By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 18, 2011; 8:59 AM
Sarah Palin called on all Americans to engage in more civil political debate in the wake of the Tucson shooting but, in an interview on Fox News on Monday, said she would not be silenced or deterred by criticism from her opponents.
Palin also said she had not decided whether to run for president in 2012 and would make an announcement about her future at a later time.
"I am not going to sit down, I'm not going to shut up," the former Alaska governor said in her first interview since the Tucson shootings that killed six people, left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in critical condition and wounded 12 others.
Palin added, "It's our right to vigorously yet respectfully debate ideas and intentions in this country. I'm going to continue down that path. And if that leads to be a candidate for a high office, then I will announce that at the appropriate time."
In the hours after the shootings, Palin was attacked by critics mostly on the left, who cited her posting of a map with crosshairs on congressional districts of 20 Democrats she was urging followers to defeat last November. Among those listed was Giffords, who criticized Palin at the time.
When Palin posted a video Wednesday defending herself, she came under further criticism for using the term "blood libel" to describe the actions of those who were attacking her and other conservatives.
On Monday, appearing on "The Sean Hannity Show," Palin said she knew the historical roots of the term "blood libel" as an expression to describe accusations that Jews used the blood of slain Christian children in their rituals. She added that the expression was more commonly used to mean falsely accusing someone or some group of people of "having blood on your hands. And in this case that's exactly what was going on."
She said her video was not self-defense but rather "defending those who are innocent, talk show hosts, talk show host listeners, those who have nothing to do with a crazed, evil gunman who killed innocent people."
A Palin adviser earlier said the symbols on the Palin map were those that surveyors might use. On Monday, Palin called them "crosshairs" but said Democrats had used similar symbols on political targeting maps as well.
Palin complimented President Obama for the speech he delivered at a memorial service in Tucson last Wednesday. "I thought that there were parts of it that really hit home, that all of us can hold onto and can - and can live out, obviously," she said
At the same time, she said she found parts of the event "a bit bizarre," at times more like a pep rally or campaign rally that did "distract away from the message."
Palin said she will continue to speak out to prevent what she called lies from damaging her politically. "Because if a lie does live, then, of course, your career is over, your reputation is thrashed and you will be ineffective in what it is that you are trying to do," she said.
But she also said she would fight to make sure others like her would be able to make their views known. "They're not going to shut you up," she told Hannity, "or Rush [Limbaugh] or Mark Levin or tea party patriots or those who, as I say, respectfully and patriotically petition their government for change. They can't make us sit down and shut up. And if they ever were to succeed in doing that, then our republic will be destroyed."