Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, famous for being the first person to give himself a lobotomy, will not stop talking about the Nazis. Pretty much everyone in the political world wants him to shut up about the Nazis and focus on the non-Hitler parts of his campaign platform, but Carson is a man obsessed.
He dropped by CNN last week and tried explaining to Wolf Blizter that the Holocaust might not have happened had someone with a gun had just stood up to Adolf Hitler.
This was an elaboration of an argument Carson laid out in his new book, “A More Perfect Union”:
German citizens were disarmed by their government in the late 1930s, and by the mid-1940s Hitler’s regime had mercilessly slaughtered six million Jews and numerous others whom they considered inferior… Through a combination of removing guns and disseminating deceitful propaganda, the Nazis were able to carry out their evil intentions with relatively little resistance.
As can be expected coming from a Republican presidential candidate, Carson’s version of history is exactly backwards. Gun access in Germany was tightly restricted by the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, however the restrictions were loosened in 1928 and 1938 (for non-Jews). Also, there were in fact instances of organized armed resistance to the Nazis, like the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising, which was crushed by the better-armed and better-trained forces of the Third Reich.
If there was one thing the Nazis were really good at, it was using violence to their advantage. The fact of the matter is that it took the most powerful armies in the world half a decade to dislodge Hitler and the Nazis from power. And Ben Carson expects us to believe that the German citizenry could have thwarted Hitler and his fanatical, militarized regime with lugers and hunting rifles?
But Carson insists that he is in the right, he keeps returning to the Hitler example because he thinks it provides a powerful cautionary tale that bolsters the increasingly mainstream conservative view that gun ownership serves as the ultimate check against a tyrannical federal government.
Despite his apparent belief to the contrary, all this Nazi talk is bad for Carson. Instead of talking about what Ben Carson plans to do as president, he has us talking about Hitler. He’s the Hitler guy in the 2016 campaign.
Generally speaking you don’t want to be the Hitler guy.