09 October 2015
Dr. Carson: the final solution?
While chasing Donald Trump in the polls this year, Dr. Ben Carson has learned something from the erstwhile front-runner: never apologize. Continuing to riff on gun rights following the Oregon amoklauf, Dr. Carson has incurred the wrath of the Anti-Defamation League. He didn't exactly defame them or their Jewish constituents, though again many feel that history's victims are defamed whenever anyone says they might have put up more of a fight. This is Dr. Carson's position on the Nazi campaign to exterminate the Jewish people. He has said that Hitler would have had a hard time carrying out his agenda had Jews been armed, and he apparently believes that German gun control policies were a necessary step toward the Final Solution. Despite counterexamples from the Arab world, Carson argues, as do many American gun advocates, that gun control is something tyrants do to consolidate their tyranny. He dismisses the ADL objection that gun control made little difference in the course of Nazi history as "foolishness." But just as history was on his side when he recommended collective self-defense against amoklaufers, it appears to refute him this time. It will be recalled that Jewish people got their hands on quite a few guns, admittedly at a late point in the process, and launched an armed uprising against the occupiers of Warsaw -- in vain. At most, many had the satisfaction of dying with their boots on. Like many people today, Dr. Cason has something of a Vietnam mentality that leads him to overrate the effectiveness of guerrilla resistance. If the Viet Cong could hold off and drive out the U.S., and the Afghan mujaheddin could hold off and drive out the U.S.S.R., anything might seem possible for plucky underdogs with firearms. Whether a domestic insurgency in a superpower could fare as well is a separate question that would seem to lead those whose first motive for gun-nuttery is fear of tyranny to claim boundless rights to resistance and the tools of resistance: bombs, missiles, etc. Assault weapons will not cut it. Looking back to the Shoah, Carson may as well have argued that European Jews ought to have bought themselves an air force or made chemical weapons, yet he talks as if rifles and machine guns might have changed history. It's possible that they might have, but would the good doctor, vigilant against tyranny as he is, endorse the tactic of assassination to safeguard liberty? It's not exactly a big leap from reserving the right to armed resistance, but would Carson dare go there? A Jewish terror campaign against the German government might have made a difference, even if history shows that one actual effort along that line, the killing of a German diplomat in France, resulted in the Kristallnacht. So let's give Dr. Carson fresh questions to answer. If an American leader violates the Constitution and appears to menace perceived fundamental liberties, would Dr. Carson recommend that that leader be assassinated? Would he recommend that the people who support that leader be targeted for terrorist attack? If guns are essential to our liberty, let him tell us how to use them, and let us decide whether his ideas would even work.