Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The wrong target

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Here is what Mrs Palin, the ex-governor of Alaska, told Fox News last night:

'Blood libel obviously means being falsely accused of having blood on your hands.'

This is fascinating. No politician, except possibly Boris Johnson and Barney Frank, says anything much without weighing the ramifications. Some even test lines with focus groups before they open their mouths. Sarah Palin is not clever, but she is savvy. She knows her base. She will not have said this without consideration.

I find it almost impossible to believe that she does not know what blood libel means, but I suppose I must take her at her word. Either that, or she has decided that professing ignorance is less damaging than admitting that she used an inflammatory phrase on purpose. It is the use of the word 'obviously' that makes me nuts. No, Mrs P, it is not obviously. Obviously, blood libel means the hideous story from the middle ages that Jewish people used the blood of Christian children to make matzos. And obviously it is an amazing act of narcissism to accuse what you call 'pundints' of committing blood libel against you.

Amazed, livid, exasperated and befuddled as Sarah Palin makes me, I start to wonder if she is not the wrong target in all this. I stayed away from the row between left and right after the Tucson shootings, because it seemed to me so complicated. I could not see a direct causal link between the flame-throwing language of the right and the act of a lone gunman. On the other hand, the incontinent rhetoric of fury - the secret Muslim, fascist communist, death panel, unAmerican Kenyan accusations against this president - can only be a bad thing in itself. It might be free speech, but it achieves nothing. It spreads fear and lies: the Obama administration has not taken anyone's gun, nor killed anyone's grandma, despite endless insistence to the contrary.

Palin says things which are not true, and which are manifestly stupid. Palling around with terrorists was probably the worst, as if Barack Obama took tea with Osama bin Laden; the creation of 'death panels' was the most egregious. But it is as nothing compared to the statements of Glenn Beck, who has not been mentioned so much in all this.

I just read a book about Beck, who is a phenomenon so strange I hardly understand it at all. I knew a little of him, mostly through the satire of Jon Stewart, but a whole book of his antics, with story after story of paranoia, invented conspiracy, shouting, cussing, and outright lies almost made my eyes bleed. Here are some highlights, if I can use that word without it being a blatant oxymoron:

On Michael Moore:

'I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore. I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out. Is this wrong? I stopped wearing my What Would Jesus Do band, and I've lost all sense of right and wrong now. I used to be able to say, "Yeah, I'd kill Michael Moore," and then I'd see the little band: What Would Jesus Do? And then I'd realize, "Oh, you wouldn't kill Michael Moore. Or at least you wouldn't choke him to death." And you know, well, I'm not sure.'

On Gloria Steinem:

'You pinhead. You self-centred, self-righteous socialist, out-of-control, dangerous, man-hating bitch. Shut your mouth. We might have bought into this crap in the 1960s because too many people were doing LSD. We’re not on LSD anymore. You need to start making sense.'

On the presidency:

'The most used phrase in my administration if I were to be President would be "What the hell you mean we're out of missiles?"'

On Barack Obama:

'This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture, I don't know what it is…This guy is, I believe, a racist.'

(I'm not even going to go into the endless comparisons with Hitler. There are limits.)

On the Democrats:

'Let me give you the last piece of evidence that there is a revolution going on, and it is coming. It is — there is a revolution, and they think they can get away with it quietly. They think they — and they — they — you know what? At this point, gang, I'm not sure, they may be able to because they are so far ahead of us. They know what they're dealing against; most of America does not yet. Most of America doesn't have a clue as to what's going on. There is a coup going on. There is a stealing of America, and the way it is done, it has been done through the guise of an election, but they lied to us the entire time. Some of us knew! Some of us we're shouting out: "this guy's a Marxist"… And they're gonna say, "we did it democratically," and they are going to grab power every way they can. And God help us in an emergency.'

And again, for good measure, just in case people did not get it the first time:

'I'm telling you, they have their hands around the neck of the republic. They are much farther ahead, we're just figuring it out. They have their hands around the neck of this republic and they are about to snap it, if we don't wake up.'

On dogs and fire hoses:

'I wouldn't be surprised if in our lifetime dogs and fire hoses are released or opened on us. I wouldn't be surprised if a few of us get a billy club to the head. I wouldn't be surprised if, you know, some of us go to jail just like Martin Luther King did on trumped up charges. Tough times are coming.'

On universities:

'There was a time not too long ago in this country that we used to walk through walls of fire to make sure we weren't funding Hamas or Hezbollah. I have news for you: there are a lot of universities that are just as dangerous with indoctrination of our children as these terror groups are in Iran or North Korea… America, while you have been working hard, while you have been busting your butt, while you have thought we all generally agree on things, we have been setting up re-educations camps. We call them 'universities'.

On the White House:

'You have three people in the White House who are in love with eugenics'.

Now I am going to wash my brain out with soap.

Here are your pictures of the day.


18th Jan 1


18th Jan 2

18th Jan 6

Training. Sit, stay:

18th Jan 7


18th Jan 8

Scottish colours:

18th Jan 8-1

18th Jan 9


18th Jan 11


18th Jan 10

18th Jan 4

Today's hill, which appears to be mauve:

18th Jan 13

I'm suddenly thinking I don't want to mention Glenn Beck on this blog ever again. There's only so much ugliness the mind can stand. I feel a bit like John Barrymore, who left the theatre and went to Hollywood to work in films. He refused ever to learn the script, insisting that assistants with idiot boards contorted themselves about the set so he could read his lines. David Niven, who tells this story in Bring on the Empty Horses, once asked him why. It's a long time since I read the book, but Barrymore said something like: 'my mind is full of beauty - Hamlet's soliloquys, the Queen Mab Speech - you expect me to sully it with this shit?'

My mind is not quite as stuffed with beauty as John Barrymore's, but I do know some Yeats and Auden and Eliot and parts of The Great Gatsby off by heart. Like all good schoolgirls, I know the whole of the tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow speech.I'm not sure I want any more of this shit, as the great Shakespearian actor so eloquently put it.


  1. Much as I enjoy our posts, I often ask myself why Brits are so desperately interested and super-knowledgeable about every apect of American politics.They seem to know every right-wing TV presenter by name and follow him with their wrath. Would that Americans knew as much about British politics! Or, even... that "the Briddish" (as Americans would say) took their European neighbours as seriously as they take everything and anything happening in the US. Believe me, there's a lot of facinating stuff going on here, too!

  2. Beeches, dogs, hills, Scottish colours: utterly beautiful, as always.

    Glenn Beck: if we parcelled him up and sent him to Scotland, do you think you could persuade him to Sit and Stay too? Preferably for long enough to be submerged in a convenient loch?

    I am amused to see that my word verification for this entry is yobcult. Delightful, given the yob we have just been discussing.

  3. ..."your posts", sorry-typo!

  4. Margit - really interesting point. I do rather agree with you. Too much to say in a comment; I think I shall do a whole post on the subject later in the week.

    Cassie - picture of someone teaching Glenn Beck to SIT AND STAY is making me laugh and laugh and laugh.

  5. Thank you for your sane words. I agree with you on the direct cause and effect issue. I do think the more we hear the inflammatory diatribe, the more we become desensitized to the idea of using our second amendment rights instead of our right to vote. It is heartwrenching to me the number of ignorant people who are sucked into this crazy thinking....okay, i'm going to have to unload on my own blog now! =) so much to say!

  6. Hello Tania - so today I was driving up the A3 - road from the South to London and passed the Queen Elizabeth Country Park where there is a nice big hill, not unlike your hill. I decided on my journey that I take it all back about flouting the hill project and posting an old picture. I am now genuinely interested in your hill each new day; it's a wonder! And those darling dawgs of yours...is it me or do they have the sweetest ears? Never have I dwelt on dog's ear so much as on your blog. And as for Palin...words fail me. Lou xx

  7. Thank goodness for the beautiful pictures and Cassie's funny comment. I'd have been feeling thoroughly gloomy otherwise after reading those horrendous quotes from Glenn Beck.

    May we have more dog photos tomorrow to complete the soothing process?

  8. That hideous man and seeing his words on the screen left a bad taste in my mouth.
    Thank goodness for shiny black coats, perfectly tilted ears and calm hills!

  9. Beeches, dogs, hills, Scottish colours.those photo is so pretty and your aticle write so good

  10. Dear Tania,

    I've never commented on a blog before. Come to think of it I have never followed a blog before but I think you and I must have been bosom buddies in a previous life. Our interests are identical.

    re Palin, So glad you picked up on "pundints". Did you hear her say "pruports" too? Words fail me...

  11. Despite that quote "keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer..." I refuse to give any more of my brain space/ time than absolutely necessary to Glenn Beck and his ilk. I know who he he is, I've heard him (on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, on MSNBC, on channel surfing past Faux...er FoxNews, now there's an oxymoron!).
    What continues to astound (and depress) me is how many people apparently hang on Beck's every word.
    I'm sure the "nutters" in England have their particular fans BUT, it seems to me (& I may be delusional!?!) that the lines are more clearly drawn. The Beck/ Palin, Hannity, et al poison seems more insidious.
    On a totally different note, husband just informed me America can now be officially classified as a "banana republic", according to a New York Times article. The definition has to do with the wealthiest one percent of a country's citizens owning 20 percent of the national income (actually it's 24% in the U.S.)

    Thank you, thank YOU for your daily hills. The colors in the first photo, in particular, just knocked my socks off!

    Pat (in Belgium wondering about my fellow Americans)

  12. sjd69 - think the desentising thing is such a good point.

    Lou - love that you are thinking about the hill! As for the ears, you are most observant. When children come here, I always tell them to feel the dogs' ears, because they are like VELVET. (One of the sweetest thing about the ladyships is their adoration of anyone under three feet high.)

    Alex - you know it is very dangerous to ask for the dog photographs, because I WILL give them to you. :)

    Em - I think you are right about the shiny black coats. They do make almost everything better.

    bykicks - thank you so much; very kind comment.

    Anon - hurrah for your first blog comment. Very flattered you chose mine on which to make it. So glad am not the only one who finds pundints maddening.

    Pat - so many interesting points, esp the banana republic shock. Do think that in America the extremes are more extreme than in Britain, which is partly why American politics fascinates me so. But also I do think there is a great, good, forgotten middle of reasonable people who get on with their lives in Iowa and Vermont and Arkansas and Oregon, and who think Glenn Beck is as much of an abomination as you and I do. It's just that they don't make the papers.

  13. How come I am just discovering your blog? It's wonderful, and I am now a follower. As long as you don't ever mention Glenn Beck again. ;-)


Your comments give me great delight, so please do leave one.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin