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“Amnesia Peddled As Blithe Counter-History”: Ben Carson Is Wrong About The Holocaust; Jews Did Fight Back

Wolf Blitzer, the improbably named CNN personality, is no one’s idea of an adroit interviewer. His questions have a certain Dada quality, strings of declarative fragments that seem to have been cut and pasted at random. Ben Carson, the suddenly notable presidential candidate, is a slightly better interviewee, if only because, if you can get past his sleepily anodyne delivery, he is almost guaranteed to say something oblivious, terrifying, or both. Carson’s campaign is Your Older Relative’s Facebook timeline, a series of utterly fantastic claims and propositions presented as the commonest sense. It seemed unlikely that Blitzer, in a Thursday interview, would shake anything loose that wasn’t already rattling around under the hood of the Carson express.

So it came as a surprise when the Internet lit up with word that Blitzer had nabbed Carson’s most improbable claim yet, that “the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed.” But Thursday was not the first time Carson has made this claim.

One of the weirder rituals of the American presidential campaign is the production of the campaign book. These tend to be widely purchased but little read. Their titles echo lyrics of patriotic songs or pull-quotes from historic American oratory. They’re little more than invitations to cable news bookers who would’ve booked the candidates for interviews anyway. Well, Wolf’s producers actually combed through A More Perfect Union, Carson’s latest epistle to the American people, and they discovered the claim that one of the foundations of the Holocaust was civil disarmament.

Whatever else he may be, Ben Carson is not a rigorous thinker, and it’s unlikely he paused to clarify in his own mind whether it was all Germans who would’ve martialed a civic militia to sweep Hitler from power or just Germany’s Jews who would’ve shot their way to freedom like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The notion that private gun ownership prevents tyranny is more an article of faith than a thesis statement. It is worth noting that Hitler’s actual attempt at an armed putsch failed, and the Nazis only later came to power through democratic, parliamentary means. If it’s no longer in vogue to say that all Germans were “Hitler’s willing executioners,” then it’s still fair to note that the Nazis swiftly and effectively consolidated their power and achieved broad support in their country.

But Carson’s comments, thoughtless or no, touch on a troubling undercurrent in the popular Western mythology of the Holocaust: the notion of the Jews as universally passive victims who did not resist their own destruction. This image is amplified in the sentimental portrayals of the Holocaust in so much of our film and media, in which the Jewish victims of the Nazi killing machine are urban, intellectual, and assimilated: city people who would never own a gun or fight back. The shopkeepers and intellectuals and small industrialists are rounded up and packed off to their doom. At best, they hide, or some Schindler saves them.

Eastern Europe, in this narrative, remains vast and undifferentiated. That Jews, cosmopolitan and rural alike, did resist remains unremarked. This serves the American self-image as the singular vanquisher of Hitler’s regime, which was unstoppable and inexorable until our boys made the beachhead at Omaha. But, though it failed and was overwhelmed, there was active resistance in Nazi-conquered Europe throughout the war, and Jews were among the resisters. We do remember the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, but we forget that there was armed resistance throughout the ghettos of Poland and the occupied Soviet Union, more than one hundred instances in all. There were uprisings in the camps, in Treblinka and Sobibor and eventually in Auschwitz. Jews fought among partisan resisters in almost every country in occupied Europe. They formed their own partisan resistance groups, like the Bielski partisans in occupied Poland (now Belarus), often facing both German and Soviet forces.

This resistance was not successful. It reveals the lie in Carson’s real central claim. Armed citizens could not prevail against the might of the Wehrmacht. It required the combined power of the Western Allies and the Soviet Union to defeat Hitler, and even then at the cost of tens of millions of lives. But it also reveals the hateful and frankly anti-Semitic assumption that the Jews of Europe stumbled meekly to their own slaughter.

A grim irony is that the 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom was blamed on a Jew with a gun. Herschel Grynszpan, a Polish-German Jew living in Paris, upon learning of the expulsion of Polish Jews from Germany, bought a gun and bullets (quite legally), went to the German embassy, and assassinated the diplomat Ernst vom Rath. (An additional irony: Rath, though an anti-Semite himself, had expressed regret at the treatment and suffering of Jews.) A citizen with a gun became one of the gross pretexts on which the Nazis began their Final Solution.

As a Jew, I find it uncommonly disturbing to be treated as a delicate historical artifact that must be preserved under armed guard at all times. There are many Jews, and many kinds of Jews. To reduce us to no more than the point of our almost-destruction and then display us forever as a cautionary tale is worse even than hatred—it’s contempt. And using the Holocaust as a debating point in America’s endless Second Amendment tussle is bad enough without the additional implication that mass extermination is just the sort of thing that happens to people who don’t ammo-up and fight back. Ben Carson likely won’t become president, and we will all feel better about laughing on Twitter at his inanity. But there is a very real problem with amnesia peddled as blithe counter-history. It isn’t disarmament, after all, that makes history repeat, but forgetfulness.

 

By: Jacob Bacharach, The New Republic, October 9, 2015

October 11, 2015 Posted by | Ben Carson, Holocaust, Jews | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Huckabee And His Multiple Holocausts”: Pretending To Believe Your Political Opponents Are The Heirs Of Hitler

I’ve been observing for a good long while now that the sunny, optimistic Mike Huckabee of the 2008 presidential campaign cycle is way long gone, replaced by an angry and paranoid culture warrior who thinks of himself as leading a revolt of Real Americans against the decadent coasts–you know, the Sarah Palin lane over there on the far Right of the bowling alley.

But the dude’s really outdoing himself at the moment, making a complicated diplomatic initiative as simple as a gas chamber during an interview with the Breitbartians:

This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven. This is the most idiotic thing, this Iran deal. It should be rejected by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and by the American people. I read the whole deal. We gave away the whole store. It’s got to be stopped.

Whoa!

Huck’s very proud of his solidarity with Israel, a country he’s visited many times. But this time his zeal for the people destined to kick off the End of Times earned him a rebuke from the Anti-Defamation League, which polices inappropriate Holocaust analogies that cheapen memories of the real thing.

So why would he Go There?

Political analyst Barack Obama had this to say all the way over in Ethiopia (per ABC’s Arlette Saenz):

On his first day in Ethiopia, President Obama waded into the 2016 presidential campaign, criticizing Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee for suggesting the president is trying to push Israelis to the “door of the oven” with Iran nuclear deal.

“The particular comments of Mr. Huckabee are I think part of just a general pattern we’ve seen … that would be considered ridiculous if it weren’t so sad,” the president said in a news conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“Maybe this is just an effort to push Mr. Trump out of the headlines but it’s not the kind of leadership that’s needed for America right now,” the president added.

Alternatively, shouting about ovens is the sort of thing you’d expect from a candidate nervous about making the Fox News debate 10-candidate cutoff, which will be executed a week from tomorrow. At the moment, though, Huck is in a comfortable 5th place in the RCP polling averages. Maybe Huckabee’s trying to drown out and help shove off the stage some more endangered rivals for the Christian Right vote like Bobby Jindal and Rick Perry.

Or just maybe Huckabee really is an example of why the ADL needs to keep up its thankless task of warning pols away from Holocaust analogies. After all, Huck is a veteran of the Legalized Abortion Is a Holocaust meme, repeated most notably during his David Lane-faciliated tour of Europe and the Holy Land last year, designed to train conservative pastors and pols in how to emulate Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan in fighting the infernal forces of secularism and defending Greater Israel:

If you felt something incredibly powerful at Auschwitz and Birkenau over the 11 million killed worldwide and the 1.5 million killed on those grounds, cannot we feel something extraordinary about 55 million murdered in our own country in the wombs of their mothers?

So Huck sees Holocausts in every direction, all facilitated by the same Secular Socialist Evil Ones. And it’s a bit hard to stay off the hate train when you believe–or just pretend to believe–your political opponents are the heirs of Hitler.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 27, 2015

July 28, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Holocaust, Mike Huckabee | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

   

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