In an age where degeneracy is a television programming strategy, and the gifts of God – things like life and liberty – are largely considered disposable, it doesn't pay to be easily shocked. Shock clouds the thinking, slows the hand, blunts the will. But every now and then, however callused or inured to the base state of the world one may imagine oneself to be, one finds that shock is still possible.
So I was, I confess, shocked when I read Alex Seitz-Wald’s piece in today’s Salon Magazine. Purporting to take on the historical inaccuracy of those who would compare modern gun control efforts to those in the middle of the last century in Germany, Seitz-Wald sets out an analysis in which he submits that Adolf Hitler’s regime actually loosened gun laws for most Germans – excepting only those who were also objects of the Final Solution. Thus, Seitz-Wald argues Hitler's targeted gun ban just isn't an apposite argument for gun rights advocates.
"The law did prohibit Jews and other persecuted classes from owning guns, but this should not be an indictment of gun control in general. Does the fact that Nazis forced Jews into horrendous ghettos indict urban planning?*"
If that were all Seitz-Wald had said, I’d just have considered him a sarcastic, silly, intellectually dishonest hack. Nothing shocking in that. But that’s not all he said. It’s what followed that left me gasping, angry, sad. Seitz-Wald went on to argue that, as it happened, guns wouldn't have done Jews much good anyway, what with the efficiency of the German war machine and the depth of the Nazi’s commitment to genocide, so what matter if Jews were -- or, presumably, you are -- prohibited from having them. In support, he suggests we consider the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, where some Jews did manage to get a hold of firearms and used them to contend for their lives. The math there was pretty simple, Seitz-Wald points out:
"In reality, only about 20 Germans were killed, while some 13,000 Jews were massacred. The remaining 50,000 who survived were promptly sent off to concentration camps."
Thus Seitz-Wald’s core premise is that there is no difference between, on the one hand, passively and helplessly submitting to the extermination of yourself and your entire people, and, on the other, dying while resisting that extermination. I cannot recall reading a more degenerate, dehumanizing and tragic statement anywhere, ever.
That it should come to this, that an American who rises and sleeps under the veil of liberty** for which millions have sacrificed their lives, could entertain such a sentiment – or could put it in writing – or could see it published – inclines me toward despair for this nation and its people.
Many of Robert’s Rules shouldn't really need stating at all. I’d have thought that “Morals Matter More Than Math,” would have been among those.
One moral choice a human being is sometimes afforded, one moment that matters a lot, is how one dies. Not that we all are given the opportunity to die well: circumstances or evil men can render our death humiliating, or irrelevant, or random, or ironic, or even comic. Not that all those given such an opportunity do the best with it: courage fails, will weakens; we disgrace ourselves. But man is the only animal who knows that he will die, who can grasp at all what dying means. Thus every man who wishes to hold himself even a bit above the animals knows that it matters how he dies.
Or so I would have thought.
A Prime Minister of Israel once told me: "Do you know what it means that there is an Israel? It means this: It means that if there had been an Israel in 1942, and if Israel had an air force, and if the air force of the state of Israel consisted of one rickety biplane, the pilot of that biplane would have died bombing the railroad track to Auschwitz. That's what the state of Israel means -- and end to powerlessness."
I don't think this man suffered from an inability to figure arithmetic, or was ignorant of effective military tactics. I would have liked for Seitz-Wald to have spoken to that man.
But I have a feeling it wouldn't have done much good.
* The italics are Seitz-Wald's. I tend to read that sentence as "[Well OK-- sure -- whatever -- if you want to be technical about it -- yeah] the law did prohibit to Jews. . . "
** Due credit to Col. Nathan R. Jessup.
** Due credit to Col. Nathan R. Jessup.