“Were the Jews responsible for their own deaths in the Holocaust?” is now a serious question in the Republican primary

It’s not just Ben Carson anymore. Yesterday, Fox News contributor and Gun Owners of America head Larry Pratt went on the radio with Alan Colmes to talk about the idea that gun control is bad because Hitler did it.

When asked by Colmes if he agreed with Carson’s remarks, Pratt responded by saying, “Had the Jews had really good amounts of armament, they could have given the Nazis a real headache for a prolonged period of time, and in fact, had they had that determination to fight long before the [Warsaw] Ghetto, it might have been an entirely different story.”

Here’s the video, via Media Matters:

[iframe class=”video-embed” src=”https://mediamatters.org/embed/static/clips/2015/10/13/42518/foxnews-foxnewscom-20151012-pratt” width=”480″ height=”360″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen scrolling=”no”>]

Colmes (correctly) pointed out that Pratt’s claim about the Jews’ lack of “determination to fight” is “an extremely offensive position to a lot of Jews and also historically inaccurate.” Armed Jewish resistance to the Nazis long predates Warsaw; we don’t hear about it very much because it wasn’t very successful. When a small community takes on a standing army, the standing army wins. But Pratt, positively unbothered by these facts, doubled down, telling Colmes that his claim that the Holocaust might not have happened had the Jews not been such meek pansies in the 1930s is “only offensive to liberals…who don’t believe in self-defense.”

Larry Pratt speaking with Alan Colmes, screenshot via Media Matters

Larry Pratt speaking with Alan Colmes, screenshot via Media Matters

Well, no. It’s offensive to a lot of people. In fact, it’s only not offensive to gun rights absolutists who don’t believe in history. That just happens to be an incredibly loud and influential bloc of voters within the Republican base and conservative commentariat.

That these comments came from Larry Pratt is significant because his group, Gun Owners of America, endorsed Ted Cruz for president after he became the only candidate who returned their issues survey. Cruz has not yet gone on the record regarding Carson’s comments about gun control’s contribution to the Holocaust, but these comments from Pratt should force him (and by extension the rest of the field) to do so. And you know what that means:

“Were the Jews’ responsible for their own deaths during World War II?” is now a serious question in the Republican primary. The idea is clearly not just one of Ben Carson’s many zany conspiracy theories; it’s borderline mainstream within the conservative base, as evidenced by the spirited defense it’s received in the conservative media. This means that polling firms are going to have to start asking GOP primary voters whether they think gun control is like Hitler, and it means that journalists are going to have to start asking the rest of the Republican field the same.

I’d expect some really, really uncomfortable answers.


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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