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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