Last week, famed pediatric neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson was asked by CNN about claims in his book about the Nazi policy of disarming Jews. Both in his book and during the CNN interview, Carson claimed that had the Jews not been forcibly disarmed by Hitler, the Nazi regime would not have so easily been able to implement its genocide of millions of Jews.
Carson’s anodyne statement, though, was not nearly as fascinating as the hysterical progressive response to it. Rather than even attempting to make an argument that Carson was wrong, they went straight to the political version of gaslighting: instead of engaging an individual or argument, just mount a deliberately dishonest campaign to convince everyone, including the subject, that he’s a crazy person with no grasp on reality. After all, there’s no need to refute arguments made by insane people. So instead of engaging Carson’s argument, they gaslighted him and anyone who might defend him (language warning):
Wow, great arguments, guys. You sure showed that pediatric neurosurgeon what was what. On one hand, Carson–a world-renowned pediatric surgeon–made a completely uncontroversial remark about the nature of the Nazi gun control regime: its entire purpose was to make it easier for Nazis to kill Jews. On the other hand, you used the F-word repeatedly. I don’t know who I can trust!
The progressive response to Carson is illustrative: deep down they know that Nazi gun confiscation during the Holocaust poses something of a problem for those who wish to institute gun confiscation regimes today. Defending forced gun confiscations in theory (“fewer guns means less violence!”) is a lot easier than defending forced gun confiscations in practice. So instead of being faced with either defending Hitler’s gun confiscation regime or acknowledging that Carson’s underlying point was correct, they chose to gaslight him.
They should not get off that easy, though. If they’re going to attack Carson for accurately describing the intent behind Nazi disarmament of Jews, then they need to answer a few questions about that disarmament regime. Question one: was Hitler wrong to disarm the Jews? Why or why not? (Or if you’re a Godwin’s law adherent: was the South wrong to forcibly disarm blacks?) And question two, should they deign to answer the first one: why did Hitler disarm the Jews?
Those two questions pose some serious problems for anyone wishing to argue that gun confiscation in principle is perfectly acceptable. There are only a few answers to the first question of whether Hitler was wrong to disarm the Jews: 1) no, because the Jews deserved it, 2) yes, because gun confiscation is wrong in principle, or 3) yes, but only because everyone’s guns should’ve been confiscated. No decent person on earth could possible offer the first answer. No gun controller could possibly offer the second answer, because they believe that gun confiscation is a worthy policy. Which leaves the third answer. And that third answer boils down to, “Yes, Hitler’s gun confiscation regime was wrong, but only because Hitler didn’t go far enough to disarm everybody.” That answer is untenable for obvious reasons.
Here’s how Politico‘s Glenn Thrush approached the question after his own attempt to gaslight anyone with the audacity to defend Carson:
Setting aside for the moment the fact that Thrush seems to not understand how yes-or-no questions work (hint: they never begin with the word “who”), you can plainly see how uncomfortable the question makes him. This kind of back and forth–me asking Thrush a simple question, Thrush hopelessly flailing about in an attempt to avoid it–went on and on until he finally blocked me, which is a perfect illustration of how unwilling some pro-gun control progressives are to engage in any activity even remotely resembling actual debate.
To his credit MSNBC political reporter Benjy Sarlin unhesitatingly answered the first question about whether Hitler was wrong to disarm the Jews:
Unfortunately, he balked at answering the second question, the one that gets to the foundation of Ben Carson’s point: why did Hitler disarm the Jews?
The reason pro-gun control progressives really, really, really do not want to answer those questions is because the answers are obvious. Hitler disarmed the Jews because it made the whole process of murdering them easier on the Nazis. The Nazis didn’t want to get shot, so they disarmed anyone and everyone who might shoot at them. Like most evil tyrants, Hitler preferred to commit genocide without running the risk of being slowed down by those he intended to oppress and murder. His reason for gun confiscation was no different than the rationale used to disarm blacks in the American South.
Frederick Douglass, the escaped American slave, knew quite well why slaveowners didn’t want their slaves to have access to firearms:
“[T]he liberties of the American people [are] dependent upon the ballot-box, the jury-box, and the cartridge-box,” Douglass wrote, referring to the right to vote, be tried by a fair and representative jury, and own and carry firearms (“cartridge” box was a reference to ammunition). “[W]ithout these no class of people could live and flourish in this country.”
After the U.S. passed the Fugitive Slave Act, an 1850 law that required all captured slaves to be returned to their masters, Douglass again referenced the power of the firearm to preserve one’s God-given rights. To Douglass, the only “true remedy” to the execrable fugitive slave law was “a good revolver, a steady hand, and a determination to shoot down any man attempting to kidnap” an escaped slave.
It’s no coincidence that black gun ownership helped put an end to the racist Jim Crow laws throughout the South.
An unarmed victim is much easier to kill than an armed one. The oppressor wishes for nothing more than for the oppressed to have no ability to fight back. Vile, violent megalomaniacs like Hitler understood this. The American Founding Fathers understood it, too, as did the Brits who sought to ambush the colonists’ ammunition stores. It’s why the Founders insisted on explicitly stating that the right of Americans to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The Founders knew that something more than flowery language would be required to uphold the God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was neither authored nor ratified by accident.
Progressives can try to gaslight people like Ben Carson all they want, but if they’re going to play that game, they’re going to be forced to answer some uncomfortable questions themselves. If they’re going to attack Ben Carson for accurately stating that an unarmed populace is in a poor position to fight back against someone wishing to wipe them off the face of the earth, then they’re going to need to explain why, exactly, people like Hitler and those who oppressed blacks in the South were so eager to prevent their prey from fighting back.