Sarah Palin invokes slavery, inappropriately of course

November 15, 2013
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Friends of the Family Banquet in Des Moines, Iowa, Nov. 9. (Justin Hayworth/Associated Press)
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin in Iowa last week. (Justin Hayworth/Associated Press)

I know I should ignore her in the hopes she’ll go away, but Sarah Palin deserves every disapprobation her idiotic utterances elicit. Her holding forth on the “liberalism” of Pope Francis and the “extreme” appearance of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during an interview on CNN was astonishing. But I completely skipped over what the half-term former governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, whose allergy to deep thinking is well-known, had to say about slavery.

Republicans invoke slavery for all sorts of things that don’t come anywhere close to matching the evil it represented. So Palin’s use of the word to describe the federal debt during a speech in Iowa a week ago wasn’t all that shocking.

Our free stuff today is being paid for today by taking money from our children and borrowing from China. When that money comes due and, this isn’t racist, so try it, try it anyway, this isn’t racist, but it’s going to be like slavery when that note is due. Right? We are going to be beholden to a foreign master.

The “this isn’t racist” part always gets me. Like the declaration is some blast shield against being branded a bigot. “Don’t be so sensitive” and “some of my best friends” are of this ilk. But I’ll move on.

What I found more intriguing was Palin’s explanation of why she used the word slavery in the first place when asked about it by Jake Tapper. Now, I hope your brain is limber ’cause you’re going to need it.

TAPPER: Don’t you ever fear that by using hyperbole like that — obviously, you don’t literally mean it’s like slavery, which cost millions of people their lives and there was rape and torture. You’re using it as a metaphor. But don’t you ever worry that by using that kind of language, you — you risk obscuring the point you’re trying to make?

PALIN: There is another definition of slavery and that is being beholden to some kind of master that is not of your choosing. And, yes, the national debt will be like slavery when the note comes due.

TAPPER: So you’re not — you’re not work — I mean I’m — I’m taking it as a no, but you’re not — you’re not concerned about the language –

PALIN: I’m not one to be politically correct, evidently.

TAPPER: OK.

PALIN: And, no, I don’t — I don’t worry about things like that, because no matter what I say, no matter what a lot of conservatives say, they’re, you know, they’ll be targeted and distractions will be attempted to be made to take the listener and the viewers’ mind off what the point is, by pointing out, oh, she said the word slavery in a speech, and, I did say the word slavery, because I want to make a point.

TAPPER: You can understand why African Americans or others might be offended by it, though?

PALIN: I — I can if they choose to misinterpret what it is that I’m saying. And, again, you know, I’m sure if we open up the dictionary, we could prove that with semantics that are various, we can prove that there is a definition of slavery that absolutely fits the bill there, when I’m talking about a bankrupt country that will owe somebody something down the line if we don’t change things that is, we will be shackled. We will be enslaved to those who we owe.

“There is another definition of slavery”? “If they choose to misinterpret what it is that I’m saying”? Seriously? No, seriously?! Not only is Palin not “politically correct,” she’s not correct. The definition of slavery that Palin said she was using — “that is being beholden to some kind of master that is not of your choosing” — sounds an awful lot like straight up slavery, especially since slaves by definition have no say or choice to whom they are beholden.

Even though the deficit shrank 37 percent in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, Palin’s concern about the nation’s debt and deficit isn’t unwarranted. But not since Herman Cain tried to explain “9-9-9” have I heard such gibberish employed to justify something so dumb.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.
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