Joel B. Pollak: From Blood Libel to Lynching

An excellent piece by Joel B. Pollak at Big Government.  An excerpt follows:

Palin-haters are attempting to turn Gov. Sarah Palin’s reasonable and empathic response today to the Tucson atrocity into an antisemitic outburst.

Palin, like Glenn Reynolds (and, independently, Andrew Breitbart) used the term “blood libel” to describe the way in which opportunistic politicians and journalists seized on the shooting spree to demonize the Tea Party and conservatives in general.

The original “blood libel” is the false accusation (originating in medieval Europe, still repeated in the Arab world) that Jews murder non-Jewish children for ritual purposes, a claim used throughout history to incite hatred and sometimes violence against Jewish communities.

Some conservatives–including Reynolds, Gov. Palin, Breitbart, and others–are suggesting that today’s media climate, in which millions of people are being falsely accused of complicity in the Tucson murders simply because of their belief in limited government, has analogous features. (Charles Krauthammer used the term “libel” today in the Washington Post, without the additional word “blood,” and it is possible that he intended to imply similar metaphor, albeit less directly.)

Of course, the Jews of medieval Europe who were the victims of the blood libel did not have the political freedom that Americans enjoy today, and which we conservatives are using to defend ourselves. That is such an obvious difference that no one felt it necessary to make the point when using the analogy–which, like any analogy, is inexact and open to debate.

There is also nothing unusual about using a term with a specific historical origin and applying it to other cases. We use the term “lynching” to describe the unfair targeting of a particular individual, even though lynching emerged from a very painful context of racial prejudice against blacks the American South. Few argue that the term “lynching” is off limits for that reason.

More here.

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