Brief Thoughts on Guns and the Holocaust

One of this week’s outbreaks of mass psychosis concerned Ben Carson’s claim that Jews could have “greatly diminished” the Holocaust if they had been armed en masse. At National Review, Charles C.W. Cooke has written the perfect response to the controversy, fairly critiquing Carson’s position while also going after his preening critics. Here’s a snippet:

Before getting into the details of this claim, I must confess to being unsure as to why the mere mention of this era offends people as keenly as it does. In his comments, Carson was presenting a counterfactual hypothesis. Maybe it’s a bad one and he’s wrong. Maybe it’s a good one and he’s right. But why the anger? If you don’t like his case — or you think it’s stupid — then explain why he’s incorrect. Don’t freak out just because he said the word “Nazi.” Godwin’s law exists to mock those who refer to the Third Reich when it doesn’t apply. It’s not a general prohibition on the discussion of Nazism.

My own brief thoughts are as follows. Carson likely has no idea what he’s talking about with regard to the history of the Third Reich. But it seems to me he was aiming for a general point, namely that if you are a member of an ethnic group targeted for extermination you are better off with guns than without. The unhinged response to his comments shows that his critics wish to repudiate not just his historical judgment but the broader moral point he was making.

It is one thing to think that a well armed Jewish population would not have been able to overthrow the Nazi government or prevent the mass slaughter of its own people: I would agree with this, as does Cooke. It is quite another thing to think that Jews ipso facto ought to have remained unarmed. There were some people, in the swamps of Twitter and elsewhere, who appeared to believe so.

Is it really so awful, so gauche, so deserving of mass outrage and ostracism, to think that people who were gassed and cremated might have been better off with weapons, if only on an individual level? Are some people so opposed to private gun ownership they would turn this general point into the latest Opinion That Must Not Be Held?

What do you think?

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