Palin Causes Stir by Evoking 'Blood Libel'
Charged phrase has long history
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2011 12:36 PM CST
Sarah Palin addresses the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, Ky., Thursday, Sept. 16, 2010.   (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)

(Newser) – Sarah's Palin's "blood libel" is the phrase of the day, even setting off an online debate at Politico about her loaded word choice on victimhood. Palin didn't invent the phrase: As AOL News explains, it goes back to the Middle Ages, usually in reference to the myth that Jews used the blood of Christian children in rituals. It first got used in context with Arizona in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Monday, in which Glenn Reynolds blasted the criticism of Palin and others, asking, "Where is the decency in blood libel?"

Much of the debate centers on whether Palin intentionally used it to be provocative, perhaps a testament to how her every utterance can drive a media conversation:

  • Jonah Goldberg, National Review: "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."
  • Ben Smith, Politico (via tweet): "A quick 'blood libel' thought. Palin's aides, including @thegoldfarb, get the context—so this is a pot being stirred, not an accident."
  • Ernest Istook, Heritage Foundation: "It is but one term within Sarah Palin's thoughtful discourse about the Arizona shootings and our ability to discuss our differences vigorously but without violence. Anyone who listens to her entire comment should appreciate that."