The Politico published an article filled with establishment conservatives attacking Sarah Palin, using a juicy pull quote from Matt Labash of the Weekly Standard for their title: “She’s Becoming Al Sharpton, Alaska Edition.” Supposedly her transformation into the maestro of the Tawana Brawley hoax has been prompted by her “frequent appeals to victimhood and group grievance.”
The central piece of evidence for this claim is Palin’s use of the term “blood libel” to describe the sickening attempt to pin the Tucson massacre on her. Speaking as one who used that term several days before Palin did, I can testify that I received no group grievance discount. It was the first time that came to mind when I saw what the media was trying to do to her, and I wasn’t the only one who thought so.
If the standards applied to Palin in this Politico roundup were to be accepted, no female or minority conservative would be able to defend themselves against any attack, because all such defenses would become “appeals to victimhood.” Try Googling any black or female conservative, and take a look at the vicious racist and sexist assaults they have to put up with on a regular basis. It would be very convenient for the Left if we agreed to make them suffer these assaults in silence, because responding only makes things worse.
Are any liberal figures expected to bite their tongues at such moments? If Barack Obama’s union allies ended up killing someone, and he was blamed for the murder by conservative bloggers, would he be expected to sit quietly and let it slide, because replying to the charge would be an “appeal to victimhood?” (Of course, he’d have to stand on tiptoes to shout over the heads of the media praetorian guard that would close ranks around him within moments.)
Have another look at Palin’s response to the blood libel, keeping in mind the recent display of “civility” from the Left in Wisconsin:
“No one should be deterred from speaking up and speaking out in peaceful dissent, and we certainly must not be deterred by those who embrace evil and call it good. And we will not be stopped from celebrating the greatness of our country and our foundational freedoms by those who mock its greatness by being intolerant of differing opinion and seeking to muzzle dissent with shrill cries of imagined insults.” Does that sound like something Al Sharpton would say?
Palin had to speak out against the attempts to slander her, not only because conservatives cannot allow liberal slander to stick and harden into conventional wisdom, but because she wasn’t the only target. Ultimately, all conservatives were. The same Left that flushed John Edwards down the memory hole as soon as he became an embarrassment would force us to wear “Sarah Palin, Voodoo Murder Priestess” around our necks forever.
It’s hard to understand how Sarah Palin could be simultaneously criticized for wallowing in victimhood and fighting back too vigorously. It sounds more like another doomed attempt to win peace from the Left, and media approval, by letting them rule the person they hate most out of bounds – as if politics were a trial of ideas by jury, and they get to strike down a few jurors of their choice before the contest begins. Of course, they will never grant the same courtesy to conservatives, or arrive at any given moment without a fresh “person they hate most” on tap.
Calling Sarah Palin the “Al Sharpton of Alaska” would be a bit less meaningless if the Al Sharpton of New York wasn’t still a welcome guest at major Democrat events and television shows, over twenty years after the Tawana Brawley hoax. If responding to scurrilous attacks is a wallow through the bubble bath of victimhood for conservatives, but an act of outspoken courage and determination from liberals, then conservatives are fighting a battle we can never win. The future of America calls us to do more than negotiate terms of surrender with the people who are destroying it.