‘IS THERE NO OTHER VOCABULARY AVAILABLE?’…. I try not to be overly sensitive to suspect language, but this really hasn’t been a great week for the right.
Obviously, Sarah Palin’s use of the phrase “blood libel” generated quite of talk on Wednesday, given the phrase’s loaded historical background. Today, we get another example, with the far-right Washington Times editorial board defending Palin in an editorial:
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.
As those who’ve been engaged in recent years have no doubt noticed, many of the charges of “racism, sexism, bigotry, and Islamophobia” haven’t been “baseless” at all.
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. […]
Should politicians use the vocabulary deadly attack on Jews such as ‘pogrom’ — government sanctioned killings of Jews including the firing squads sent by Hitler in World War II — to signify verbal political attacks? … Is rapping Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh — or Keith Olbermann from the other perspective — really in the same league? Is there no other vocabulary for this discussion on the reign of incivility in public discourse?
I suppose conservatives can argue that the Washington Times editorial board may not have been aware of the significance of the word, and why it might be offensive in this context. Of course, that’s not much of an excuse — there are probably dictionaries available at the paper’s editorial desk.
Or maybe the Times‘ editors are well aware of the significance of the word, and this is yet another instance in which conservatives are feeling sorry for themselves, envisioning the right as a persecuted minority, and Republican leaders as martyrs.
Josh Marshall, who characterized the Times‘ choice of words as “offensive and even disgusting,” added, “I really don’t know what’s with these people.”
I don’t either.