Alaska’s congressional delegation is having quite the time on gun violence this last week.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski carefully sidestepped talking about guns entirely during her address to the Alaska Legislature last Thursday. Sen. Dan Sullivan had his Tipper Gore moment on Monday, wondering if video games and movies were to blame for mass shootings.
But the cake has to go to Rep. Don Young, who not only outdid his colleagues on their talking points, but took it quite a few steps further by suggesting at the Alaska Municipal League meeting last week that guns would have thwarted the Holocaust.
“How many millions of people were shot and killed because they were unarmed? Fifty million in Russia,” Young said, in a video of the event. “How many Jews were put in the ovens because they were unarmed?”
Alaska Public Media reported on the comments yesterday, noting that the recording of the event was provided by Democratic challenger Dimitri Shein, who crashed the Alaska Municipal League meeting last week to challenge Young on guns. Shein’s not a member of the Alaska Municipal League and his appearance caused a bit of a stir.
In addition to the Holocaust, Young also hits on just about every other Republican talking point on guns by mentioning violent video games (like Sullivan), mental health (like Murkowski) and arming teachers (something neither Murkowksi nor Sullivan have endorsed).
Here’s the other things that Young said during the exchange.
- “We killed over 4,000 people this year already by people driving drunk in cars. I don’t see anyone saying the cars did it. It was the drunk.”
- “Let’s go back to what we’ve done with video games. Has anyone seen of those video games? Have you watched what they’re watching? It’s the worst I’ve ever seen, it’s violence beyond anyone’s imagination.”
- “When somethings happen it’s easy to blame an object, why don’t we look at the mental concept and the family structure?”
- “By the way I support guns on teachers.” (To which he got an amen from the AML audience).
- “Very frankly I care, because my goal is to make sure my family is not attacked by some idiot.”
- “Let’s ban the AR-15, then what else are you going to ban? The pistol, the shotgun, then all long rifles, then slingshots and bows and arrows?”
The Anti-Defamation League has frequently sought to counter arguments like Young’s that suggest arming civilians would have somehow stopped the military might of the Third Reich, calling the comments a “distortion history itself.” The ADL also notes that there were thousands civilians who took up arms against the Nazis–both Jews and gentiles.
“This historical second-guessing is deeply offensive to Jews, Holocaust survivors and those who valiantly fought against Hitler during World War II. It is, in fact, as many historians have previously noted, a distortion of history itself,” wrote Jonathan Greenblatt, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, in a 2015 post responding to comments made by Ben Carson. “Guns or lack of them did not cause the Holocaust. The Holocaust was the product of anti-Semitism and the moral failure and indifference of humans.”
Can we be rational about guns? Doesn’t appear to be the case. Private gun ownership in European countries prior to WW2 was limited just as it is now. Young’s bumper sticker approach lacks any realistic understanding of what happened in the Holocaust. In Alaska nobody who advocates gun control of any sort will be elected to office. Alaska is about guns, abortion, and sticking it to the public schools. Anything else, such as the budget, is irrelevant.
I personally knew an ex German soldier who had an Iron Cross. He voiced the same opinion as Congressman Young. He was also very anti war and had nothing positive to say about Hitler or
the Nazis. He, like most soldiers, was a victim of his government. He had insomnia and nightmares related to the war all his life.
“The Jews had only 10 handguns, but the Germans did not realize how under-armed the Jewish fighters were.
After four days of fighting, the Germans on January 21 pulled back from the ghetto, to organize better. A diary written in the Warsaw ghetto exulted, “In the four days of fighting we had made up for the shame of Jewish passivity in the first extermination action of July, 1942.” [Ber Mark, “The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising,” in “They Fought Back” ed., Yuri Suhl (N.Y.: Paperback Library, 1968; 1st pub. 1967), pp. 104-06].