A recent article was pointed out by a friend on Facebook. In my opinion I found the article to be so full of twists, half-truths and spin as to be insulting. I could not help but dissect it to see what made it tick.
Titled: The Hitler gun control lie
Gun rights activists who cite the dictator as a reason against gun control have their history dangerously wrong
By Alex Seitz-Wald
Sorry only one way to say it, what a specious set of arguments and half-truths. To start at the top, Mr. Seitz-Wald said the Drudge headline was merely speculating that the President would proceed with executive orders. In truth Drudge was not speculating, they were quoting. The Office of the President via the Vice President said they are going to use the power of the executive order: "The president is going to act," Biden said. Executive order, executive action that can be taken; we haven't decided what that is yet. But we're compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and all the rest of the cabinet members as well as legislative action, we believe, is required."
Mr. Seitz-Wald then sites a Slate link that attempts to prove his argument that those on the right are wrong because as they put it “For someone who's spent so much time on gun legislation, Biden's awfully ignorant…” Wow, so we gun owners should not be worried, because our Vice President is ignorant of the Constitution. Thanks that made me feel much better. Plus the President is tasking Eric Holder for help in limiting my ownership of firearms. That would be the same Attorney General that said he was clueless about the actions of his office and the ATF in Fast and Furious, a scheme that resulted in the deaths of many people. Not only did his people break the law directly in this but they forced law-abiding gun store owners to become accomplices under the threat of administrative and judicial harassment.
I would add that we on the right fear the executive order and so should all Americans. In other countries the executive order is called a decree. It is issued by an all-powerful leader and cannot be overturned.
In the history of the United States only two executive orders have ever been overturned. Congress can change law in an attempt to override it, but the President has the power to veto the attempt and a super majority is then required to defeat him. The power of the order is absolute, and trumps the Constitution in many ways. Presidents Lincoln, Wilson and Roosevelt locked up American citizens for indefinite periods without trial. President Clinton went to war in Kosovo in 1999 under an executive order. Which as a side note, since we still have troops in Kosovo makes it the longest war in American history, not as the news mistakenly points out the war in Afghanistan.
Mr. Seitz-Wald states that the NRA, Fox News and most gun owners etc. “all agree that gun control was critical to Hitler’s rise to power.” He also goes on to quote the NRA head Wayne LaPierre from his book Guns, Crime, and Freedom “In Germany, Jewish extermination began with the Nazi Weapon Law of 1938, signed by Adolf Hitler.” Since Mr. Seitz-Wald uses the term “dwelled on” in his explanation I am assuming he disagrees with this. To a certain extent so do I. The line should have been “In Germany, the ground work for Jewish extermination began with the Nazi Weapon Law of 1938.” In any case Mr. Seitz-Wald then makes a subtle misquote that he intends to use to invalidate their argument “the notion that Hitler confiscated everyone’s guns is mostly bogus.” By this he is redirecting what they said i.e. gun “control was critical to Hitler” into total confiscation was bogus. Bluntly he is stating a falsehood and thinks you will not catch it.
But what we on the right are saying, that “gun control was critical to Hitler” is absolutely correct. Hitler did not take everyone’s guns. He took all the Jew’s guns. He eliminated any restrictions against gun ownership and what we now call concealed carry for those in his party, the Nazi party. He did the same for all government workers and elected officials. Private citizens, as long as they were not Jews could in a very limited fashion own guns but not carry concealed. Oddly enough we have the same laws more or less in America now. In all states that do not allow concealed carry for its residents, all elected officials are allowed to carry. Even in Illinois where no one is allowed to carry upon punishment of prison and huge fines any official who is sworn into office may carry any time they wish. From the Governor down to the local aldermen they may all carry, you may not. If you think this would change under new federal legislation, I think you would be wrong. Even felons, if elected and sworn in will, by law be allowed to carry. No I am not making that up. Hubert Norris a convicted felon ran for Sheriff of Fayette County TN, once elected he could carry.
Once Hitler had control of who did and did not own a gun he was assured a victory in things like The Night of the Long Knives where Hitler eliminated his political opposition by killing them and Kristallnacht which is probably the real start of the Jew’s extermination. By the end of Kristallnacht the first 30,000 Jews from all over Germany were headed to the camps. What would have been the outcome of that night and what effect would it have had on world history if the Jews had been armed? There is of course no way to tell. But by the use of gun control to insure a disarmed Jewish populace there was only one outcome left.
But, back to Mr. Seitz-Wald and his article, he states “And the ancillary claim that Jews could have stopped the Holocaust with more guns doesn’t make any sense at all if you think about it for more than a minute.”
Why does this not make any sense? Mr. Seitz-Wald does not offer any support for his assertion he merely states it as fact and expects you to read it and believe it.
Does Mr. Seitz-Wald think the Jewish people would not defend themselves and their families? Does he think they would be incapable of fighting back? The history of the Jewish people in Israel does not back up that theory. Had the Jews of Germany been armed and had they used those arms there would have been a protracted period of civil war in Germany. Their attackers were not the army; they were not even the police. The Jews of Germany were attacked by the SA paramilitary and civilians.
The fictional American equivalent would be if President Truman had in his last year in office allowed the KKK and the Dixiecrats lead by Robert Byrd to kill all the blacks in the south in a movement called the Crystal Night. In this fictional situation it would be fair to say that guns were too expensive to the owned in large number by the poor blacks of Alabama or Georgia.
So could we then change Mr. Seitz-Wald’s quote to “And the ancillary claim that blacks could have stopped the Crystal Night with more guns doesn’t make any sense at all if you think about it for more than a minute.” When transposed into the American culture his comments show up as both ridiculous and racist. Odd, if you use that quote about blacks it is a bad thing, if you say the same about Jews he figures you will be ok with it.
Mr. Seitz-Wald then goes on to use an expert, Chicago law professor Bernard Harcourt, to twist the truth around into a pretzel. He quotes from an article by Mr. Harcourt stating that the gun laws in Germany prior to 1938 were tougher. This is true. He quotes Mr. Harcourt “In 1928, the Reichstag relaxed the regulation a bit, but put in place a strict registration regime that required citizens to acquire separate permits to own guns, sell them or carry them.” Again this is true.
But then Mr. Seitz-Wald puts the twist on the truth with “The law did prohibit Jews and other persecuted classes from owning guns, but this should not be an indictment of gun control in general.” So we should not consider it an argument against gun control that by disarming the people Hitler intended to send to the death camps it made it easier to do so?
He continues to spin the truth with unrelated comparisons. He says “Does the fact that Nazis forced Jews into horrendous ghettos indict urban planning?” These are two unrelated things. Ghettos had existed for hundreds of years thought Europe. They were by law the only places a Jew could live. Urban planning is a program where a city’s living spaces are designed to blend into the city layout in a functional manner. I can only construe that Mr. Seitz-Wald is referring to the mistaken belief that urban planning equals’ ghettos or that blacks are forced to live there and so they become ghettos. What he also fails to understand is that the Jewish ghettos of the past were surrounded by walls and gates which the Jewish inhabitants could and did close for protection.
More twisting is applied by his comment, “Should we eliminate all police officers because the Nazis used police officers to oppress and kill the Jews?” This is incorrect, during Kristallnacht the police did not participate in the killings. They stood by and allowed it to happen. So a better question would be, ”Should we eliminate the police if they allow an armed mob to slaughter unarmed innocents?” But if asked that way it invalidates Mr. Seitz-Wald’s argument.
Lastly he asked “What about public works — Hitler loved public works projects? Of course not.” I’m not even sure what the heck Mr. Seitz-Wald means by that statement. It is not very well written but part of the preceding sentence starts with “Should we eliminate all police…” So I guess he is asking should we eliminate public works because Hitler liked them. Again I don’t see a connection from it to gun control but it spins his argument into a position where if you are against gun control then you are against public works. So how can you be against that? Of course if you asked the question in its historical reference you get “Hitler loved public works projects which used the slave labor of the Jews. Should you be against working thousands and thousands of slaves to death to improve the infrastructure and economy of a dictatorship?” That question should be followed up with “If you have the ability and the arms to oppose this slavery should you rise up and fight against it?” Seems we did just that about 150 years ago. I guess Mr. Seitz-Wald does not think that was a viable option since it required an armed populous. By the way it was illegal in the south for a black man free or slave to own a gun. From long before the Revolution of 1776 to long after the Civil war gun ownership was denied to blacks. The southern slave owners feared there would be an uprising against them, and rightly so. In that case gun control worked to keep an oppressed people in the yoke of slavery. Why does Mr. Seitz-Wald disapprove of a free person being able to defend themselves?
More experts are brought into the argument, he uses a historian, Omer Bartov, who notes that the Jews probably wouldn’t have had much success fighting back. Mr. Bartov justifies this with “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.”
Again a specious argument, in the years from 1939 to 1944 Germany had years of massive arms buildup and millions of soldiers under arms. At the onset in 1939 what effect would it have had if an armed Jewish rebellion had arisen to confront a newly elected Hitler? Would Neville Chamberlain have given in to Hitler over the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia or Poland if there was a civil war going on in Germany?
The one historical occasion of an armed resistance to the Nazi was the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Mr. Seitz-Wald basically dismisses it as a failure, which it was as the Jews lost and were for the most part all killed. But Mr. Seitz-Wald offers no viable option to what they did, he just considers it a lost cause. What should the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto done Mr. Seitz-Wald? Peacefully surrender to their fate I guess. How noble of him to recommend they accept death by starvation over fighting back with a gun.
In my opinion the article at this point begins to dissolve into a mash of unrelated experts and references that have no bearing in the argument. An example is the reference to Robert Spitzer, a political scientist who studies gun politics who says “that the prohibition on Jewish gun ownership was merely a symptom, not the problem itself. “[It] wasn’t the defining moment that marked the beginning of the end for Jewish people in Germany. It was because they were persecuted, were deprived of all of their rights, and they were a minority group,” he explained.”
That is pretty much the reference, what it means in relationship anything else is unknown. I don’t think however it supports Mr. Seitz-Wald’s intent. No the disarming of the Jews in Germany was not the root problem. It was however a symptom of or a warning of a tyrannical regime about to inflect a level of mass murder and oppression not seen in the modern world. And no it wasn’t the defining moment that marked the beginning of the end for Jewish people, but it sure helped pave the way.
Mr. Seitz-Wald cites a quote from Hitler often used by the right as being historically incorrect, probably true. But the quote does express the feeling that most gun owners have that denying a person the right to protect themselves is the first step to tyranny and ends in failure to establish peace or safety.
For some reason at this point Mr. Seitz-Wald allows Stalin to enter the conversation. “As for Stalin,” Bartov continued, “the very idea of either gun control or the freedom to bear arms would have been absurd to him.” So the unarmed Russian people who Stalin slaughtered in numbers that make Hitler look like a pauper is used by Mr. Seitz-Wald as an example against gun ownership? What?
He continues, “Bartov added that this misreading of history is not only intellectually dishonest, but also dangerous. “I happen to have been a combat soldier and officer in the Israeli Defense Forces and I know what these assault rifles can do,” he said in an email.” Again, What?
To try to understand him maybe, “misreading of history is not only intellectually dishonest, but also dangerous.” Ok maybe he means since all attempts to defend yourself against Stalin’s and Hitler’s type of oppression have failed we should not repeat that folly, submit and live. The submit part went well for a time. Of course the live part did not work out well for the Jews under Hitler or the people starved to death under Stalin, but they didn’t own any of those nasty guns while they died.
As for “I happen to have been a combat soldier and officer in the Israeli Defense Forces and I know what these assault rifles can do” I’m also not sure what he means by this but maybe he wants the Palestinians to agree to follow the submit and live part of his idea. But I don’t see them agreeing to the gun control side of Mr. Seitz-Wald ideas.
Finally and this one took some re-reading to follow, “Their assertion that they need these guns to protect themselves from the government — as supposedly the Jews would have done against the Hitler regime — means not only that they are innocent of any knowledge and understanding of the past, but also that they are consciously or not imbued with the type of fascist or Bolshevik thinking that they can turn against a democratically elected government, indeed turn their guns on it, just because they don’t like its policies, its ideology, or the color, race and origin of its leaders.”
Here’s what I got out of it.
Gun owner’s belief that their guns will protect them from an evil regime like Hitler’s will fail just like it did for the Jews, so submit and live.
Gun owners are ignorant of the history which shows that attempting to defend yourself against tyranny will fail, so submit and live.
Gun owners are either fascists (A person who believes in an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government) or a Bolshevik (normally a left-wing majority group that followed Lenin i.e. the Communist party).
Can't have it both ways sir. Although in this case I think he means a Bolshevik is a violent radical. So a desire to live free or die and a willingness to enforce that belief with arms makes you a violent radical fascist.
Lastly, “thinking that they can turn against a democratically elected government, indeed turn their guns on it, just because they don’t like its policies, its ideology, or the color, race and origin of its leaders.”
Means to me Mr. Seitz-Wald thinks gun owners are racists who believe Obama was born in Kenya.