Pete Wehner has rightly called out Sarah Palin for claiming that the US is “becoming a totalitarian surveillance state.” That is not her only mindless and stupid comment of late. She also had this to say Saturday about the terrible conflict in Syria:
I say until we know what we’re doing, until we have a commander in chief who knows what he’s doing, well, let these radical Islamic countries who aren’t even respecting basic human rights, where both sides are slaughtering each other as they scream over an arbitrary red line, ‘Allah Akbar,’ I say until we have someone who knows what they’re doing, I say let Allah sort it out.”
This is both offensive and puzzling. Start with puzzling: She claims that Syrians are fighting over a “red line.” Perhaps she’s confusing it with the Green Line that once divided Christian Beirut from Muslim Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War? In Syria the only “red line” is the imaginary one that Obama drew to discourage Bashar Assad from using chemical weapons.
Now to the offensive: Palin is expressing indifference to the slaughter of more than 90,000 people in Syria because most of them happen to be Muslims. This is merely confirming the worst stereotypes in the Muslim world about the West.
What makes her comment even more appalling is that Palin is echoing, consciously or not, a statement of great inhumanity uttered in the course of Christianity’s internecine wars. The phrase she is alluding to is “Kill them all. God will recognize his own”–supposedly uttered in the 13th century by a French monk accompanying an army of Crusaders who were attacking a town in southern France where a heretical Christian sect known as the Cathars was based. One of the Crusader soldiers asked the monk, Arnaud Amalric, how to sort out Cathars from Catholics. This was the chilling reply he got, at least according to legend. The result was a massacre in which the pope’s army killed at least 20,000 people, including women and children.
Is this a precedent Palin endorses–or thinks is applicable in modern-day Syria? Or–the charitable explanation–is she simply mindlessly nattering on without knowing what she is talking about?