Palin Quoted Antisemitic Author in RNC Speech
Sarah Palin scares the Jews! From her crazy Jew-converting church to emails your grandmother is receiving right now, it's clear that America's Jews are nervous about this woman. Just ask Ed Koch! This won't help: remember Palin's address to the Republican National Convention? That bit of speechcraft so inspiring that it is already being taught in schools alongside Dr. King's Dream Speech and Billy Crystal's second Oscars monologue? It turns out one of its few memorable non-Obama-attacking lines was lifted from an old anti-Semite so extreme that he was booted from the John Birch Society.
It is, honestly, a bizarre and inexplicable story. "We grow good people in our small towns," Palin said, quoting someone identified only as a writer, "with honesty and sincerity and dignity." That "writer," Wall Street Journal columnist Thomas Frank notes, is a man named Westbrook Pegler. You have probably never heard of him, but he was a very popular and very right-wing columnist from the first half of the 20th century. How right-wing? He openly wished for the assassination of Franklin Roosevelt, for one.
And for two, he was quite the anti-Semite! He hated Jews so much, the far-right anti-Semitic John Birch Society banned him from their journal. And all Pegler did was claim that American Jews were "instinctively sympathetic to Communism"! And also claim lots of other crazy stuff!
So. Quoting an old anti-Semite is obviously proof of nothing—people still say nice things about Lindbergh, Henry Ford, Walt Disney, and Richard Nixon—but the larger question here is who put those words in her nice speech, where did they find them, and what the hell were they thinking. Like... did they think no one would notice? Who even reads Pegler anymore?
Answer: Pat Buchanan! Buchanan, that lovable old coot, used that same line in a 1990 book. Buchanan, of course, did not mind being associated with a crazy old anti-Semite, and the passage was quoted in a section quite complimentary to the reactionary columnist.
It really does boggle the mind, doesn't it, that they could not find another passage by another writer talking about how nice small towns are, right? Of course the line is question is also about Harry Truman, who was, of course, a Vice President who eventually became president when the guy before him died in office of old age, so really there are a lot of questions we have for the people who composed that terrible speech.
Palin's Source [Ben Smith/Politico]
H/T to Laura Goldman and eejh