Conservative media circles the wagons on the Holocaust and gun control

Last week closed on a low note, with Ben Carson taking a good hard look at the Holocaust and deciding that it probably wouldn’t have happened if Hitler hadn’t taken the Jews’ guns. And telling the Anti-Defamation League that it was “foolishness” to think otherwise.

This idea is unambiguously wrong, and many were quick to tell Carson so. And, as it tends to happen when one of their own is unambiguously wrong, the conservative media spent the rest of the weekend trying to “actually” some ambiguity into the discussion. Here’s a quick collection of headlines from major conservative outlets:

Ben Carson, screenshot via YouTube

Ben Carson, screenshot via YouTube

The National Review: Ben Carson is Half-Right About Guns and the Holocaust.

The Federalist: Ben Carson is Right about Nazi Gun Control.

Breitbart: Ben Carson is Right: Yes, Jews Should Have Had Guns in the Holocaust.

These posts are all variations on the same theme. The Nazis took away the Jews’ guns, and then they killed a bunch of Jews. Correlation, causation, game, set, match. Never mind the fact that the Nazis killed a whole bunch of people who kept their guns, including many Jews who fought back; if Germany had let the Jews arm themselves, their massive standing army would have meant nothing against the well-regulated militia the Jews would have formed.

Fox’s Dr. Keith Ablow went even further in writing by far the worst take on the Internet for this and perhaps any other weekend. In his telling, the Holocaust was actually the fault of the Jews themselves. You see, they didn’t just surrender their guns when Hitler asked for them, they surrendered their souls:

The mindset that Jews surrendered with their guns is far more important than the hardware they turned over:  They surrendered the demonstrated intention, at all costs, to resist being deprived of liberty.  If Jews in Germany had more actively resisted the Nazi party or the Nazi regime and had diagnosed it as a malignant and deadly cancer from the start, there would, indeed, have been a chance for the people of that country and the world to be moved to action by their bold refusal to be enslaved.

This is only a few steps away from Carson’s advice for mass shootings: Just fight back! Why aren’t you fighting back? Maybe if you fought back, you wouldn’t be dead — why didn’t you think of that?

It’s hard to find an analogous case of a Democratic presidential candidate — let alone one that’s in second place in national primary polling — saying something as wrong and appalling as the Jews being responsible for their own deaths in the Holocaust. But I’d hazard a guess that if something like that happened, we wouldn’t see Salon come to their defense. Liberal outlets would either ignore the episode, or they’d join in the feeding frenzy with a few versions of “Wow, this is pretty bad.” No one would seriously make the argument that, actually, that thing Joe Biden said that was unspeakably awful was in fact correct.

For better or worse, and apparently unlike the National Reviews of the world, we like being right more than we like winning.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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25 Responses to “Conservative media circles the wagons on the Holocaust and gun control”

  1. BeccaM says:

    To use two examples the wingnuts ought to be familiar with, since they obsessed over them for decades: Waco and Ruby Ridge.

    Nobody can argue the people at those places didn’t have lots of guns. They had great big arsenals of firearms and all kinds of armaments. They even had fortifications.

    As is always the case, the Powers That Be — whatever one thinks of their motives or morality — simply bring enough resources to overwhelm whatever they estimate the resistance will be. Those who aren’t arrested end up dead. It was no different in Germany.

  2. nicho says:

    Saddam’s sons Uday and Qusay had more guns than anyone could hope for. Here’s what good it did them:

    An informant’s tip led U.S. Special Forces to a house in which they were both staying on July 22, 2003. After drawing fire, the soldiers withdrew, until receiving backup in the form of 100 troops from the 101st Airborne division, Apache helicopters, and an A-10 gunship. A battle ensued, after which Americans entered the house and found the bodies of the two brothers, as well as that of Qusay’s 14-year-old son.

    Maybe if they just had a few more guns…….

  3. Outspoken1 says:

    Actually, at the start of the German invasion into their ‘ally’ the Soviet Union, the soldiers were poorly trained and hardly equipped at all. http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/8-things-you-should-know-about-wwiis-eastern-front As their numbers, equipment and experience grew, they also resorted to savagery, rape and pillage to those who had survived the German invasion and then retreat. Not arguing any of your points – just adding facts about the Soviet Army.

    BTW, my mother was a native of France and survived the Nazi occupation. She passed last year in April. Didn’t feel too bad on Mother’s Day; Memorial Day was OK, D-Day was the killer because we talked about D-Day every year. She and her parents listened to the invasion on the BBC using a clandestine radio kept in a coffee can in the farmer’s milking shed. They would have been shot if the radio had been found. She told us about the Jews being rounded up in her town (Nancy), but they were told they were going to work camps – not the real story of the death camps, which the French would not find out about until the Soviets liberated the first camps in Poland. Then the news films came to the theaters (no TV at the time) and they learned where the Jews really went. The Germans in Nancy allowed the Jews to give their children away at the RR station. Strangers were taking the children and whisking them quickly away. My Mom was 11-12 years old at the time. Oh yeah, personal guns do not stop a professional army – ever!

  4. BeccaM says:

    If you have a knife, they (the cops and other gov’t forces) will bring guns. If you have guns, they will bring tear gas, dogs, sniper and assault rifles. if you have assault rifles, they will bring grenades and machine guns. If you have grenades and machine guns, they will bomb you from whatever distance they need to feel safe from your resistance.

    Germany’s gun bans, when they imposed them, were highly selective and ethnically-targeted. Those who resisted were arrested (if they were lucky and weren’t just killed on the spot).

    For some reason, these wingnuts seem to think, “I have a gun. Therefore they can’t do anything to me.” That’s not how it works. If having guns helped, we’d see events go down more like this:
    “So, Officer Krupke, why did you let the suspect get away?”
    “I saw him reach for his waistband and concluded he might be armed. So I had no choice but to withdraw.”

    Um, no. Obviously that’s not how it goes down at all, especially if the suspect in question isn’t white.

    America’s current crop of crazies — including Carson and Ablow — also seems to like to gloss over their own party’s history regarding Nazi Germany.

    Their ideological ancestors — far right fascist-sympathizing conservative Republicans — were the precisely the ones who said that Adolph fellow had a point regarding Jewish people and who vehemently opposed America’s entrance into WW2. In 1941, support for the Lend-Lease program fell closely along party lines, with Democrats overwhelmingly in favor, but Republicans against it. They were also the ones who didn’t want to let European Jews resettle in America. Before that, in the 1930s, guess who were the strongest isolationists and proponents of the Neutrality Acts? Republicans…and conservative southern Democrats. What a surprise.

  5. JaneE says:

    I know a Carson supporter. They just like him, but can’t really state a reason. The local GOP did a survey at the county fair, and over a third were supporting Carson.

    We usually avoid politics in the car pool, but our avid Democrat mentioned Carson after he had been on the news. I don’t know if the Carson supporter was angry because Carson had said something that looked ignorant, or if they were angry because they were themselves ignorant of the issue (debt ceiling), or if they were angry just because we weren’t GOP supporters.

  6. JaneE says:

    If all the Jews had died fighting instead of in the camps, you would still say that they brought it on themselves. Only then the rationale would be that they should not have tried to fight back against the overwhelming force of the state.

    Just surviving was an act of resistance to the Nazis.

  7. MoonDragon says:

    In David Grossman’s “On Killing”, the author sites a good bit of evidence that prior to the Vietnam police action, only about 10% of troops fired for effect (based on battlefield archaeology and other records). Of the remainder, when they did fire for effect, they suffered serious adverse affects (depression, anxiety, flashbacks). It seems interesting that there was an uptick in PTSD (shell shock, combat fatigue) starting with Vietnam, the first conflict for which new methods of conditioning improved the effective fire rate.

  8. Gindy51 says:

    SO if the Jews had more guns they’d have been able to beat the Nazis, unlike the Communists who had more guns? What? Did any of these fools bother to research one of the bigger the reasons Hitler rose to power in the first place? He promised to kick the shit out of the commies with his brown shirts and he did. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/modern-world-history-1918-to-1980/weimar-germany/the-communist-party-and-weimar-germany/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Party_of_Germany

  9. Don Chandler says:

    If you do it right, you can throw on your brakes at the last moment causing a frightening screech before a hard thump on the bumper and then claim you didn’t see them and at the same time give them a healthy dose of whiplash to bring them out of their Carson Stupor.

  10. Doug105 says:

    I know a someone on SCOTUS that would agree.

  11. emjayay says:

    Most of what the doctor says is so unrelated to reality it is kind of pointless to make any specific reality based arguments about any of it.

  12. emjayay says:

    It’s more than a decline. Obviously, both parties evolved into something almost completely unrelated to a hundred and fifty years ago, and it is a different world as well. The Republican party was also brand new, and had adolescence and adulthood and now senility to go through.

  13. emjayay says:

    Back then I saw a bumper sticker with the twin towers wrapped in the stars and stripes. The caption was “They Started It.” Don’t remember if it also said Win in Iraq or at least Support Our Troops or anything, but the meaning was obvious. Can’t find it on Google Images.

  14. keirmeister says:

    Also, “fighting back” may be a bit difficult if you’re trying to protect the rest of your family.

    Hmm, let’s see…my wife was killed, my children are traumatized, but I’m going to pick up a weapon, seek out, and destroy the enemy. Now, if only I can find a babysitter….

  15. emjayay says:

    I saw one, on a faded fifteen or so year old Toyota Corolla driven by a little shrunken old couple.

  16. Indigo says:

    Between the Two Clowns (the Donald and Dr. Ben), the Republican party has dropped its pants in public, defecated and puked all over traditionally reputable issues, and established that it has no coherent policy to advance. It’s sad, in a way, but let’s not allow nostalgia for the Party of Lincoln and Eisenhower blind us to the willful self-destruction of today’s GOP. It’s not too soon to write their obituary.

  17. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Did you have a desire to slam into those bumpers?

  18. nicho says:

    In the past week, I’ve seen two vehicles with “Carson 2016” bumper stickers. Part of me wanted to approach them and try to find out what made them Carson supporters. Then, the realistic part of me decided I didn’t really want to know.

  19. nicho says:

    Even among troops, they first have to be conditioned that “the enemy” is less than human. So, for recruits, “the enemy” becomes “gooks”, “ragheads,” “sand monkeys,” “jihadis,” anything but human beings. And that conditioning is relentless. Then, there is also the idea that has to be implanted that they are fighting for some greater cause. I remember clearly, some grunt in Iraq being interviewed on TV. He opened his locker and showed a photo of the WTC on 9-11 — to remind him of why he was killing Iraqis.

  20. therling says:

    How might the Germans have reacted to armed resistance? Let’s look at what happened to the Soviet Army. The Germans were able to capture some 6 million Soviet troops, of whom some 3 million were systematically starved to death in captivity. Those were trained, relatively well-equipped soldiers. To expect that a disorganized group, with nothing more than small arms, could have effectively resisted and prevented the Holocaust is nonsense.

    Even when Jews did actively resist, for example, in the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising, Waffen-SS troops were sent in and the result was the complete destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto.

  21. MoonDragon says:

    Whenever people talk about fighting back, they never consider that, for whatever reason, most people don’t seem to be hard wired to ham others (in fact there is some speculation that the empathy we feel towards others that makes harming them painful to ourselves is what has allowed the development of civilization). This puts most people at a disadvantage against people without empathy (sociopathic criminals) or those who have been conditioned to resist it (well conditioned troops). There was a successful resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto against garrison troops (non-combat bureaucrats with guns). It fell apart when combat troops were deployed.

  22. The_Fixer says:

    Unofficial motto of the Republican party: “History is for the Changin’.”

    Any historian will tell you that this is a bunch of crap. First came the dictator telling people what they wanted to hear – making big promises, promising a new economy, and appeals to nationalism – then came the disarming. After they already had started rounding up the Jews.

    These idiots don’t want to admit that it wasn’t an unpopular army doing this to the Jews, it was an entire country, save for a few brave souls that helped a few Jews escape.

    These people need to be called out on this citing fact – you know, real history, not the made-up kind that supports your lies.

  23. goulo says:

    Perhaps next, Fox’s Dr. Keith Ablow can explain how slavery in the US came about by the Africans who surrendered their mindset to resist being deprived of liberty. If only the slaves would have more actively resisted, the world would have been moved to action.

    I wonder if Ben Carson would agree or disagree…

  24. Baal says:

    One thing that needs to be pointed out is the role of the Nazi’s armed private militia, the SA, in their rise to power. That is what I see when the GOP hard right base (Oath Keepers and such) start parading around with their giant external death penises with large magazines.

    These fools really might want to start with William Shirer.

  25. 2karmanot says:

    This embedded anti-Semitic and blatantly racist tripe has become part of the GOP DNA. What a precipitous decline from the days of Lincoln. These imbecilic tropes coming from Republican morons is one thing but coming from a black man of Carson’s former prominence is truly sickening.

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