Sarah Palin Misses an Opportunity (Updated)

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Well, I guess Sarah Palin isn't going to use her famous "blood libel" misstep to humbly admit the limits of her knowledge and to show respect for history:

(Palin) dismissed suggestions that she did not know the historical significance of the phrase.

"Blood libel obviously means being falsely accused of having blood on your hands and in this case," Ms. Palin said, "that's exactly what was going on."

Imagine if Palin had said this: "I should not have used that exact phrase, blood libel, because it refers to something very specific in history, the false accusation against Jews that they use Christian blood to make matzo for Passover. It's a terrible, destructive lie, not least because Jesus himself ate matzo at the Last Supper.  I didn't know about this despicable calumny before, but I'm glad I do now, and I hope to use my platform to educate people about the history of anti-Semitism and other prejudices."

Imagine.

UPDATE: Goldblog reader MDS suggests that I'm being too gentle here:

What she has done is significantly more insidious than merely "miss an opportunity". Yes, she has, again, in the political sense, defined the crisis wholly in terms of how she perceives its impact upon her (as part of her continuing attempt -- with apologies to Al Franken -- to make this the "Sarah Palin Decade").  But in mistakenly stating what "[b]lood libel obviously means" she has literally (and I mean "literally" in the literal sense) redefined "blood libel" away from its anti-Semitic roots.  Given the extent of her following, one ought no longer wait passively for her to heed political (or even moral) advice from her better angels.  She is dangerous simply because she is so spectacularly ignorant and, in politics, ignorance is a communicable disease.


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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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