Comparative Martyrology

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Perpetual.jpgAnent Sarah Palin’s claim of blood libel and the Washington Timeseditorializing about an “ongoing pogrom against conservative thinkers,” Michael Sean Winters astutely asks, “Why is it that conservatives have a fetish for identifying their so-called ‘persecution’ with the
persecution, the real persecution, without quotation marks, of the Jews?”

The answer, perhaps, is that just as early Christians christened themselves the “true Israel,” so latter-day Christian conservatives like to think of themselves as Jews when they feel persecuted. I guess this is the Judeo-Christian cross we Jews have to bear.

Or maybe not. Winters suggests leaving the Jews out of it and just saying that Palin was thrown to the lions: “Why should Christians be denied a share in the sufferings of Sarah?”

Why indeed? To be sure, the first Christian martyrs did tend to treat their persecutors in the spirit of Jesus’ words on the Cross: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” That’s not exactly the Palinesque approach. Yet the right-wing thirst for victimhood does mirror the  eagerness with which those thrown to the lions embraced their fate. For the “blood” of these “martyrs” is the seed of the conservative movement.