nerve until Palin, too, applied the term:
lol………she is a deranged retard who is using words that she doesn’t even know……that imbecile sounds so fake.
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That idiot is rambling so much crap, and she is not our country’s “top representative of libertarian values” , more like the top representative of dunces and morons.
And she’s being an anti-Semite [sic!] for accusing people of “blood libel”. - commenter ‘Lofo’ at Libertarian Republican
“I found her speech unobjectionable, unremarkable but unnecessary,” he said. “Of course, anybody who is attacked as she was has the right to defend herself in public. However, it wasn’t as if others hadn’t counteracted the calumny about her and others being responsible in some way for the massacre in Tucson. By the time she had the video on her website, the debate was over. The left, which had launched the accusation, had been completely defeated, ‘refudiated’ if you like, and disgraced over this. There wasn’t a shred of evidence and the battle was over. I mean, it was a rout to make the Pickett’s Charge look like a draw.” – Charles Krauthammer on Fox News Channel
“There wasn’t a shred of evidence,” sure, but the battle was over? Charles Krauthammer is right… until he isn’t. First Palin’s comments were “unobjectionable” and yet strangely subject to Krauthammer’s condescending objections, cheap-shots and errors in assumption. This is not the first time. I find Krauthammer’s PDS inexplicable and for such an intellect, irrational and I daresay lazy.
To the point, Krauthammer is dead wrong: The debate is hardly over. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach responded today with Sarah Palin Is Right About ‘Blood Libel': Judaism rejects the idea of collective responsibility for murder.
Despite the strong association of the term with collective Jewish guilt and concomitant slaughter, Sarah Palin has every right to use it. The expression may be used whenever an amorphous mass is collectively accused of being murderers or accessories to murder.
The abominable element of the blood libel is not that it was used to accuse Jews, but that it was used to accuse innocent Jews—their innocence, rather than their Jewishness, being the operative point. Had the Jews been guilty of any of these heinous acts, the charge would not have been a libel.
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To be sure, America should embrace civil political discourse for its own sake, and no political faction should engage in demonizing rhetoric. But promoting this high principle by simultaneously violating it and engaging in a blood libel against innocent parties is both irresponsible and immoral.
Abe Foxman notwithstanding, many American Jews side with Governor Palin on cultural issues and find much political common ground. The bond is strengthened further: Palin is a vocal supporter of Israel, and like Israel, knows what it is like to be bullied, demeaned and libeled; and like Israel, she’s tough as nails. Thus the many sources of PDS may well have roots in blood libels ancient.
Sources of Palin Derangement Syndrome can be clearly found in blood libels present. George Gilder’s The Israel Test succinctly describes the politics of envy:
The central issue in international politics, dividing the world into two fractious armies, is the tiny state of Israel.
The prime issue is not a global war of civilizations between the West and Islam or a split between Arabs and Jews. These conflicts are real and salient, but they obscure the deeper moral and ideological war. The real issue is between the rule of law and the rule of leveler egalitarianism, between creative excellence and covetous “fairness,” between admiration of achievement versus envy and resentment of it.
Israel defines a line of demarcation. On one side, marshaled at the United Nations and Universities around the globe, are those who see capitalism as a zero-sum game in which success comes at the expense of the poor and the environment: every gain for one party comes at the cost of another. On the other side are those who see the genius and the good fortune of some as a source of wealth and opportunity for all.
“Make the Rich Pay!” “Workers of the World Unite!” “Capitalism Kills!”
That individual achievement and prosperity comes at the expense and lives of “others” is parasitical collectivism’s blood libel against the successful. The history of Jewish civilization is rife with it. Those who dare to admire or align with Jews become suspect and, like the Jews, those who choose to advance and prosper become targets.
It goes a long, long way to explain PDS. Sarah Palin inspires envy: She is beautiful, articulate, hard-working and highly successful. Her political rise was meteoric; Her businesses, books and television products are extraordinarily profitable; Sarah’s activism and political influence proved itself in the Congressional Elections of 2010 where the great majority of her endorsements succeeded.
In Judaism we describe women such as Sarah as an Eshet Hayil – a Woman of Valor. Given Sarah Palin’s strength in the Tea renaissance, we may eventually call her Madam President.