03 December 2009

astroturfed Genocide

The ridiculous "Gun Control results in genocide" "argument" is a lovely case of an specious argument astroturfing the playing field with rubbish. You know the list I'm talking about since googling "Gun Control Genocide" will turn up about 60 million results with that list reprinted verbatim. No need to give it any more power in the rankings.

On the other hand, Matthew White compiled the list Which has killed more people: Gun Control or Christianity? that begins to tear apart this argument. I reposted it at Gun control and Genocides with some additions made to the Holocaust section. I am going to add even more to show that the Guns could have saved the Jews proposition is straight off horseshit.

I am surprised that Matthew's list doesn't get the attention it deserves. The "gun cotnrol leads to genocide argument" is pretty silly when you think about it.

As Matthew points out "whoever compiled this tally has a different definition of defenseless than I do. I myself wouldn't declare the largest military machine on the planet "unable to defend itself", but by adding 20 million from the Soviet Union, this list does. After all, Stalin's most infamous terror fell heavily on the Soviet Army, culling tens of thousand of officers, and executing three out of five marshals, 15 out of 16 army commanders, 60 out of 67 corps commanders and 136 out of 199 division commanders. In one bloody year, the majority of the officer corps was led away quietly and shot. It may be one of life's great mysteries as to why the Red Army allowed itself to be gutted that way, but obviously, lack of firepower can't be the reason."

Matthew points out that "this list of alleged genocides is a pitifully weak argument against gun control, simply because most of the victims listed here did fight back. In fact, if there's a real lesson to be learned from this roster of oppressions, it's that sometimes a heavily armed and determined opposition is just swept up and crushed -- guns or no guns."

Yeah, yeah, there is the example of the Bielski partisans who were made famous by the film Defiance. You can debate as to how effective they were at armed resistance or whether they were the heros depicted by the film. The real lesson that should be learned was that it wasn't their arms that protected them, but the fact that they hid in the forests:
By the early spring of 1942, the brothers managed to form what was called an Otriad (a partisan detachment), which initially consisted of their immediate surviving relatives and close friends. Over the next three years, approximately 1200 Jews came into their Otriad. In contrast to Russian partisan units and many of the other Jewish units that restricted participation to young men capable of fighting, the Bielski’s took in any Jew who sought their help and actively helped liberate Jews from nearby ghettos to join the unit...

At its height, the Otriad camp consisted of long, camouflaged dugouts for sleeping, a large kitchen, a mill, a bakery, a bathhouse, two medical facilities, a tannery, a school, a jail, and a theater. Tailors, seamstresses, shoemakers, watchmakers, carpenters, mechanics, and experts in demolition provided the 1200-member community with necessary skills, and about sixty cows and thirty horses provided food and transportation.

Many of the men served as part of the armed contingent which secured food and engaged in sabotage and even the murder of Germans officials, while many others, including the women, the elderly, and the handicapped received the benefits of the community which protected them, despite the difficulties they presented when it was necessary to travel to new locations.

The Jewish Daily Newspaper Forward points out in its article, Bielskis vs. Hollywood that The Bielski brothers engaged in violence out of necessity, but the nobility of their enterprise is that they preserved lives:
Tuvia was fortunate in choosing the more difficult path — in fact, not a path at all, but a deep marsh — rather than a more inviting route lined with fallen logs, which proved unsafe. The greater human drama was in persevering for a week in an epic trek through the swamp, not in fighting and winning a battle at the end, as the filmmaker chose to depict in his re-creation of the story.

The awesome achievement of the Bielskis to save so many innocents otherwise doomed is cheapened by the image of Hollywood heroes mowing down the enemy, as we’ve seen before in scores of World War II movies. These real heroes had to kill at times, but their story deserves more than a war movie.

In contrast, actual armed resistance by Jews led to mass anihilation. Despite being vastly outgunned and outnumbered, some Jews in ghettos and camps did resist the Germans with force. The failure to halt the genocidal policies of the Nazis has pretty much left Jewish resistance as a footnote to the holocause. For example, The the largest single revolt by the Jews during the Holocaust, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, was crushed by the Militarily superior German forces: Casualties and losses during this uprising were 17 Germans killed and 93 wounded Versus 13,000 Jews killed and 56,885 captured. The captured Jews were sent to Treblinka. So much for armed resistance.

Some people forget that inhabitants in the ghettos of Vilna, Mir, Lachva (Lachwa), Kremenets, Czestochowa, Nesvizh, Sosnowiec, and Tarnow, among others, resisted with force when the Germans began to deport ghetto populations. In Bialystok, the underground staged an uprising just before the final destruction of the ghetto in September 1943. Research into Jewish Resistance during the holocaust pretty much repeats the message that The Jews knew that uprisings would not stop the Germans and that only a handful of fighters would succeed in escaping to join the partisans. Still, some Jews made the decision to resist. Most of the ghetto fighters, primarily young men and women, died during the fighting. Unfortunately, this resistance did little to stop the German genocide.

We can add in that Iraqis and Afghans are armed to the teeth, yet this didn't stop the rise of Saddam Hussein or the Taliban.

Matthew has "what I call the Cold-Dead-Hands Test. If the only way to get someone's gun is to pry it from their cold, dead hands (literally or figuratively), that's not gun control. When Grant disarmed the Confederates at Appomattox, that wasn't gun control; that was taking prisoners. When the Soviets disarmed the remnants of the German 6th Army at Stalingrad, that wasn't gun control either. Mao didn't come to power in China by tricking the populace into surrendering their arms. He pummeled his well-armed opponents in a stand-up fight. There's a big difference between unable to fight back, and fighting back but losing."

It's nice being able to dream of stopping the mistakes of the past with force. It's a romantic idea to die fighting "tyranny" (whatever that means). But you have to remember that heavily armed and determined opposition sometimes is just swept up and crushed: guns or no guns. Everyone who wanted a gun already had a gun in the list of "gun control victims". The enemies of the state who were killed in that list weren't defenseless; they were just plain beaten.