Mother Jones Shoots Down Rambo

In case you missed it, the April issue of Mother Jones features a short but potent piece called “10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down”. These 10 myths include the favorite mindless canards you so often hear parroted by the gun culture, including “They’re Coming For Your Guns”, “Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People” and (my favorite) “An Armed Society is a Polite Society”.

Needless to say, the NRA took notice and started “debunking” this debunking. Subsequently, MJ has run a debunking of the debunking of the debunking, which holds up to scrutiny much better than the NRA’s attempted ambush or a similar one run by National Review.

No matter how heavily armed you are (or think you are), it’s not a good idea to mess with Mother.

More on the Myth of Hitler’s Gun Ban, Part 2

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( a continuation of the previous post which was the continuation of a prior post)

Salient Point # 3: Yes, the Jews fought back. So what?

Of all the statements I made in my original post, the one that seems really to stick in the craw of the gunsters the most was this:

But the concept of a handful of citizens armed with hunting rifles and Saturday night specials fending off an army is delusional hubris peculiar to gun addicts.

That was just too much reality for some of them to take, and so they accused me of being not only full of bovine fecal matter, but of being (somehow) disrespectful to the victims of the Holocaust. One “rebuttal” even characterized my research as “outrageous” and “disturbing” (unlike, say, having a bunch of deranged individuals playing with loaded weapons).  Because, as some of them hastened to point out, some of the Jews did fight back, and did so most valiantly. And in particular the gunsters point to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising as proof that my “opinion” is dead wrong.

Sometimes I really need a crowbar to pry my jaw off the  floor. I can’t imagine a more vibrant example of people arguing against their own position.

Yes, the Jews fought back, in Warsaw and many other places. They staged more than 100 acts of armed resistance, according to Wikipedia. Sometimes they did some damage, and a few of the perpetrators even lived to tell about it. And guess what? All of these insurgencies combined still failed to stop the Holocaust. So explain to me again exactly how mentioning them is supposed to discredit my conclusion?

I don’t mean to suggest that the Jews should not have resisted somehow, even violently. Desperate times call for desperate measures. But the odds were overwhelmingly against them, just as they are overwhelmingly against any group of armed citizens facing off against an armed government. Considering that their score was zero out of 100-plus at preventing the Holocaust, how can anyone believe that their acts of armed resistance prove the odds were in their favor?

Oh, wait. There’s something I forgot to include. The gunsters also maintain that even though the Jews were, in some cases, armed, they just didn’t have enough arms. If only the Jewish resistors could have gotten their hands on more hardware, they assert, the tide would have turned. They’re not even speculating about this; it’s something they absolutely and unequivocally know to be true.

Time out.

Could these possibly be the same gunsters who proclaim, loudly and at every opportunity, that “gun control doesn’t work”? And yet in the next breath they declare that beyond a shadow of a doubt, “gun control” is the one thing that made the Holocaust possible? Which is it, folks? Does “gun control” work or doesn’t it? Are you saying that it only works on Jews?

No, wait, it must work on any other oppressed people as well. Because according to the Gunster Gospel, the first thing a dictator does when seizing control is to take away people’s guns (even though an armed populace can effectively resist tyranny) and then he can commit genocide and do whatever else he pleases because the people are unarmed and therefore powerless (even though “gun control” doesn’t work). Everybody clear now?

If, as the gunsters so often insist, people who are sufficiently motivated to get their hands on guns will do so no matter what kind of laws they are violating, then one must assume that the Jews were armed to the teeth. What more powerful motivation could there possibly be than survival? But no matter how adequate or inadequate their arsenal may have been, one thing is for certain: the Nazi arsenal was far superior.

Likewise, the gun nuts who are itching for a chance to take down Uncle Sam in a showdown at the corral seem to be convinced that if they only could acquire more and bigger toys, then the momentum would shift in their direction. Sorry, gun nuts; you will always be pitifully outnumbered and pitifully outgunned.

Salient Point # 4: The exceptions really aren’t.

It appears I may have goofed again. A moment ago, I stated that when a small band of armed citizens defend themselves against armed government forces, the odds are overwhelmingly against them. What I probably should have said instead was that the odds of their success are essentially nonexistent — at least if history is any guide. Because I can’t think of a single unequivocal exception to this rule.

The gunsters, however, are convinced that they can.  There are several examples in particular that they keep lobbing in my direction: Afghanis against Soviets, the South Vietnamese against the North Vietnamese and even (I kid you not) the American Revolution. But none of these qualifies as an instance of a small contingent of armed citizens defending themselves against their government.

In each of these conflicts, the insurgents formed an army and/or were aided by outside forces; in the first two, it was the United States supplying much of the firepower. In the Revolution, the colonists formed their own organized and trained army (not just a band of armed citizens) and they were substantially aided by other armies — most notably, that of France. (Sorry, gun nuts. I know many of you love to believe that the French are anti-American socialist pussies; but the truth is that to a very large extent you owe to them the liberty you so fervently claim to cherish.) In each of these wars, moreover, the defenders were warding off invaders on their home turf — which was not the case in Germany.

And what about the French Revolution? Yes indeed, those brie-nibblers did have their own revolt and it was indeed successful, but it was a multi-pronged social upheaval rather than just a military action. And it wasn’t fought by just a small group of people, but by a large contingent of revolutionaries, including soldiers, against a corrupt aristocracy.  Note also that they were on the offensive rather than the defensive end of the clash.

Such also was the case with the successful Cuban revolution, which probably stands the best chance of providing a solid exception. The victorious revolutionary force was quite small, but it employed guerilla tactics quite effectively, essentially assuming the character of a military unit. (As I’ve mentioned before, the dividing line between civilian and military factions is sometimes blurry.) Perhaps most significantly, the Cuban guerillas had the support of the people, who were fed up with the Batista regime.

Support is crucial in such situations, which is one of many reasons why the Tea Partiers would be crushed like bugs if they ever attempted to emulate Castro’s success by storming Washington. Not only would government forces have them woefully outnumbered and outgunned, but few citizens would have their back. Most Americans would rather stick with a duly elected president, even if they don’t particularly like him, than line up behind the likes of  Wayne LaPierre.  By the way, history failed to repeat itself in Cuba only a couple of years later, when a counter-revolution failed to overthrow Castro (who is yet another dictator whom the gun culture falsely accuses of banning guns).

Which brings us back to the Jews in Germany. Some detractors have suggested that it really wouldn’t have been necessary for them to win in a conflict with the Nazi troops; just by attracting the attention of the rest of the world, they could have drawn sympathetic reinforcements that could have toppled Hitler. In other words, if they’d fought back — which they did, many times over — with better weapons — which they were prevented from acquiring by “gun control” — which doesn’t work — then it would have prevented the Holocaust — which may or may not actually have happened, depending on which gunster you ask. Such a presumption, however, ignores the most crucial factor of all.

Salient Point # 5: Hitler had a more potent weapon.

It could be found even on the other side of the world, on the seat of every new Ford motor car that rolled off the assembly line, in the form of The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, an apocryphal tome detailing how the Jews were supposedly scheming to take over the world. Henry Ford, a virulent anti-Semite, felt that every citizen (or at least every citizen who could afford to buy one of his automobiles) should have a complimentary warning about the Jewish menace.

It wasn’t just this one book that made the difference, by any means. Ford spread calumny about the Jewish people in other ways as well; he compiled his own anti-Semitic book, ran anti-Semitic rants in a newspaper he owned, and even supplied financial backing for the Nazi cause. Nor was he the only prominent American to do so. Numerous American tycoons and businesses provided financial and/or rhetorical support to Hitler and his conquest. Among them were William Randolph Hearst and a banking firm connected to Prescott Bush, grandfather of George W.

With that kind of bankroll, fueled by poisonous rhetoric, in support of the Nazis worldwide, it’s staggeringly naive to suggest that a small band of Jewish rebels, or even a large number of small bands of Jewish rebels, could have gained enough international traction to help them topple Goliath — particularly given that the Nazis controlled the media in Germany, and could censor and spin the news at their discretion.  And all the while, they were convincing people that in fact it was the Jews themselves who dominated the media. Thus they circulated illustrations like this one:

nazi propaganda

The Nazis were masters of propaganda, which saturated every level of their society at every age stratum. We’ve previously mentioned that the nursery rhymes their children were taught glorified weaponry. Additionally, the math problems they learned dealt with killing their enemies, invalids and other “undesirables”. Propaganda is arguably the most powerful weapon on earth, depending on how one defines power. The Nazis had one of the most potent arsenals of it in history; and the Jews were its prime target.

In sum, the notion that resistance by the Jews could have averted their fate — or that “gun control” was crucial to Nazi dominance — is wild speculation at best. There is scarcely a drop of evidence to support either conclusion. And an ocean of evidence to contradict them both.

A Parting Irony

And in concluding (I hope) the discussion of this topic that has dragged on much longer than I ever planned, I can’t help noting how ironic it is that the smears comparing President Obama to Hitler invariably come from right-wing extremists.  Because they themselves have much more in common with Nazism than does the president. No no no, I am not saying that they are Nazis (except for those who actually call themselves Nazis — we’ll allow them that privilege if they want it) but they at least lean in that general direction. Enough so that their likening Obama to Hitler is rather akin to the whoopee cushion calling the football flat.

Of course, if you want to play the reductio ad hitlerum game, you can always find some way in which Hitler resembles absolutely anyone. Even me; although I find Nazism detestable and see nothing the least bit admirable about Hitler, I have brown hair and a mustache and I’m a vegetarian and a writer and an amateur artist. Just like Adolf. Perhaps if you dug into his biography deeply enough, you might find that he once had a pet rabbit and raised underwear on his high school’s flagpole just as I once did.

But when we speak of the ideological kinship between Nazism and contemporary American “conservatism”, we’re referring to values that are far more fundamental: jingoistic nationalism, hawkishness, corporatism, patriarchalism, strong alliance between church and state, and “traditional values”.  Not to mention a raging hard-on for firearms. If you look at the list of Americans and American firms who aided and supported Hitler, you’ll find that they were almost entirely right-wing. And years later, it was a Republican president who honored Nazi soldiers.

Additionally, both Nazism and “conservatism” revolve to a great extent out of demonizing the others; moreover, they largely even target the same scapegoats: communists, secularists, homosexuals, university intellectuals, unions, religious minorities, and assorted “liberals”. And like the Nazis, the “conservatives” also saturate the media with accusations that those whom they most despise are really the ones who manipulate the media:

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This is a cartoon intended to depict how “liberals” supposedly control the media. Notice anything familiar about it? It was used no fewer than three times on the popular right-wing website Breitbart.com. (The man is gone but his brilliant legacy lives on.) It was eventually removed from two of the posts in question, but the last I heard, the bright folks at Breitbart still have not apologized for what might charitably be termed a dire lapse in judgment.

I may have said this before, but it bears at least one reiteration. Whenever group A wages an intensive campaign to demonize group B, it’s wise to be more suspicious of the former than the latter. If there’s one lesson the Holocaust really should have taught us, that’s it.