Strange bedfellows indeed

What Sarah Palin said during her convention speech about the "honesty and sincerity and dignity" of small-town people is a quote from a notorious anti-Semite.


Vincent Rossmeier
September 11, 2008 12:35AM (UTC)

Remember when Sarah Palin said, "We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty and sincerity and dignity," during her speech at the Republican convention last week? Well, it seems that quote wasn't just the Norman Rockwell-infused nostalgic musings of a Republican speechwriter.

The source of that quotation, as Tom Frank pointed out in an article in the Wall Street Journal, is actually notorious right-wing columnist Westbrook Pegler.

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Pegler died in 1969, but not before compiling a less than illustrious résumé. A staunch anti-communist, by the end of his life, he'd adopted some extreme and racist positions. He grew to hate Franklin Roosevelt and even said that he regretted a would-be assassin of FDR had "hit the wrong man."

Then there's Pegler's staunch anti-Semitism, what Philip Roth called Pegler's "casual distaste for Jews." After being fired as a columnist by the Hearst family, Pegler wrote briefly for the far-right-wing John Birch Society, but according to the Politico's Ben Smith, Pegler was too anti-Semitic even for the Birchers. By the end of his life, Pegler was opining that it was "clearly the bounden duty of all intelligent Americans to proclaim and practice bigotry."

Of course, none of this is to suggest that Palin agrees with Pegler's more controversial positions. But it is odd that she would quote someone like Pegler in the age of the Google.


Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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