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“Master Manipulator Of Emotion”: Mike Huckabee Stokes Fear With Nazi Gun Control Comparison

Pastor-politician Mike Huckabee continues to stoke fear and paranoia regarding the sensible gun safety measures proposed in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting that killed 20 children and six adults, the latest gun-related massacre that occurred because of what many consider to be lax gun laws in America, compared to other developed nations.

On his radio show Wednesday afternoon, Huckabee responded to a caller who repeated the lie that Adolf Hitler and the Nazis turned Germany from a democracy into a dictatorship by registering and collecting guns, by saying:

“When you bring that up there are people that get crazy on us. They’ll start saying, ‘oh there you go, comparing to the Nazis.’ And I understand the reaction. But it’s the truth. You cannot take people’s rights away if they are resisting and have the means to resist. But once they’re disarmed and the people who are trying to take over have all the power — not just political, not just financial — but they have the physical power to domesticate us and to subjugate us to their will, there’s not a whole lot we can do about it, other than just plan to die in the course of resistance…in every society and culture where dictators take over, one of the things they have to do is get control of the military and police and ultimately all the citizens and make sure the citizens are disarmed and can’t fight in the streets. Gosh I hope it doesn’t come to that.”

Besides making a slippery-slope argument that modest gun reform will somehow lead to weapon confiscation and a Nazi-style dictatorship, Huckabee and the caller display a dangerously ignorant reading of history regarding gun laws in Nazi Germany. Mother Jones, Salon, and other publications have refuted the oft-repeated assertion among gun rights absolutists that gun control allowed Hitler’s rise to power and made the Holocaust possible.

First, it is worth noting that other developed, democratic nations with stronger gun laws, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and others, did not see a dictator rise to power and “domesticate” and “subjugate” their people when they enacted new gun measures. In fact, their democracies are still intact with the people still deciding important issues peacefully through the ballot box. What these countries have done is made their societies safer by decreasing gun violence.

Now back to the right wing’s seemingly favorite comparison when discussing anything President Obama has proposed to help the American people — Nazis.

The reality is that the Weimar Republic following World War I actually had tougher gun laws than the Nazi regime, in part to disarm the violent extremists causing havoc, like the paramilitary SA brownshirts. The Nazi Weapon Law of 1938 actually loosened gun restrictions, except for Jews and other persecuted minorities.

But there were only 214,000 Jews living in Germany when World War II started and between 160,000 and 180,000 were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. That is a small fraction of the six million Jews from other countries who were murdered and who wouldn’t have been subject to the Nazi gun laws. The mighty Russian army lost more than 10 million soldiers fighting the Wermacht on the Eastern Front, so it is unrealistic to think that a Jewish armed uprising in Eastern Europe would have beaten back the German military machine. That is why many say a strong Israeli army is so important to preventing another holocaust, the reasoning being that a Jewish state with a modern military is the only match for a genocidal force like the Nazis.

In reality, it is the Tea Party “patriots” intimidating people with loaded assault rifles, Republican efforts to suppress the vote, and right-wing radio hosts like Huckabee stoking fear and paranoia that more closely resemble the tactics used by Hitler’s Nazis to gain power.

Gun control and Second Amendment-analysis website GunCite concludes the following in a story titled “The Myth of Nazi Gun Control”: “There are no lessons about the efficacy of gun control to be learned from the Germany of the first half of [the 20th] century. It is all too easy to forget the seductive allure that fascism presented to all the West, bogged down in economic and social morass. What must be remembered is that the Nazis were master manipulators of popular emotion and sentiment, and were disdainful of people thinking for themselves. There is the danger to which we should pay great heed. Not fanciful stories about Nazis seizing guns.”

 

By: Josh Marks, The National Memo, April 5, 2013

April 6, 2013 Posted by | Gun Control | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Conservative Paranoid Fantasies”: The Return Of Right-Wing Insurrectionism, This Time Featuring Hitler

What is it about President Obama’s inaugurations that bring out the craziest of the right-wing crazies?

Four years ago, Obama’s historic swearing-in sparked months’ worth of teeth-chattering paranoia, trumpeted by the conservative media, about how the new Democratic president posed a mortal threat to America and that drastic action might need to be taken.

In 2009, a far-right Newsmax columnist determined that a “military coup “to resolve the ‘Obama problem'” was not “unrealistic.” That’s about the same time Glenn Beck used his then-new program on Fox News to game out bloody scenarios for the coming civil war against the Obama-led tyranny. Note that the armed rebellion rhetoric was uncorked just weeks after Obama’s first cabinet had been confirmed.

Now, four years later as Obama’s second swearing-in approaches, the same misguided insurrectionist pageantry is back on display. (The fringe John Birch Society is probing the likelihood of “armed resistance” against the government — “an unlikely prospect, for now at least.”) And this time, Adolf Hitler stars in a leading role.

In fact, there’s a disturbing collision now underway featuring two signature, conservative paranoid fantasies. One holds that Obama is like Hitler; that he’s a tyrant ready to undo democracy at home. The other is that Americans need access to an unregulated supply of assault weapons in order to fight their looming insurrectionist war with the government.

In the last week we’ve heard more and more conservatives try to tie the two wild tales together: Obama’s allegedly pending gun grab will prove he’s just like Hitler, which will demonstrate the need for citizens to declare war on the government.

Ignoring nearly 250 years of our democratic history, conservative voices across the media landscape have been nodding their heads in agreement suggesting it’s only a matter of time before the United States resembles a tyrannical dictatorship that will be either fascistic or Stalinist in nature (or both, if the rhetorician feels no obligation to historical accuracy).

So much for the notion of American exceptionalism — “the conviction that our country holds a unique place and role in human history” — that conservatives love to preach.

The latest round of right-wing Obama panic was prompted by the Newtown, CT, school massacre. In its wake, Obama is reportedly ready to initiate efforts to curb gun violence, including possibly using executive orders. Simply the idea of instituting common sense gun reform, among other public policy issues, has sparked violent rhetoric about war and sedition early in the new year.

Fox’s Todd Starnes warned there would “a revolution” if the government tries to “confiscate our guns.” Fox News contributor Arthur Herman declared the U.S. is “one step closer” to a looming “civil war,” while fellow contributor Pat Caddell claimed the country was in a “pre-revolutionary condition,” and “on the verge of an explosion.”

And on his syndicated radio show last week, Sean Hannity speculated that states will move to secede should the “radicalized, abusive federal government” continue on its current path, and that they’d be justified in doing so.

Who’s to blame? Obama and Hilter.

Fox News’ Dr. Keith Ablow insisted history‘s filled with examples of leaders who confiscated guns as a precursor to “catastrophic abuses” of power: “One need look no further than Nazi Germany.” Fox’s Judge Andrew Napolitano made the same connection, while a Kentucky radio host compared firearm regulations to Nazi “yellow star” laws.

That’s the hook for the latest insurrectionist rants: If Obama’s going to act like Hitler, then of course right-wing gun owners are going to wage war.

Appearing on Piers Morgan Tonight last week, and after admitting he didn’t know that Ronald Reagan had supported an assault weapons ban, Breitbart.com editor Ben Shapiro stuck to his claim that the gun debate in this country is really about “the left and the right” because the right understands Americans have to arm themselves with assault weapons to defend against the United States government [emphasis added]:

SHAPIRO: I told you, why the general population of America, law-abiding citizens, need AR-15s.
MORGAN: Why do they need those weapons?

SHAPIRO: They need them for the prospective possibility for the resistance of tyranny. Which is not a concern today, it may not be a concern tomorrow.

MORGAN: Where do you expect tyranny to come from?

SHAPIRO: It could come from the United States, because governments have gone tyrannical before, Piers.

MORGAN: So the reason we cannot remove assault weapons is because of the threat of your own government turning on you in a tyrannical way.

SHAPIRO: Yes.

The right is stockpiling weapons because the U.S. government might go Nazi and declare war on a portion of its own people. And when the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines unleash their unmatched firepower on citizens, “the right” intends to be fully armed with AR-15s to fight a war within the U.S. borders.

That is the reason the Second Amendment exists? It’s not for everyday self-defense, or to protect the rights of hunters and gun enthusiasts, but to enable citizens to go to war with the U.S. government? To fend off a “tyrannical” turn at home. At least according to Shapiro’s keen take on history.

That’s what was “debated” on CNN last week. Not once but twice.

From conspiracy professional Alex Jones and his CNN harangue on January 7:

Hitler took the guns, Stalin took the guns, Mao took the guns, Fidel Castro took the guns, Hugo Chavez took the guns!” Jones ranted. “And I am here to tell you, 1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms!

We already knew from 2009 that far-right voices were fretting about the need for a citizen’s militia to stop Obama’s destructive ways. Now four years later, with gun control initiatives pending, the frantic rants have escalated and Obama’s fiercest critics are rationalizing their insurrectionist chants by comparing the presidents actions to those of Hitler. The comparison isn’t just offensive, it’s also inaccurate: the Nazis actually loosened restrictions on private gun ownership (except for Jews and other persecuted groups).

That kind of ugliness not only pollutes our public dialogue, it also gives comfort to gun radicals who embrace the rhetoric. In early 2009, fearing what a friend described as “the Obama gun ban that’s on the way,” conspiracy nut (and Alex Jones fan) Richard Poplawski lured three Pittsburgh policemen to his apartment, then shot and killed them at his front door.

All the right-wing chatter today about how Obama’s following Hitler’s lead by allegedly voiding the Second Amendment only adds fuel to an unwanted fire.

By: Eric Boehlert, The Huffington Post, January 14, 2013

January 15, 2013 Posted by | Guns, Right Wing | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Guns, Slavery And The Holocaust”: The Nonsensical, Offensive Argument That Gun Rights Help Protect Minorities From Oppression

They still save the Hitler invocations for the special occasions, so you could tell earlier this week when Matt Drudge went with his absurd Hitler and Stalin homepage about Obama and guns that we are at what the paranoid right thinks of as a watershed moment. Let’s hope to God it is. Drudge’s page was of course crazy: The whiff of fascism in this gun debate sure isn’t emanating from the White House, but from the direction of the forces using the techniques for which Hitler was famous during his rise to power—accusing the other side of doing precisely what he and his henchmen were doing, inverting the truth on its head in ways that offended common sense and morality at every turn.

Let’s start with yesterday’s news about Gun Appreciation Day, the invention of a certain Larry Ward. He is planning the big day to coincide with the president’s inauguration, set for Monday, January 21. When reminded by a CNN interviewer that this was also the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, Ward, like all propagandists, was ready with an answer: “I think Martin Luther King, Jr. would agree with me if he were alive today that if African Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country’s founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history.”

It’s always a tip off when they say King “would have agreed with me.” We’re about to endure another round of this again, when King day comes and conservatives dish out the obligatory “King would be a conservative today” columns. It’s completely ridiculous, as is the idea that armed slaves would have managed anything more than the wholesale slaughter by their far better-armed masters of many of their number.

But Ward, it turns out, walks a well-worn path of gun advocates trying to pretend that they pursue the policies they pursue for the sake of the powerless. In the 1970s, the first big gun debate in the country after the 1968 Gun Control Act—which the NRA supported—concerned Saturday Night Specials, the small, cheap handguns used in many crimes in that decade when street crime skyrocketed. The NRA needed an argument that might land sympathetically on the ear of a natural foe, and then-leader Harlon Carter, the man who politicized and radicalized what had theretofore been a moderate and sensible group, found one. As Rick Perlstein notes in The Nation, Carter dubbed the Saturday Night Special “the girl’s best friend,” arguing that it was “small enough to fit into a woman’s purse.”

This all brings us back to Hitler himself. He’s been used before by gun advocates, as Gavin Aronsen wrote in Mother Jones, and in the same way as above: If Hitler hadn’t barred Jews from owning guns, then the Holocaust might never have happened. Wayne LaPierre took up this line of argument in the mid-1990s.

So there you are—guns, you see, aren’t merely or even really for sportsmen, or for homeowners seeking to protect their property and family. They’re for oppressed minorities to fight off the oppressor; and even to make revolution. To believe that armed Jews could have prevented the Holocaust requires so many gargantuan leaps of faith about how that might have happened that it’s completely fantastical and ridiculous. No one can seriously believe this. They say it purely for propagandistic purposes. A person who can use the Holocaust for present-day propaganda purposes will do pretty much anything.

In a rational world, in the wake of the massacre of 20 six- and seven-year-old children, the NRA would be saying: You know, you’re right; we more than anyone else advocate safe and legal gun use, and we more than anyone else have an interest in seeing to it that things like this don’t happen. So let’s sit down and craft some laws. That was what the NRA did, in fact, until the 1970s, when the right-wing started smelling political advantage in pressing the many fronts of the culture war. But that isn’t our world, and so we have the grotesque spectacle of the NRA using this massacre and the government’s attempt to do something about it to rile gun owners to the point of insurrection.

I hope Biden comes out with tough recommendations Tuesday. Even if the administration has to back down from a couple of things eventually and settle for less than it wanted—and less than we need—I hope at least that Obama and Biden are willing to do us all the simple honor of speaking the truth about the gun lobby. If they can’t be defeated just yet, they can at least be spoken of as the monsters they are. And if Newtown is not fated to result in wholesale changes in gun laws, at least it might be remembered 10 or 20 years from now as the beginning of the end of the NRA, the start of a period when the lies lost some of their force.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, January 12, 2013

January 14, 2013 Posted by | Bigotry, Guns | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Hitler Gun Control Lie”: Pro-Proliferation Gun Enthusiasts Have Their History Dangerously Wrong

This week, people were shocked when the Drudge Report posted a giant picture of Hitler over a headline speculating that the White House will proceed with executive orders to limit access to firearms. The proposed orders are exceedingly tame, but Drudge’s reaction is actually a common conservative response to any invocation of gun control.

The NRA, Fox News, Fox News (again), Alex Jones, email chains, Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, Gun Owners of America, etc., all agree that gun control was critical to Hitler’s rise to power. Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (“America’s most aggressive defender of firearms ownership”) is built almost exclusively around this notion, popularizing posters of Hitler giving the Nazi salute next to the text: “All in favor of ‘gun control’ raise your right hand.”

In his 1994 book, NRA head Wayne LaPierre dwelled on the Hitler meme at length, writing: “In Germany, Jewish extermination began with the Nazi Weapon Law of 1938, signed by Adolf Hitler.”

And it makes a certain amount of intuitive sense: If you’re going to impose a brutal authoritarian regime on your populace, better to disarm them first so they can’t fight back.

Unfortunately for LaPierre et al., the notion that Hitler confiscated everyone’s guns is mostly bogus. 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.

University of Chicago law professor Bernard Harcourt explored this myth in depth in a 2004 article published in the Fordham Law Review. As it turns out, the Weimar Republic, the German government that immediately preceded Hitler’s, actually had tougher gun laws than the Nazi regime. After its defeat in World War I, and agreeing to the harsh surrender terms laid out in the Treaty of Versailles, the German legislature in 1919 passed a law that effectively banned all private firearm possession, leading the government to confiscate guns already in circulation. 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.

The 1938 law signed by Hitler that LaPierre mentions in his book basically does the opposite of what he says it did. “The 1938 revisions completely deregulated the acquisition and transfer of rifles and shotguns, as well as ammunition,” Harcourt wrote. Meanwhile, many more categories of people, including Nazi party members, were exempted from gun ownership regulations altogether, while the legal age of purchase was lowered from 20 to 18, and permit lengths were extended from one year to three years.

The law did prohibit Jews and other persecuted classes from owning guns, but this should not be an indictment of gun control in general. Does the fact that Nazis forced Jews into horrendous ghettos indict urban planning? Should we eliminate all police officers because the Nazis used police officers to oppress and kill the Jews? What about public works — Hitler loved public works projects? Of course not. These are merely implements that can be used for good or ill, much as gun advocates like to argue about guns themselves. If guns don’t kill people, then neither does gun control cause genocide (genocidal regimes cause genocide).

Besides, Omer Bartov, a historian at Brown University who studies the Third Reich, notes that the Jews probably wouldn’t have had much success fighting back. “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?” he told Salon.

Proponents of the theory sometimes point to the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising as evidence that, as Fox News’ Judge Andrew Napolitano put it, “those able to hold onto their arms and their basic right to self-defense were much more successful in resisting the Nazi genocide.” But as the Tablet’s Michael Moynihan points out, Napolitano’s history (curiously based on a citation of work by French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson) is a bit off. In reality, only about 20 Germans were killed, while some 13,000 Jews were massacred. The remaining 50,000 who survived were promptly sent off to concentration camps.

Robert Spitzer, a political scientist who studies gun politics and chairs the political science department at SUNY Cortland, told Mother Jones’ Gavin Aronsen 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.

Meanwhile, much of the Hitler myth is based on an infamous quote falsely attributed to the Fuhrer, which extols the virtue of gun control:

This year will go down in history! For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!

The quote has been widely reproduced in blog posts and opinion columns about gun control, but it’s “probably a fraud and was likely never uttered,” according to Harcourt. “This quotation, often seen without any date or citation at all, suffers from several credibility problems, the most significant of which is that the date often given [1935] has no correlation with any legislative effort by the Nazis for gun registration, nor would there have been any need for the Nazis to pass such a law, since gun registration laws passed by the Weimar government were already in effect,” researchers at the useful website GunCite note.

“As for Stalin,” Bartov continued, “the very idea of either gun control or the freedom to bear arms would have been absurd to him. His regime used violence on a vast scale, provided arms to thugs of all descriptions, and stripped not guns but any human image from those it declared to be its enemies. And then, when it needed them, as in WWII, it took millions of men out of the Gulags, trained and armed them and sent them to fight Hitler, only to send back the few survivors into the camps if they uttered any criticism of the regime.”

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.

He continued: “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.”

 

By: Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon, January 11. 2013

January 12, 2013 Posted by | Gun Violence, Guns | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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