aNewDomain — Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon running second in the Republican race for the presidency behind Donald Trump, says so many weirdly stupid things that one must draw two conclusions:
The gaffe is dead. Voters have become so cynical and/or stupid that it is no longer possible any one thing a candidate says can torpedo his or her chances of winning elected office.
And not all brain surgeons are, well, brain surgeons. You don’t have to be smart to open and close people’s crania. You just have to have a steady hand. Which, considering that Carson’s voice and demeanor are as close to the ultimate cure for insomnia ever, I don’t doubt he possesses steady hands.
Carson’s latest brain fart: If the Jews had been armed, the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened. Or, it would have happened, but the death toll would have been lower.
(For the record: I support the Second Amendment right of individuals to bear arms.)
Picking up on a reference from Carson’s book, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked him: “Just to clarify, if there had been no gun control laws in Europe at that time, would six million Jews have been slaughtered?”
Carson replied no. “I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed … I’m telling you that there is a reason that these dictatorial people take the guns first,” he said.
My first reaction to Carson’s remarks was: Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
Those Jews had guns. They fought back. Trouble is, the Nazis killed them all. Warsaw was a noble tribute to the human spirit, no doubt about it, and the combatants deserve all the accolades they have received.
But it didn’t reduce the German’s death count. It may have slowed them down by a month. But it did, in all fairness, slow them down.
My point here is a big, sticky one: Carson is either lying or, considering his lack of political sophistication, simply repeating an old NRA lie about how the Nazis took away the right of individual Germans to own firearms.
Actually, Adolf Hitler eliminated the gun control measures enacted by the pre-Nazi Weimar Republic.
Then there’s a coda: the Jews weren’t an organized force. They were civilians, blended into a civilian society. Even if they’d been allowed to own firearms (the anti-Semitic Nuremberg laws ensured that they weren’t) there is absolutely no way that individual Jews, even in small groups or families — could have held off the highly-trained police, military and paramilitary forces of Nazi Germany, a nation-state.
As Brown historian Omer Bartov told Salon: “Just imagine the Jews of Germany exercising the right to bear arms and fighting the SA, SS and the Wehrmacht. The [Russian] Red Army lost 7 million men fighting the Wehrmacht, despite its tanks and planes and artillery. The Jews with pistols and shotguns would have done better?”
Or let’s look at the United States, where any deranged kid can pick up an AR-15 assault rifle, which is a very impressive weapon used by American soldiers to kill Afghans and Iraqis en masse. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris killed a bunch of their classmates at Columbine High School with assault rifles, but when the SWAT team showed up, they were doomed.
There are strong arguments in favor of gun rights: hunting and serving as a deterrent to government tyranny are among them.
Stating that individuals could use them to defend themselves against state actors like Nazi Germany, or individuals with the benefit of surprise, like the shooters at Virginia Tech and Roseburg, that Carson was referencing, is just dumb.
For aNewDomain, I’m Ted Rall.
Cover and all images of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of Jews against Nazis in Poland: Ushmm.org, All Rights Reserved