02 March 2010

Holocaust: Guns & Jews

Stephen Kershnar
Guns, Jews, and the Holocaust
Dunkirk-Fredonia Observer
March 2, 2010

On April 12, 2010, many Jews around the world will celebrate Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah). Among the purposes of the holiday is to understand why the Holocaust happened and what can be done to avoid such slaughter in the future. The Holocaust has a central feature in the Jewish life. It played a large role in the creation of Israel and occupies a central space in the Jewish psyche.

The Nazi horrors are well known. The standard figure is that the Nazis killed roughly 6 million Jews. At death camps like Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Belzec, the murder ran with clocklike precision. The prisoners were efficiently unloaded from trains. The majority’s clothes and other possessions were promptly taken and, in some camps, they were told that they were to take showers or be deloused. According to Auschwitz camp commandant Rudolph Hoss and others, the camps differed in the degree to which they fooled the Jews about what was happening. The Jews were then herded into airtight rooms into which was dumped a poison gas (for example, cyanide-poison Zyklon B). It took up to 20 minutes to die (one estimate was that about a third died immediately), depending on how close an individual was to the gas vent. Jewish prisoners then removed the bodies, took out their gold fillings and cut the women’s hair, and burned them in crematoria. The prisoners hoped that doing this dirty work made them useful and would thereby extend their lives. Burning hundreds of thousands of human bodies produced a foul and nauseating stench that permeated the surrounding towns. Hoss and others claimed that the surrounding communities knew exactly what was going on. Jews were not the only ones on the Nazi to-do list. They also slaughtered millions of Poles and Russians and hundreds of thousands of gays and Gypsies.

Holocaust-level slaughter is not unique. University of Hawaii Professor R. J. Rummel points out that in the 20th Century governments killed roughly 169 million people via mass murder and genocide. This is almost four times more than were killed during this time from international and civil wars and many more than were killed by criminals. Rummel’s ranking of murderous leaders in terms of the number of lives snuffed out is as follows: Joseph Stalin (USSR), Mao Tse-tung (China), Adolf Hitler (Germany), Chiang Kai-shek (China), Vladimir Illich Lenin (USSR), Tojo Hideki (Japan), and Pol Pot (Cambodia). Having two of the top four slaughterers, the Chinese were 30% of the slaughter victims and the current Chinese government is the one created by Mao’s revolution. The Cambodian slaughter was especially bloodthirsty because the communist Khmer Rouge probably slaughtered over 2 million people despite having a population of only about 7 million. The government killed roughly 8% of its population per year in power.

It’s not clear that the current U.S. government and stable European and Asian democracies pose much of a threat of mass murder and genocide. Nevertheless if the concern is to make sure that genocide never again happens, it is worth considering what these murderous regimes had in common. These countries all had socialist ideologies, an absence of democracy, and gun control. All but Hitler’s Germany and Tojo’s Japan were communist countries. Germany and Japan were socialist governments in the sense that the governments exercised a large degree of control over the country’s economy. With the possible exception of Germany, none of these governments arose from a democratic vote and none were democratic when they murdered civilians.

Aaron Zelman and Richard Stevens, authors of “Death by gun Control,” argue that all of these governments had gun-control laws in effect. This included registration and license requirements, bans on private ownership, government list of gun owners, and severe penalties for gun-law violations. For example, Germany under Hitler banned private gun ownership. Zelman and Stevens argue that that slaughter would accompany anti-gun laws is unsurprising. It’s much easier to round up and slaughter unarmed and defenseless people.

In the U.S., Jews have a strong tendency to vote for politicians who support centralizing economic power and imposing gun controls and prohibitions. For example, 77% of Jews voted for Obama. This voting pattern is not unusual. Roughly the same percentage voted for Kerry, Gore, and Clinton. The most high profile Jewish politicians are all on the far left. Examples include Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and big-government independents Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT). These senators enthusiastically supported the government takeover of car and banking companies, increasing government control of medicine, and judges who deny that the Constitution protects an individual’s right to own guns. For example, Jewish Supreme Court justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) that Americans do not have an individual right to own guns. Surprisingly, older Jews (55 and over) appear to have been more likely to support Obama than younger ones (35 and under).

After blacks, Jews are the most liberal ethnic or racial group. They are even more liberal than union members and some academic departments. Leftist Jews might argue that the degree to which they support socializing the American economy is not remotely close to that found in the murderous regimes and that the sort of gun control they support will do little to disarm the American populace. In 2000, the FBI estimated that in the U.S., 60 million people own guns and they own over 200 million of them. Alternatively, they might argue that the risk of genocide in the U.S. is so negligible that other values (for example, social justice) are more important. These arguments are not implausible. If so, then the Jewish voting pattern is consistent with their continuing focus on the Holocaust and celebration of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Genocide continues. In 1994 in Rwanda, roughly 11% of the country’s population (800,000 Tutsis and Hutu moderates) were killed, many with machetes. In Sudan, more slaughter. The Bashir government disarmed non-Arab groups in 1989. The Sudanese military and the Janjaweed, a Sudanese Arab militia group, have slaughtered large numbers of black Africans in Sudan, particularly in Darfur, where an estimated 400,000 have been slaughtered. Sure enough, the general pattern repeats itself. According to the Cato Institute’s Dave Kopel, in Sudan the totalitarian government made it virtually impossible for private citizens, specifically black Africans, to buy or own guns. Given this and other disasters that are sure to come, the failure of the international community, particularly the United Nations, to push for gun ownership has made populations increasingly vulnerable to such attacks. Perhaps if the international community, and those who love liberty, were to revisit the anti-gun policies that hamstring vulnerable populations, the chance of mass murder will be reduced.


傻眼 said...


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