News Roundup: Palin Uses Stereotype-Laden Language

This week was a controversial one in the world of religion. From Sarah Palin’s “blood libel” remark to a Canadian court decision requiring civil commissioners to marry gay and lesbian couples to ongoing violence in Nigeria, religion made the headlines.

Blood Libel
A turn of phrase in Sarah Palin’s reaction to the media response to the Tucson shootings has Jewish leaders up in arms.
 
“Palin called efforts to attribute blame for the shooting "reprehensible," saying that "especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn."” (Washington Post)
 
Jewish groups including the ADL and J Street immediately came out against the statement. Wrote Abe Foxman, head of the ADL:
“It was inappropriate at the outset to blame Sarah Palin and others for causing this tragedy or for being an accessory to murder.  Palin has every right to defend herself against these kinds of attacks, and we agree with her that the best tradition in America is one of finding common ground despite our differences.
 
Still, we wish that Palin had not invoked the phrase "blood-libel" in reference to the actions of journalists and pundits in placing blame for the shooting in Tucson on others. While the term "blood-libel" has become part of the English parlance to refer to someone being falsely accused, we wish that Palin had used another phrase, instead of one so fraught with pain in Jewish history.” (ADL Press Release)
J Street went further, calling on Palin to retract her statement, (J Street Blog) while a Jewish Telegraphic Agency piece argued that her language undermined her message. “Her video calling for “common ground” set a tone that would have jived perfectly with the unity message President Obama delivered in Tucson later Wednesday, if not for the blood libel remark.” (JTA)
 
The White House declined to comment on the remark. (Washington Post)
 
For more on the meaning and origins of the phrase “blood libel,” check out TIME’s analysis.
 
Performing Same-Sex Marriages
An appeals court in Canada found that an amendment that would allow civil officials to opt out of performing same-sex marriages based on a religious belief would be unconstitutional.
 
“A Saskatchewan court has determined that, regardless of personal religious beliefs, civil commissioners in the province must marry gay couples when asked to do so…The court also found that people who assume roles in public offices are bound to the rules governing those offices."
 
"Persons who voluntarily choose to assume an office, like that of a marriage commissioner, cannot expect to directly shape the office's intersection with the public so as to make it conform with their personal religious or other beliefs," the court wrote in its decision.”” Allowing commissioners to avoid same-sex marriages because of their religious convictions would “violate the equality rights of gay and lesbian individuals.” (Toronto Sun)
 
““The historical marginalization and mistreatment of gay and lesbian individuals is well known,” Mr. Justice Robert Richards wrote on behalf of three of the five judges. “They have been able to recently claim the right to marry only after travelling a very difficult and contentious road,”” reported The Globe and Mail.
 
Nigeria
Tensions continue to boil over in Nigeria during the run-up to the country’s presidential elections:
  • Jos Boils Again (NEXT)
  • Nigeria’s ethno-religious violence and feared split (Afrik-News)
  • Religion and region at play in Nigerian election (Washington Post)
“That vote, pitting President Goodluck Jonathan against former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, highlights the religious and ethnic fault lines still running through the oil-rich nation of 250 ethnicities more than 40 years after its deadly civil war.
 
Those differences still lead to violence and killings even today and this election, challenging the notions of power-sharing in the ruling party, could stoke the flames,” reported the Post.
 
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