Ok, so we all agree that it’s a party foul to argue Ad Hitlerum. People just see Hitler and tune out the rest of the argument. That’s a shame because not all Hitler-speak is hyperbolic idiocy. If you can look past the little man who became larger than life because of his evil, there is a lot to be learned from the intricate history of Interbellum* Germany. Ben Carson is a politician who has said what many Conservatives consider to be the wrong things on gun control and 2nd Amendment Rights in the past. He attempted to demonstrate greater solidarity with gun owners against the state by bringing out Hitler as the Big Government Boogey Man on Gun Control. Wolf Blitzer and CNN typically don the pom-poms to cheer for Big Government as the home team. Any mention of Big Government in connection to Hitler will be strictly verboten. Bear with me while I argue that Carson had a valid and important point in using Hitler to push Big Leftism’s idiot button.
Ben Carson makes an interesting philosophical argument about gun control. He points out that gun control is step one anytime a tyrant wants to take over and lock down a population. It’s perhaps unfortunate that he choose the Holocaust as an example. He claimed that Hitler would have had a much harder time tyrannizing the German and Polish Jews had these people been armed. I’m of the opinion that he has a point. Hitler’s evil would have been exposed far earlier and opposed far more vociferously in the West had it been illumined in a blaze of gunfire. Private firearm ownership wouldn’t have stopped the Holocaust, but it wouldn’t have made it anywhere near as inexpensive or easy for Western leaders to ignore early on.
The usual cynics will pipe up. You can’t fight City Hall, RMJ. Take “Red Dawn” out of your DVD-player and use it as a beer coaster instead. “Wolverines!” What this really means is that the cynics don’t want RMJ or anyone else to fight City Hall. Big Government requires a docile populace to ever have a chance of being effective. Gun ownership has a political and emotional symbolism that goes far beyond whether a homesteader has a last line of defense for when seconds count and the local sheriff is 45 minutes away. A family that has a gun, owns its own property and can grow its own food does not rely on the state as completely as the state would desire. This sort of independence, even when exercised in a humble, quiet, manner will rankle the Leviathan and its paranoid Apparatchiks.
Thus, we get the aggressive hot-stove reaction to any mention of Hitler as a symbol of the totalitarian state. People who like totalitarian states or who at least believe the one they live under is under empowered will always resent seeing state power shown as the epitome of evil. To admit Hitler can represent the power of the state is to undermine a vast array of euphemisms.
Hitler demonstrated that Big Government can be greedy, bellicose, racist, sexist, homophobic, and domineering. This is everything that the supporters and self-interested beneficiaries of government largesse attempt to argue Big Government exists to prevent. They hold government out as the public standard of decency and honor. And in fairness to the good Civil Servants out there that still exist, this is exactly what a decent and worthy bureaucrat tries to achieve. “Close enough for government work” used to be intended as a sincere compliment.
But the opponents of the total state note correctly that even the noble many cannot undo the damage of a corrupt and powerful few. It is better to forefend evil such as Hitler by never agglomerating the power in a state to round up a hated minority and ship them to a concentration camp to begin with. Nothing symbolizes this evil more dramatically than Adolf Hitler.
Nothing symbolizes the opposition to this evil more dramatically than the private ownership of firearms. When the people are trusted with both property ownership and the right to manage lethal violence within their own property line, they are effectively minor nobles. Populist demagogues talk about every man being a king and no man wearing a crown. The 2nd Amendment and rights to private property do more to make this possible in America than any politician’s version of hope and change. Nothing symbolizes the negative side of that hope and change more radically than the iconography represented by Adolf Hitler.
Perhaps Ben Carson is a smarter and smoother Politico than I previously estimated. His references to gun control and Hitler are perhaps limited in historical accuracy. There was a gun control edict in Nazi Germany at or around the same year in which the US Congress and FDR agreed to gun control laws here in the US. That may or may not have effectively prevented a well-armed Jewish ghetto uprising from humiliating Adolf Hitler and exposing his diabolical evil to the world at an earlier date. But by juxtaposing Hitler and Gun Control, Carson calls up a mental image of the government as a gang of confiscatory Nazis forcing us to give up a little bit of liberty for a little bit of security. Our Founding Fathers warned us that this would turn out badly in the end. Perhaps the proper response to this really is “Wolverines!” Ben Carson deserves credit for exposing this through dramatic analogy.
*-Interbellum meaning post-WWI and pre-WWII.