In the weeks following the horrific Tuscon, Arizona shootings of January 2011 that left six dead and 19 wounded, including Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, most Americans called for less divisive rhetoric in what had become an extremely heated socio-political discourse.
Some looked at Sarah Palin's Super PAC website -- which had posted Giffords' district in the crosshairs of a rifle scope with a tag line -- "Don't Retreat! Reload!" -- as evidence there was a misguided encouragement of right-wing, insurrection and violence coming directly from elected officials and political operatives.
As Stephen Colbert famously explained, the horrible circumstances of that day led many to hope, "Sarah Palin will, at long last, shut up for ten f**king minutes."
It was not to be.
Palin went on the defensive: accusing the "lamestream media" of waging a "blood libel" campaign against her.
Misguided? Yes. But, as she likely anticipated, the statement effectively kept her name in the headlines for another news cycle.
As the 2012 election takes shape, Palin is at it again: using her political celebrity to make outrageous claims, and draw attention to what appears to be prevailing ignorance, but reveals itself as a staggering genius to make money and fuel her own vanity.
Last week, the former, half-term governor and failed VP candidate, accused President Barack Obama of taking the nation backwards to days "before the Civil War". In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Palin claimed "what Barack Obama seems to want to do is take us back to those days when we were in different classes based on income... based on color of skin."
It has been awhile since anyone took Palin seriously as a presidential nominee. The TLC reality show, lackluster bus tour and failure to establish intellectual credibility on matters of foreign or domestic policy, led most Americans to the correct conclusion Sarah was purely in it for the money. Of course that truth didn't stop loyal, committed fans, many of whom are honest American conservatives -- albeit naïve -- from giving handily to Sarah PAC.
Much like a corrupt televangelist, Palin continued to rally and inspire at organized Tea Party events; raising cash for her political action committee, while accepting speaking fees upwards of $100,000.
Just as Palin appealed to women voters during the 2008 campaign by using an indelible charm, she has now learned to manipulate the economic malaise caused by the Bush-Cheney economy, perfecting the momma grizzly shtick, and misinforming the electorate about "Obamacare", stirring up old prejudices and inciting anti-Obama sentiment.
That line of work, of course, has been lucrative and she's been at it for even longer than she was Governor of Alaska; three whole years, in fact.
But Palin is a symptom, rather than the disease.
GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum claims he doesn't want to make "blah" people's lives better "by giving them other people's money", and former Speaker Newt Gingrich incites old racial stereotypes by suggesting "President Obama is the greatest food stamp president": Sarah Palin has simply joined the race-baiting club. She boldly suggests the nation's first African-American president would prefer a country reflective of an antebellum American South: a society in which blacks were bought and sold in chains, counted three-fifths of a person, and broke their backs and wills working in cotton fields for no pay.
Silly Sarah, can you possibly believe that's what President Obama wants? Or are you, like Rush Limbaugh, willing to say anything for money and fame? No matter how vile or destructive?
The nation rightly called into question Limbaugh's recent verbal attacks on women; now it is time to shed light on Palin's subversive attacks on African Americans.
The former governor blatantly disrespects the president, using racially coded tales; and by doing so denigrates the Office of the Presidency as well as the long, tortured history of slavery and racial discrimination against black people in this America she claims to know "by heart."
In her interview with Sean Hannity last week, Palin went further by making an outrageous claim that late Harvard Professor Derrick Bell's call for greater diversity on the Ivy League campus amounted to racism.
Of course she did no research to discover Bell was the first tenured African-American law professor at Harvard - and so failed to understand there was little to no diversity when he arrived in 1969, just one year following Martin Luther King's assassination. Instead Palin suggested Bell believed "white men oppressed blacks". The factual evidence of the latter aside, Palin ignored all historical contexts, and pandered to a Republican far-right base, by asserting Obama's association with Bell -- as student and professor -- made him guilty of "racism".
The ignorance is baffling, especially when one considers Palin is being paid to spew this unique form of propaganda as fact. Hers is a dangerous fallacy, sold to a misinformed, undereducated and increasingly impoverished poor, white America -- especially in the South and Midwest -- who are prone to believe her lies.
These tactics have been successfully employed by the GOP for years, creating a Republican Party defined by its resentment of America's changing demographics and the African-American president currently occupying the Oval Office. The fact that Fox News executives, producers and millions of conservatives don't see anything wrong with Palin's race-baiting only proves this nation has so much further to go before it is truly "post-racial."
But the more important narrative here is that Palin has become emblematic of the new Republican Party -- and though she isn't running for office -- she continues to influence the message used by the likes of Michele Bachmann, Santorum and even Gingrich and Romney. Her appeal to base supporters generates a powerful movement that, if managed correctly, can deliver political power and electoral success. It was already proven in November 2010.
Perhaps now the most we can hope for is that reasonable-minded republicans, independents and democrats alike, will vote for a Democratic platform which is "post-Palin."
Her ignorance is powerfully deafening, and should be silenced.
Follow Edward Wyckoff Williams on Twitter: www.twitter.com/wyckoffwilliams