It would be hard to find a more ignorant statement—or more accurately, a more ignorant misstatement—of history than this misshapen deposit from the muddled cloaca of low level electrical discharges that pass for the intellect of former New Jersey state trial judge Andrew P. Napolitano:
The historical reality of the Second Amendment’s protection of the right to keep and bear arms is not that it protects the right to shoot deer. It protects the right to shoot tyrants, and it protects the right to shoot at them effectively, thus, with the same instruments they would use upon us. If the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto had had the firepower and ammunition that the Nazis did, some of Poland might have stayed free and more persons would have survived the Holocaust. (Emphasis added.) Andrew P. Napolitano, “Guns and freedom,” January 10, 2013, FoxNews.com, http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/01/10/guns-and-freedom/#ixzz2J6aV0NUe.
It is hard to see how—even if they were the most well-armed Jews in the world—the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto could have saved even an inch of Poland. By the time Jews of Warsaw were forced into the ghetto in October 1940, Poland’s not inconsiderable army had been defeated and the entire country occupied by the Nazis and Soviet forces (briefly allies) for over a year!
Napolitano, invested with the magnificent title of “senior judicial analyst” (do ermine-trimmed robes come with that?) is one of Fox News’ “experts” in counter-factual ideological hot air. He quite clearly, however, has no clue about the actual history of the Holocaust, the actual history of the brutal conquest of Poland in September 1939, nor does he know what actually happened in the Warsaw Ghetto and when it happened. Nor does he appear to have any idea of the actual firepower of even the most mundane military forces today. So far as his official biography at Fox News goes, Napolitan has no military service and no experience in armed combat. In sum, he is a windbag running on fumes when it comes to guns.
Like many Fox News “experts,” Napolitano seems only interested in emitting his pathetically one-dimensional debating points.
Okay, given that, what is so terribly wrong with his ignorant verborrhea, his reckless throwing around of words that are somehow in this dimmest of bulbs vaguely related to the most serious mass murder in history?
- It fundamentally disrespects the murdered victims of the Holocaust. Such argumentative misstatements reduce the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust to dehumanized cartoon figures. Disconnected from truth, those victims become merely convenient Jews to be propped up with a sort of faux sympathy on the battlefield of ideology. This is the intellectual equivalent of the hatefully anti-Semitic and stereotypical cartoon figures published by the odious Nazi propaganda rag Der Sturmer.
- It vandalizes the real history of the Holocaust, smearing a coarse coating of opaque disinformation over the truth. That obscurantism makes it much more difficult for people of good faith to understand and to learn from the terrible truths of the Holocaust.
- It encourages the same sort of widespread armed disorder that existed during the Weimar Republic and out of which the Nazi movement grew. For all their bleating about Hitler and Stalin, the ignorant, irresponsible and only slightly veiled calls to violence emitted by Napolitano, Glenn Beck and other of his soul mates in the gun lobby are the precise analog of the political thuggery that laid the foundation for the assumption of power by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Their reckless talk encourages unbalanced extremists to shoot at local cops and other “faces of government.”
Whom exactly is Andrew Napolitano suggesting that his followers shoot? Another county judge? A police officer? A governor? A senator? A member of the National Command Authority? Put up or shut up, Andrew.
The Actual History
The German Jews. As noted in Part I of this three-part series, Napolitano and other commentators are either thoroughly confused about, or entirely ignorant of, what happened in Germany during the Nazi era. They apparently believe that the Nazis seized power at a discrete moment in a kind of violent coup, a moment at which armed Jews in Germany would have been able to “shoot them effectively” in Napolitano’s inelegant phrasing, if only they had had guns.
Wholly aside from the fact that the imbalances of firepower would have been such that the Jews would have been instantly crushed (see below, “The Jews of Poland and Eastern Europe”), there was simply was no such moment for armed resistance. Hitler was legally invited to power. Jews represented .75% of the German population. Most of the other 99.25% of the German population were down with the Nazi program. Moreover, it was almost impossible prospectively to believe that the Nazi regime would take the horrific course it did.
Jews were in fact subjected to an increasingly oppressive “cold pogrom” during the years between 1933 and the invasion of Poland. In January 1933, some 522,000 Jews by religious definition lived in Germany. Over half of these individuals, approximately 304,000 Jews, emigrated during the first six years of the Nazi dictatorship, leaving approximately 214,000 Jews in Germany proper (1937 borders) on the eve of the Second World War. Long before the Nazis began the systematic deportation of German Jews in October 1941 — almost eight years after Hitler came to power — the violent regime was thoroughly installed and enjoyed the support of the German masses. Jews had been effectively erased from the public’s consciousness. In all, the Germans and their collaborators killed between 160,000 and 180,000 German Jews in the Holocaust, including most of those Jews deported out of Germany. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, “German Jews during the Holocaust, 1939–1945,” http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005469.
The Jews of Poland and Eastern Europe. Many gun lobby commentators who play the Holocaust card appear to be completely ignorant of the fact that most of the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust were actually from Poland and other East European nations. (There were others of course, from wherever the Nazi tide spread, often given up by conquered governments after their armies were thrashed by the German forces.)
The Jews of Poland did in fact have armed protection. It was called the Polish Army. When fully mobilized the Poles could potentially field an armed force of some 2.5 million men in 1939. The Jews of the other parts of Eastern Europe that the Nazis rolled over also had armed protection. It was called the Red Army. The Jews of France who were surrendered to the Nazis had armed protection, the French Army, as did the surrendered Jews of the Channel Islands, the British Army.
Contrary to popular opinion in blighted quarters, the Polish Army was not a “push over” for the more powerfully armed Nazi forces when the latter invaded Poland in September 1939:
Publicly, the Nazis liked to give the impression that, in the words of the American Naval Attaché, ‘the Poles’ performance had been pitiable and inspired nothing but contempt in the German Army’, but, as the Germans themselves knew, the reality was rather different. All in all, a French military report on the war was correct when it observed that ‘with equality of material the Polish troops were always superior to the enemy’.
Essentially, however, the Poles fought with great courage and tenacity. Had there been near equality in tanks and planes between them and the Wehrmacht, the story might have been very different. As Zaloga and Madej point out, ‘it should not be forgotten that the Polish Army fought for nearly five weeks against the full weight of the Wehrmacht and later the Red Army, even though it was substantially outnumbered. In contrast, the British, French, Belgian and Dutch armies, which outnumbered the Wehrmacht in men, tanks and aircraft […] held out for only a few weeks more’. The Polish record in Warsaw, Modlin, Hel and Westerplatte was second to none. The Poles managed to inflict considerable casualties on the Germans: 16,000 killed and 32,000 wounded, while they knocked out 674 tanks, 217 of which were destroyed. The small and outdated Air Force, combined with ground defences, also managed to destroy, at a conservative estimate, about 220 Luftwaffe planes. The cavalry, far from indulging in useless deeds of derring-do, were often used effectively. Armed with anti-tank rifles and dismounted, cavalrymen were able to surprise and destroy German armoured units. Williamson, David G. (2012-09-20). Poland Betrayed: The Nazi-Soviet Invasions of 1939 (Campaign Chronicles) Casemate Publishers. Kindle Edition.
It is impossible to imagine what greater armed force the Jews of Poland and Eastern Europe could have had than that possessed by the professional armies of Poland, France, and England —not to mention those of the Red Army of the Soviet Union that was rolled back practically to Moscow when Hitler turned on his erstwhile ally in 1941. Tanks? Aircraft? What?
Napolitano’s Goofy and Totally Inaccurate Timeline
Napolitano’s fact-free reference to the Warsaw Ghetto betrays a pitifully confused understanding of the actual sequence of events. Poland was already thoroughly defeated and long since occupied by Nazi forces before the Warsaw Ghetto even came into existence.
Napolitano’s fantastic declaration that “some of Poland might have stayed free” if Jews had guns is absurd. What planet’s history has this man studied?
Here’s a recap of what actually happened. (See, http://www.ushmm.org/outreach/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007706.)
- Defeat of Poland, September 1939. Millions of Jews lived in eastern Europe. After Germany invaded Poland in 1939, more than two million Polish Jews came under German control. Many millions more were to fall under Nazi control with the invasion of the Soviet Union.
- October 12, 1940. Warsaw Jews Ordered Into Ghetto. A year after the defeat of Poland and its army, the Germans announced the establishment of a ghetto in Warsaw. All Jewish residents of Warsaw were ordered into the designated area, which was sealed off from the rest of the city in November 1940. More than 350,000 Jews—about 30 percent of the city’s population—were confined in about 2.4 percent of the city’s total area.
- July 22, 1942. Warsaw Jews Deported To Treblinka Killing Center. Between July 22 and mid-September 1942 – three years after the defeat of the Polish army and imposition of Nazi control over all of Poland, and one year after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, more than 300,000 people were deported from the Warsaw ghetto: more than 250,000 of them were deported to the Treblinka killing center.
- April 19, 1943. Jewish Fighters Resist Germans In Warsaw Ghetto. The Germans decide to eliminate the Warsaw ghetto and announce new deportations in April 1943, almost four years after the fall of Poland. The renewal of deportations sparked an armed uprising within the ghetto. Most people in the ghetto refused to report for deportation. Many hid from the Germans in previously prepared bunkers and shelters. Jewish fighters battled the Germans in the streets and from hidden bunkers. The Germans set fire to the ghetto to force the population into the open, reducing the ghetto area to rubble. On May 16, 1943, the battle was over. Thousands had been killed and most of the ghetto population was deported to forced-labor camps. The Warsaw ghetto uprising was the largest and most important Jewish uprising, and the first urban uprising in German-occupied Europe.
In the next part, Fairly Civil explores the well-financed hidden hands behind the foolish prattle that Napolitano and others in the right-wing propaganda machinery spew.