I'm not making this up.
Columnist* Cynthia Tucker called for Palin to be assassinated yesterday.
But to understand what I mean by this, I need to tell you a little story.
Once upon a time, in the twelfth century, there was a king of England, Henry, Second of that name.
He was a strong believer (like a certain other Henry who succeeded him centuries later) that the Universal Church was, or should be, entirely a creature of the Crown of England and not an independent entity.
To secure this, he decided to make his boon companion Tom the Archbishop of Canturbury. Tom was a party boy, a good man to hounds, the kind of guy who was comfortable going out and getting drunk with the King.
King Henry thought that, as such, Tom was a weakwilled putz and would be an excellent tool in his own hands to bring the Church to heel.
Tom, upon becoming Archbishop, had an experience that some would call "being born again." Certainly, he underwent a profound religious conversion, undergoing a deep transformation of his personal life. He quit riding to hounds. He gave away his wealth. He became more than regular, no, fanatical, about observance of his daily Mass. And so on.
And he became ferocious in defending the independence of the Church.
Now, at the time, the Catholic Church in England was highly privileged. In particular, Catholic priests accused of crimes had a right to be tried, not in the King's courts, but in the courts of the Church--supposedly to prevent a prejudiced and anti-clerical populace from finding against priests out of spite.
(In today's atmosphere of bigotry against the Church because of the terrible sexual misdeeds of a few boy-molesting priests, this outlook likely does not obtain much in the way of public sympathy, but never mind.)
In any case, this became a very sore point between Harry and Tom: the King wanted to bring corrupt priests to justice in HIS courts. Tom found this unacceptable; this was the source of what one writer has called "degenerative schismogenesis"--i.e., nothing either said or did could keep the other from suspecting them the more as each looked at everything the other did with the darkest suspicion, convinced the other was out to destroy him.
As time went on and as he aged insecure on his throne, Henry II decided to do something unprecedented: his eldest son, also named Henry, needed to be crowned King even while Henry II was still living. This took place, and Henry became known as "The Young King" (although he died before Henry II and therefore wasn't later recognized as a real king; Henry III is a different individual altogether).
Well, the problem is that The Young King Henry was crowned by the Archbishop of York--and not by the Archbishop of Canturbury, whose ancient privilege it was to crown the King. Tom, being the Archbishop of Canturbury, took a very dim view of all this. So he excommunicated the Archbishop of York and all those others who crowned the Young King and drove them from England to France.
These lesser clerics then fled to Henry II in France and told him of this. In response to this, he famously cried out:
"Will Nobody Rid Me Of This Troublesome Priest?"
In response to this, four knights, standing nearby, interpreted this as a command, and went and hacked the Archbishop to pieces in the middle of Mass.
The wicked knight leapt suddenly upon him, cutting off the top of the crown which the unction of sacred chrism had dedicated to God. Next he received a second blow on the head, but still he stood firm and immovable. At the third blow he fell on his knees and elbows, offering himself a living sacrifice, and saying in a low voice, 'For the name of Jesus and the protection of the Church, I am ready to embrace death.' But the third knight inflicted a terrible wound as he lay prostrate. By this stroke, the crown of his head was separated from the head in such a way that the blood white with the brain, and the brain no less red from the blood, dyed the floor of the cathedral. The same clerk who had entered with the knights placed his foot on the neck of the holy priest and precious martyr, and, horrible to relate, scattered the brains and blood about the pavements, crying to the others, 'Let us away, knights; this fellow will arise no more.
Tom the Boon Companion of the King became thereafter known as Saint Thomas Becket**, a Martyr of the Faith, canonized by the Pope only four years after his death.
His memory was so strong in England that Henry VIII, who also wanted a lapdog Church, ordered his shrine destroyed and his bones scattered in the 1530s.
And ever since then, the phrase "Will Nobody Rid Me Of This Troublesome Priest" has been a code phrase, a call for murder.
That said: Can anybody read the headline of this article without a cold chill?
CYNTHIA TUCKER: GOP: Will no one rid us of this troublesome Palin?
There are no doubt those who think that this is too obscure a reference and that Cynthia Tucker doesn't know what she says. I say, nonsense. To assume that she doesn't know this famous tale is to engage in the soft bigotry of low expectations--I don't think she doesn't know this just because she's black. IOW, yes, I am sure that Cynthia Tucker and her editors and factcheckers know exactly what the phrase means and I hold her fully responsible for them if Sarah should come to harm.
Christ protect Sarah and her family. She has already survived one assassination attempt when someone burned down her occupied church in Wasilla. We live in dark days.
* CORRECTION (and a biggie): Not "Ex-Congresswoman; I had her, a Georgia columnist mixed up with the execrable Georgia Congresscritter Cynthia McKinney who is fully capable of making such statements, but didn't (on this occasion at least).
**Not "Thomas à Becket"; that was a later corruption of his name.