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Sarah Palin’s favorite anti-Semite

by Brad A. Greenberg

September 11, 2008 | 2:40 pm

As if being a gun-toting Christian who supported Pat Buchanan’s 2000 presidential race wasn’t enough for Sarah Palin to give many American Jews the heebie jeebies, she’s now got the creds to pitch them it fully hysteria. It turns out that a portion of Palin’s speech at the Republican National Convention was cribbed, with unidentified credit, from an early 20th century right-wing anti-Semite, Westbrook Pegler.

Thomas Frank explains in the Wall Street Journal.

“We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty and sincerity and dignity,” the vice-presidential candidate said, quoting an anonymous “writer,” which is to say, Pegler, who must have penned that mellifluous line when not writing his more controversial stuff. As the New York Times pointed out in its obituary of him in 1969, Pegler once lamented that a would-be assassin “hit the wrong man” when gunning for Franklin Roosevelt.

There’s no evidence that Mrs. Palin shares the trademark Pegler bloodlust—except maybe when it comes to moose and wolves. Nevertheless, the red-state myth that Mrs. Palin reiterated for her adoring audience owes far more to the venomous spirit of Pegler than it does to Norman Rockwell.

Turns out Pegler was such a nut that even the John Birch Society considered itself to sober-minded.

“So,” Gawker states. “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.”

Suddenly, Barack Obama doesn’t have a Jewish problem.

(Thanks, Rachel, for sending the link.)

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