Posted by | January 14, 2011 20:28 | Filed under: Contributors News Behaving Badly Opinion Religion Sandi Behrns

by Sandi Behrns

a pogrom. really?Perhaps the kindest way to describe Sarah Palin’s use of the term “blood libel” in her statement on Wednesday would be as an unfortunate faux pas caused by ignorance of its historical context. Worse, we might say it showed a flippant disregard for both that history and the significance of the the attack on Jewish Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Mrs. Palin has taken an awful lot of criticism for her “faux pas,” and it could only be expected that a conservative media outlet such as The Washington Times would come to her defense. What wasn’t expected was that this is the form it would take:

This is simply the latest round of an ongoing pogrom against conservative thinkers. The last two years have seen a proliferation of similar baseless charges of racism, sexism, bigotry, Islamophobia and inciting violence against those on the right who have presented ideas at odds with the establishment’s liberal orthodoxy. (emphasis mine)

That’s right: The Washington Times editorial page defended Palin’s use of the offensive term blood libel by describing this perceived persecution of the half-term governor as a pogrom. As USA Today’s Cathy Lynn Grossman asks, is there no other vocabulary?

Pogrom? Is there no other vocabulary available to discuss the venom in our discourse without raiding the language that specifically stands for the deaths of millions of Jews in historic rampages of anti-Semitism? Is this language not doubly inappropriate as Jewish congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords recovers from a gunshot to her head?

Pogroms were not talk radio bombast and Internet flame posts. They were government sanctioned, if not led, attacks on Jews, primarily but not exclusively in Russia and eastern Europe. Hundreds of thousands died, a tally capped by World War II when Hitler sent in the known as the Einsatzgruppen (Mobile Killing Units) that executed Jews on the lip of mass graves they had been forced to dig for themselves.

In the wake of the tragedy in Tucson, one would think that use of this kind of vitriolic, offensive language would let up, at least for a while; instead, many on the Right are doubling down. Wonder who’s going to defend the Washington Times, and how?

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Sandi Behrns

Sandi Behrns is a noted policy nerd, new media & web developer, and consultant to progressive organizations and campaigns. She is a senior contributor to Liberaland, and the Executive Editor of Progressive Congress News.