Last night on Chris Matthews David Corn said that Sarah Palin’s blood libel comment was the kind of thing that had brought forth pogroms against Jews once. He offered a similar fearful idea at Mother Jones:
Yet for her to equate the criticism she’s received with the genocidal persecution of an entire people demonstrates either ignorance or narcissism. Or both. “Blood libel” is a term that refers to Jews using the blood of children (mainly Christians) for religious practices, and this false accusation has been used to justify violent pogroms against Jews. Palin is not the victim of “blood libel.” But leave it to Palin to deploy such incendiary language to stir up a controversy today…
Does anyone really think Sarah Palin was threatening a pogrom against Jews or even knows what a pogrom is? No. She is too ignorant to know what blood libel means (beyond the bloody sound of it) and if she had known what resonance the term has for Jews she would never have said it. Look this is the woman who wraps herself in an Israel flag and got briefed by the Israel lobby even as she was coming out to the nation in St Paul, September 2008. I can give you 100 reasons to fear and loathe Sarah Palin, pogroms against Jews isn’t one of them.
The pogrom comment is about throwback Jewish identity. You might even say that pogroms are why Jews are Democrats in the first place. As Jerry Muller writes, American political identities have a European tribal component: “to the extent that the Republican party is perceived as defining Ameircan identity in Christian terms, it tends to repel Jews, just as Chistianist parties in Europe once did…. in most of Europe, the doors to the political Right were slammed in Jewish faces by parties that regarded Christianity as integral to national identity…”
Talking about pogroms is invoking a European narrative that has no real bearing on American life. We’ve been here at least 110 years, that’s when my grandfathers came over, and there’s never been a pogrom. If we remain steeped in righteous tales of our victimization, we will never come to grips with our actual responsibility in the U.S.