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Refudiating Sarah Palin

I know this is ancient history already, but I’ve been meaning to comment on it for days and more important stuff got in the way. I promise this isn’t as unimportant as it will seem at first.

So all the way back at the beginning of last week, Sarah Palin sent out a tweet regarding the plans to build an Islamic mosque a few blocks from Ground Zero:

Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate

Totally ignoring the substance of what she was saying, the Twitterverse apparently responded with resounding laughter over the completely made-up word “refudiate”. Palin then responded with another tweet trying to mitigate the damage from the first:

Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real

Seeing as how “refute” makes no sense in that context, that didn’t really help. Finally she offered up this gem:

“Refudiate”, “misunderestimate,” “wee-wee’d up.” English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!

Immediately all of the focus shifted to the absurdity of Palin comparing herself to Shakespeare (not to mention the choice of “wee-wee’d up” as an example of a great new word). That is indeed hilarious, but it’s not the real issue. I’m going to give her a pass on the surface and condemn her on the substance.

For one thing, “Refudiate” is actually a great word. It even applies to what I’m doing in this blog post. It’s a combination of “refute” and “repudiate”—two things that often go together. So I will refute the idea behind Palin’s original tweet and repudiate her for saying it—thus refudiating her.

Here’s the thing: Why would a mosque a couple of blocks from Ground Zero “stab” any reasonable person “in the heart”? The tacit claim made in this statement is that the same people behind the 9/11 attacks are the people who want to build a mosque near Ground Zero—that all Muslims are guilty of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Refutation: Not true at all. Are all Christians guilty of every crime ever committed by Christians throughout history? I didn’t think so. Are all Tea Partiers guilty of racism because some of them hold racist signs? I didn’t think so. So how can you claim that all Muslims are guilty of what a small segment of radicalized, violent Muslims decided to do? If an entire group of people bears full responsibility for what a small segment of that group does, then the whole Tea Party is racist and all Christians have a lot of blood on their hands.

Repudiation: Shame on you, Sarah. You’re contributing to the already massive level of intolerance on the part of Americans towards Muslims. By equating the word “Muslim” with “Terrorist” you’re inviting further violence against Muslims, and possibly even an attack on the mosque they’re building near Ground Zero—which, incidentally, will be home to a perfectly mainstream, peaceful branch of Islam that would no doubt condemn the actions of the 9/11 terrorists, as would the vast majority of all Muslims around the world. What you said is divisive and ignorant and you owe all Muslims an apology.

But thanks for the great new word! Now whenever someone says something both factually and morally wrong, we can refute and repudiate them at the same time! Refudiation! Got to celebrate it!

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