“Blood libel”? Really?
In her seven-and-a-half minute video, Ms. Palin said that “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.”
Blood libel is typically used to describe the false accusation that Jews murder Christian children to use their blood in religious rituals, in particular the baking of matzos for passover. The term has been used for centuries as the pretext for anti-Semitism and violent pogroms against Jews, and her use of the phrase itself has caused the video to go viral, attracting criticism of her description of the controversy. Ms. Giffords, who remains in critical condition in a Tucson hospital, is Jewish.
I should have said this a few days ago, when my friend Glenn Reynolds introduced the term to this debate. But I think that the use of this particular term in this context isn’t ideal. Historically, the term is almost invariably used to describe anti-Semitic myths about how Jews use blood – usually from children – in their rituals. I agree entirely with Glenn’s, and now Palin’s, larger point. But I’m not sure either of them intended to redefine the phrase, or that they should have.
“Isn’t ideal.” I suppose that’s accurate.