I thought I’d never blog again, but Z’s just sent along his thoughts on Sarah Palin and the blood libel, and finally I have something worth saying. Or he does, really, but I’m going to say it for him.
It is of course possible that Palin’s speech writers pulled the image our their bag of paranoid rhetoric without much thought. But it’s unlikely, since analysis reveals that the image actually works brilliantly. The first layer of unpacking shows that she’s using all the implications of the original with the Christians and Jews reversed, such that in the blood libel
(a) Christians falsely accuse (b) Jews of (c) a conspiracy to kill a Christian
and in Palin’s version
(a) Democrats — who, as we all know are mostly Jews, headed up by a Black (=Muslim) falsely accuse (b) Palin, who = Christians of (c) a conspiracy to kill Giffords, who is a Jew
which basically comes down to
(a) Jews falsely accuse (b) Christians of (c) a conspiracy to kill a Jew.
So far so good. Palin is the honest Jew, falsely accused of murder and conspiracy. But let’s go on to layer number two. This involves the simple fact that the blood libel is false — in fact, it’s more than false: it represents malicious and enduring Christian hatred of Jews. If there’s anything like an actual conspiracy at work in the blood libel, it’s a conspiracy on the part of the Christian leadership to malign Jews.
Now, translate that into the Palin version. Not only is there no Republican-Christian conspiracy to kill Democrats-Muslims-Jews; on the contrary, there is a conspiracy on the part of the Demoratic-Jewish-Muslim leadership to malign Republican-Christians.
St. Paul already said the Christians were the true Jews, the legitimate children of Abraham, while actual physical Jews were false Jews, the illegitimate children. Palin’s role reversal therefore has roots in the origin of her tradition, even deeper than the blood libel itself. Rhetorically, it’s a beautiful thing.