Sarah Palin to racist DJ: “Don’t retreat . . . reload!”

Palin’s shocking defence of US DJ Laura Schlessinger, who quit after racist slurs.

Sarah Palin has shocked and angered many in recent weeks with her bigoted opposition to the so-called Ground Zero mosque, but her views have just taken an even more sinister turn.

Palin took to Twitter last night to launch an extraordinary defence of the DJ Laura Schlessinger, who quit her talk show this week after using the N-word on the air 11 times in five minutes. In an exchange with an African-American caller married to a white man, she told the woman that she shouldn't take offence at racial taunts, even if they contained the word "nigger".

"Black guys use it all the time," she said. "Turn on HBO, listen to a black comic, and all you hear is 'nigger, nigger, nigger'. I don't get it. If anybody without enough melanin says it, it's a horrible thing; but when black people say it, it's affectionate."

After a shocked response from the caller, she added: "I'll say it again: nigger, nigger nigger . . . If you're that hypersensitive about colour, and don't have a sense of humour, then don't marry out of your race."

Schlessinger subsequently apologised for the comments and quit her show a few days later. But Palin, for one, is urging Schlessinger not to "back down".

Last night she tweeted:

Palin

As usual, one struggles to decipher Palin's semi-literate prose, but there's something immediately disturbing about the words "don't retreat . . . reload!". The gun analogy alone is rather unfortunate, but does Palin really think besides that Schlessinger should throw a few more racist taunts around? Apparently she does.

Then there's her complete misunderstanding of the First Amendment. That Schlessinger has a right to free speech does not mean that she has an inalienable right to broadcast her racist views on national radio. She was not "censored" in any sense of the word: the (correct) decision to resign was entirely voluntary.

But, as if to avoid any suspicion that she "misspoke", Palin tweeted:

Dr.Laura=even more powerful & effective w/out the shackles, so watch out Constitutional obstructionists. And b thankful 4 her voice,America!

Will Palin's many admirers on the British right now finally disown her? Let's wait and see.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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Jeremy Corbyn sat down on train he claimed was full, Virgin says

The train company has pushed back against a viral video starring the Labour leader, in which he sat on the floor.

Seats were available on the train where Jeremy Corbyn was filmed sitting on the floor, Virgin Trains has said.

On 16 August, a freelance film-maker who has been following the Labour leader released a video which showed Corbyn talking about the problems of overcrowded trains.

“This is a problem that many passengers face every day, commuters and long-distance travellers. Today this train is completely ram-packed,” he said. Is it fair that I should upgrade my ticket whilst others who might not be able to afford such a luxury should have to sit on the floor? It’s their money I would be spending after all.”

Commentators quickly pointed out that he would not have been able to claim for a first-class upgrade, as expenses rules only permit standard-class travel. Also, campaign expenses cannot be claimed back from the taxpayer. 

Today, Virgin Trains released footage of the Labour leader walking past empty unreserved seats to film his video, which took half an hour, before walking back to take another unreserved seat.

"CCTV footage taken from the train on August 11 shows Mr Corbyn and his team walked past empty, unreserved seats in coach H before walking through the rest of the train to the far end, where his team sat on the floor and started filming.

"The same footage then shows Mr Corbyn returning to coach H and taking a seat there, with the help of the onboard crew, around 45 minutes into the journey and over two hours before the train reached Newcastle.

"Mr Corbyn’s team carried out their filming around 30 minutes into the journey. There were also additional empty seats on the train (the 11am departure from King’s Cross) which appear from CCTV to have been reserved but not taken, so they were also available for other passengers to sit on."

A Virgin spokesperson commented: “We have to take issue with the idea that Mr Corbyn wasn’t able to be seated on the service, as this clearly wasn’t the case.

A spokesman for the Corbyn campaign told BuzzFeed News that the footage was a “lie”, and that Corbyn had given up his seat for a woman to take his place, and that “other people” had also sat in the aisles.

Owen Smith, Corbyn's leadership rival, tried a joke:

But a passenger on the train supported Corbyn's version of events.

Both Virgin Trains and the Corbyn campaign have been contacted for further comment.

UPDATE 17:07

A spokesperson for the Jeremy for Labour campaign commented:

“When Jeremy boarded the train he was unable to find unreserved seats, so he sat with other passengers in the corridor who were also unable to find a seat. 

"Later in the journey, seats became available after a family were upgraded to first class, and Jeremy and the team he was travelling with were offered the seats by a very helpful member of staff.

"Passengers across Britain will have been in similar situations on overcrowded, expensive trains. That is why our policy to bring the trains back into public ownership, as part of a plan to rebuild and transform Britain, is so popular with passengers and rail workers.”

A few testimonies from passengers who had their photos taken with Corbyn on the floor can be found here