Monday, January 19, 2015
Some comments on the leftward state of academia .
Some comments on the leftward state of academia .
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
I have invaded Europe. My Ten Commandments of Propaganda has been translated and published in Polish. Please see: http://www.granice.pl/ksiazka,10-przykazan-propagandy,2271570
Thursday, November 13, 2014
American Gun and Book Review: Gun Control = People Control
Professor Brian Anse Patrick
University of Toledo
Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State,” Stephen P. Halbrook, Independent Institute, 2014, 247 pages.
A few years ago the American voluntary association, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, issued a poster showing Adolf Hitler giving the sieg heil salute and captioned: “All in favor of gun control raise your right hand.” A truism throughout America’s Gun Culture is that gun registration leads in time to confiscation, and confiscation to just about anything. Despite this generally held perception, few persons, however, are armed with particulars on how this slippery slope, lubricated by statist bureaucrats, came to operate under the centralized, collectivist state that we know as Nazi Germany. Since we Americans seem perhaps to be developing our own version of a collectivist state, it may benefit us to learn some lessons about how such things were done in the Fatherland.
Dr. Stephen Halbrook’s well-researched book provides the dreadful particulars. Oppressive controls blossomed under the Nazi regime, excepting of course for ranking Nazis who were allowed to purchase, own and carry guns. This led not only to mass confiscations but also quite directly to imprisonment and death for many Jews and other designated enemies of the state, who were seen as potential terrorists or “politically unreliable.” For example, the Nazis imprisoned in concentration camps approximately 20,000 Jews in the immediate aftermath of the government sponsored home invasions and weapon searches that took place on Reichskristallnacht, aka the “Night of Broken Glass,” on November 9-10 of 1938.
Halbrook documents the Nazi gun and people-control agenda with the aid of numerous, mainly primary source documents: diaries, letters, arrest records and memoranda of German police and bureaucrat-regulators, as they legalistically took advantage of open-ended legislation and the existence of registration lists to disarm those whom they considered politically or socially suspect. This meant Social Democrats, Communists and especially Jews, all of whom were systematically identified from registration lists kept by police agencies, who acted under directives from higher officials. Gypsies and other “wandering peoples” were also banned from gun ownership. In addition to gun permits, Jews saw their hunting licenses revoked.
All along, the Nazis had special plans for the Jews. The confiscation agenda included not only the searches of Jewish homes at or around Reichskristallnacht, but also Jewish homes and businesses were targeted by spontaneous “mobs” of the folk. In reality these were planned actions by SA (Sturmabteilung, aka Storm Troopers). Civil police had been ordered to stand aside, and did. Thousands of Jewish homes were searched for weapons and often looted by searchers. The fact that many Jews were German army military veterans of the First World War did not matter. Stabbing and hitting weapons, dirks, military swords, bayonets and even the knives used for kosher slaughter were banned and confiscated. The Nazis ever-legalistic officialdom had even engineered a devilish Catch 22 into the system: banned weapons became automatically property of the state, so that if a Jew had gotten rid of weapons that he once had, he was guilty of stealing from the state. In effect he couldn’t have a weapon and couldn’t not have it either.
Firearms banned under the earlier Weimer Republic gun controls included the military style assault weapons of the day, which in those days were Mauser 98 rifles and Luger Model 08 semiautomatic pistols. Much of this had to do with Germany’s uneasy political situation where communists, who had insurrection plans of their own, fought in the streets with nationalist factions. There was some provision for hunting and target weapons in the laws. Once the Nazis ascended, however, interpretations of the gun laws changed. Plus additional laws were decreed. Guns of all sorts were specifically banned for Jews. As of 1938 any Jew possessing a firearm was subject to 20 years imprisonment in a concentration camp, with no process of appeal, which meant, as Halbrook notes, that he would not be getting out until 1958 (if at all).
Attempted cooperation did not engender mercy or rational treatment. Halbrook personalizes his dread history with the sad example of Mr. Alfred Flatow, an 1896 gymnastics Olympic gold medal winner for Germany, who, as a Jew, surrendered his registered handguns and 22 rounds of ammunition in obedience with new 1938 law, and was then taken into custody by the Gestapo at the police station (noted on the arrest reports as the scene of the crime). Flatow died of starvation in a concentration camp in 1942. He earned this punishment through trying to obey the law, and of course by being a Jew.
It can’t happen here? Good question. Perhaps not in this exact same way, as a number of important differences exist between Nazi Germany and the U.S. political system, including a Bill of Rights and a Second Amendment, but there are worrisome similarities and trends too. Remember recently how the IRS acting apparently under orders of very high officials targeted conservative non-profit organizations for “special” treatment? Or how so-called Operation Choke Point has financially hampered businesses that have been administratively identified as suspect often, apparently, for the thought-crime of not agreeing with the social agendas of appointed officials? We also have at the moment an executive branch that enthusiastically enters into (hopefully) unratifiable treaties with centralist political organizations that oppose U.S. Constitutional rights, i.e., the U.N. Arms treaty.
In the matter of centralized American record keeping, for example, there are good reasons why the National Instant Check System, the computerized FBI-run background check into all purchasers from gun dealers, does not, allegedly, by law keep permanent records of sales. But digital data being what they are—transmissible, storable, penetrable, hideable—one always wonders about their capacity to ever truly disappear. Incidentally, most people, and some gun owners, seem unaware of the existence of NICS, which has been in operation since 1998 and which has conducted more than 100 million background checks on gun purchasers (So much for the mythology behind the current antigun slogan of “universal background checks”: such checks have been done for years). NICS aside, many states and police departments also maintain records of gun owners, especially handgun owners. And then there are hunting licenses, which in many states are electronically linked to voter registration lists. The inviolability of gun owners’ privacy rights thus becomes a questionable proposition.
The Nazis provide an early example of the avidity with which the bureaucratic minded seizes upon the latest data collection and processing methods. An IBM subsidiary, Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen Gellsellschaft, provided the punch cards and sorting systems used to sift and collate data on every person in the Reich. For those of you too young to have seen a punch card, it was a piece of paper cardstock about 4X6 inches used to record and collate data by means of little rectangular holes punched in specified areas. Jewishness was indicated by a punched out hole 3. Jews were also required to inventory their assets if they were over 5,000 marks, “yet another job for the punch card machines,” writes Halbrook. The Nazis even seized a Jewish owned firearms manufacturing firm.
Some leftist gun controllers have interpreted the German experience in astonishing ways. Authors Joshua Horowitz and Casey Anderson avowed that the big problem of Nazi Germany was lack of a strong centralized government that could have protected the Jews from the Nazis. This claim seems nonsensical on its face, i.e., instead of merely a totalitarian state would a mega-totalitarian state have achieved liberty? They also try to claim that the 1938 law represented a liberalization of gun policy (which it did, but only for the Nazis). Such considerations apparently didn’t stop University of Michigan Press from publishing their book, Guns, Democracy, and the Insurrectionist Idea (2004). The authors pooh-pooh the notion that a Second Amendment-like right of insurrection could have protected Germany’s Jews from the Nazis. And possibly they are right to some extent in this regard. As some of Halbrook’s documentation reveals, however, the Nazis themselves feared armed Jews or, for that matter, any possible armed or even informed domestic opposition. This is exactly why the Nazis set about disarming them. Authors/attorneys Horowitz and Anderson are professionally associated with the anti-gun movement, however, so I read them as making sophistic arguments on behalf of their primary client. Their book seems to be an example of what might be called attached scholarship. Horowitz is or was executive director of the DC-based Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, although the book blurb merely identifies him as a visiting public health scholar at Johns Hopkins. Anderson, listed only as a DC lawyer in private practice, also happened to be CSGV’s public affairs director. We probably should not be surprised, then, if their arguments seem strained.
The Nazis not only feared guns in the hands of victims or the politically unreliable, they also loathed uncoordinated (by themselves) social action and organizations. In this latter regard they were much like their totalitarian counterparts in the Soviet Union. If you recollect, Hannah Arendt lucidly demonstrated in her landmark Origins of Totalitarianism, that the bullies of the alleged left in Russia and the bullies of the alleged right, the Nazis or so-called fascists, were really essentially the same kind of bully, i.e., collectivist statists. In The Road to Serfdom F.A. Hayek identified the collectivist statist mindset as an essentially Germanic innovation/hermeneutic that burgeoned during the Bismarckian era and diffused widely. Hayek, offended by the eclipse of liberty in the West, wrote, “Individualism is thus an attitude of humility . . . and of tolerance to other opinions and is the exact opposite of that intellectual hubris which is at the root of the demand for comprehensive direction of the social process.” And there is little doubt that the Germans had more than their share of hubris. And socialism, too.
Regarding the Nazi mania for centralization, we can correlate some of Halbrook’s findings with the observations of American social ethicist James Luther Adams, who wrote on the vitalizing central role of voluntary associations in American pluralistic society. Freedom of association is incorporated into the First Amendment precisely because it is the root the American social ethic. The Nazis of course, as well as their rival firm, Lenin, Stalin & Company, simply couldn’t abide freedom of association. If people were allowed to associate, to participate in reasonable democratic forums without overriding direction from above, why, anything might come of it! Adams, who was present in Germany while the Nazis were grubbing for power, attributed the virtually unopposed Nazi rise to the lack of a meaningful tradition of voluntary association in Germany. Halbrook discusses the Nazi’s program of Gleichschaltung to bring all organizations and associations into alignment with the goals of the state. Even shooting clubs, essentially hobby groups, but some of which dated back to the Middle Ages, were reorganized and saddled with swastika emblems and leaders handpicked by the state. Clubs that resisted were suppressed. The Fuhrer Principle, Führerprinzip, required a brand of leadership that made sure that all was ultimately in service to the state. Murdering Mao Tse-Tung, another of Collectivism’s famous goons, thought much the same way. The only time he tolerated freedom of association and the resultant articulation of ideas, was during the infamous 100 Flowers period of the Chinese revolution, when he cynically encouraged such association and expression in order to identify and later snuff out the sources, which he did through censure, imprisonment and death. Not only was the Party’s associational structure the only one tolerated, it was also linked firmly to guns, just as it was with the Nazis: “Power grows out of the barrel of a gun, our principle is that the Party commands the gun”, so it is written in Mao’s Little Red Book.
The only negative aspects that I see in the book owe to the essential ugliness of its subject matter. Seeing the bureaucratic maw at work is not for the fainthearted. Halbrook has undertaken the description of the social anatomy of an objectionable process. The book cites numerous memos and letters to and from grey little men whose nit nattering decisions, in the end, destroyed Life, Love and Liberty. It reminds in so many ways of Hannah Arendt’s famous description when she beheld Adolph Eichmann, the banality of evil, as embodied by the grey little Nazi accountant of Death that the Israelis kidnapped from Argentina and hanged in Israel in 1962 after a fair and necessary show trial. Also troubling, are the polysyllabic fortifications, the conceptual jargon, behind which evil shelters and legitimizes its doings, terms like Gleichshaltung and Führerprinzip.
An important thing to bear in mind about Nazi Germany is that the Germans were undoubtedly the most civilized, literate, educated, technically advanced and cultured people in the world. And they knew it, just like Americans today. So it can’t happen here. Yeah, right. History seems to show that the collectivist bureaucratic mind is always seeking human grist for its mill.
Friday, October 31, 2014
The new affordable print version will be available on Amazon very soon. This 2014 edition also contains a new foreword by the author.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
American Book and Gun Review
Professor Brian Anse Patrick
University of Toledo
Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms. Nicholas Johnson, Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 379 pages, 2014.
In response to a nonviolent civil rights worker who was surprised to see a firearm in the house of a well known black southern civil rights activist, the activist explained, “That’s a non-violent gun.”
This is one of scores of telling incidents and historical events documented by Professor Nicholas Johnson as he traces the American black tradition of gun ownership from its painful beginnings in slave days, through the Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras, the black diaspora to the industrial north, to the Civil Rights movement and on into the present.
The black tradition of arms is a neglected and, to some, perhaps, an inconvenient history. Although many will find it inspiring, modern progressives will probably wish to swish it away because it doesn’t align with their characteristic approach to social regulation, i.e., “We the government/elite will save you.” The progressive social cartoon poises black people as victims of the gun rather than proponents of the gun for personal defense and freedom. But history as revealed by Johnson says otherwise. American Blacks by necessity took up arms. They used them often and responsibly, and the presence of guns in black hands averted more violence than it caused, although as always the gun is a tool as well as a symbol, and taking up a gun can cause unforeseen (but not unforeseeable) problems.
Frederick Douglass counseled, “A good revolver, a steady hand and a determination to shoot,” as a way for former slaves to counter the man-hunters who attempted to seize blacks who had escaped to the North. Free state blacks often resisted and repelled incursions of slavers who came to reclaim what was then legally viewed as lost property. Armed groups of black men assembled at times to interdict slavers. Harriet Tubman of Underground Railroad fame was well known for carrying firearms and is often depicted rifle in hand. Many white southerners could not abide the idea of armed, independent black voters. This too much resembled true citizenship. After the Civil War when southern militias and nightriders attempted to disarm blacks, many of whom had been federal soldiers, there was often armed resistance. The subsequently adopted 14th Amendment attempted to assure that the rights, immunities and privileges of citizenship as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution also applied to the residents of the various American states, especially the new black citizens. Amazingly, in recent times in Chicago, the 14th Amendment had to be invoked once again in defense of the 2nd Amendment, a battle refought in a manner of speaking, in McDonald v Chicago, where a black man, the late Otis McDonald, had to go to all the way to the Supreme court to plead his right to own a gun in the city of Chicago. McDonald won. But Chicago, much like the southern Democrats of the Reconstruction Era, is still spending taxpayer money to impede the 2nd Amendment rights of good citizens. And as Johnson makes clear, there is also no doubt that many gun control laws of the last century-and-a-half were largely aimed at blacks.
And back in the Reconstruction Era South, the 14th Amendment, lawful authorities and the federal system were often a long way away, especially at night in the countryside. And as some of accounts documented by Johnson reveal, when blacks resisted armed terrorists, it sometimes it turned out after the sun rose that the bloodied attackers left behind were in fact the local authorities—sheriffs and deputies.
Violence was often lopsided. Early on in the days of the Underground Railroad blacks generally had only single shot weapons while the slavers tended to have the more modern repeating weapons. After the Emancipation and the War, blacks sometimes won, sometimes lost and often hung on, maintaining a sort of stasis made possible by the potential for defensive gun use. Armed blacks could not be attacked with impunity.
The storied NAACP enters the picture as a major player in legal cases involving armed self-defense by blacks, defending (unsuccessfully) WWI veteran Sgt. Edgar Caldwell for using his service revolver to kill a train conductor and wound a motorman who had been trying to stomp him to death after he resisted being thrown out of the white passenger section. Johnson presents more cases than can be recounted here, some virtually municipal in scale. In Elaine, Arkansas a white deputy was shot dead after he fired into a group of Negro farmers, veterans, who had formed a farmers union. In the ensuing violence, the governor mobilized troops, deputies roamed the countryside, resulting in 5 white and 25 black casualties. Murder indictments in the “scores” for the blacks were followed by kangaroo trials, some only an hour long. Eventually, with NAACP help, at the SCOTUS level of appeal the convictions were reversed. Justice Holmes justified the reversal on the grounds that the trials were merely an extension of mob violence. In Detroit, NAACP brought famous litigator Clarence Darrow into the Ossian Sweet case. Sweet, a dentist, along with friends and relatives, had been indicted for murder after a white mob attacked the house that he had purchased in an all white neighborhood on Detroit’s east side. Threats had been made and Sweet and friends armed themselves. Shots were fired and afterward a white man lay dead. The prosecutor’s office tried to present the case as incidence of armed Negroes firing on a peaceful community. In court, Darrow pointed out that prosecutors had called up a mob of eyewitnesses to testify there was no mob outside the house. After an initial mistrial Sweet was eventually acquitted. A compliment to Johnson as a scholar, being myself very interested in 2nd Amendment issues and having published extensively in this field, I had thought myself quite well acquainted with the Sweet case, but in this book I learned much more.
Of course the big problem to NAACP and black community leaders was balancing a non-violent political movement with the needs of personal home and self-defense. Non-violence wasn’t an effective political tactic for the dead. But neither was retaliatory violence good for the movement. The notion of armed aggressive black freedom fighters was more than enough to incite an unwinnable race war, and at the least could reverse progress and good will hard earned over the years. Hence the public commitment of Civil Rights Movement leadership to non-violence while privately their homes and sometimes their persons bristled with guns. It was a balancing act between political symbolism and survival. A movement of armed black men known as the Deacons protected non-violent marchers and the homes of community and movement leaders, all as unobtrusively as possible. When during the era of the Black Panthers, the Deacons and other organizational sympathizers morphed into a more militant movement, the checkbooks of northern white liberals closed to them, and support went to more moderate non-violent leaders.
In a time of threats, church bombings and burnings, Martin Luther King applied for a concealed carry permit and was turned down on the grounds that he had not demonstrated need. This is how the old unreformed “may issue” concealed carry licensing boards worked—back when boards had total discretionary power, the concealed carry permit became a boon granted to friends, cronies and brother-in- laws. Still, King was uneasy about the political ramifications of guns, so he stressed a low profile for his armed protectors. Another civil rights activist packed her gun in a paper bag everywhere she went, people thought it contained her lunch. Activists are quoted as stating that non violent or not, there were guns everywhere in the homes of movement leaders and members.
Back in the 19th Century, journalist/social commentator and provocative black essayist Ida B. Wells wrote: “The Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home. The more the Afro-American yields and cringes and begs, the more he is insulted, outraged and lynched.”
Unlike most professors Johnson knows whereof he writes when it comes to firearms. In an apt analogy he shows that the Winchester repeating level action rifle was the “assault weapon” of its time, being capable of a high rate of fire and easily reloadable. I know from personal conversations with Professor Johnson in the context of academic conferences (e.g., last year’s Second Amendment Symposium at Fordham Law School on that island of antigun sentiment known as Manhattan) that he owns and delights in an old Winchester .351 caliber rifle from 1907 or so. He enjoys showing antigun academic acquaintances that the idea of a semiautomatic so-called assault rifle has been around for a long time, and is not some new satanic invention causing havoc on society, but has long been part of the healthy social order. In the same way the Winchester rifle became a useful, freedom-preserving part of the emergent social order of the South, the Black tradition of arms. I may be attributing my own construal of meaning to Professor Johnson’s work here, if so I apologize, but you, dear reader, will get the idea. My point is that Johnson is not one of the hoplophobic hysterics that one encounters so frequently in academia. He is knowledgeable; his language is restrained, objective; his interpretations buoyed by an abundance of facts, documentation and experience.
Johnson’s book is extremely well researched. A Professor at Fordham Law School, Johnson’s scholarship is carefully anchored in citations. The depth of the research is impressive. This is not the sort of book that one takes in at a sitting. Its chapters and organization lend themselves well to episodic reading, however. Overall, though, one thing becomes certain: a commitment to non-violent political means and peace does not equate with lying down and dying when it comes to matters of self, life, home and family. Defense of home hearth and family is the opposite of violence.
Johnson’s last chapter is especially impressive. He faces down many of the current progressive objections and myths concerning guns in private hands, even looking at the troubling differences between black and white homicide/victimizations. Recent and early 20th century victimization and crime studies show rates of blacks as victims and perpetrators at 10 times (or more) higher than the white population. Modern academics and journalists tend blame this on the NRA and evil gun manufacturers. Johnson more rationally attributes the disproportion to a criminal “microculture,” even quoting W.E.B. Dubois on the subject. One of the big negative effects of unjust, broadly sweeping gun legislation is that it makes it difficult or impossible for blacks to defend themselves against this criminal microculture, the promise of imminence/omnipotence of the progressive state, being so much nonsense. The police or the state cannot defend: they can only appear after the fact. We should recall the reason that Otis McDonald was forced to go to law was so he could effectively defend self and family against Chicago gangs in his own home and city.
Also dealt with and dismissed is the myth that guns in the home are more of a risk to the home owner than to invaders, a much cited myth based on a lopsided study based on bad sampling and comparisons published in the consistently hoplophobic New England Journal of Medicine. Johnson also dispels the common myth that high numbers of guns are correlated with high levels of gun violence, showing that the amazing increases in gun ownership and owners in recent years have not correlated with increases in crime, quite the reverse. He sheds light on DGUs (Defensive Gun Uses), using a variety of survey sources, that show most gun uses are non-violent, good citizens use guns to deter but not to shoot social predators. Johnson attributes current antigun policies of black urban leaders to political alliances with progressives, who provide a great many incentives and blandishments to black communities in exchange for what are regarded as reliable voting blocks for progressive causes. He cites survey information that suggests current blacks are not as antigun as some imagine, providing guns go to good people.
A final anecdote, not from Johnson’s book, but which suggests some reasons for the disappearance of the black tradition of arms under an educational and informational system dominated by modern so-called progressive values. A professor and lawyer of my acquaintance, a black man, well educated and urbane, fairly affluent, returned recently with his family to Atlanta to set in order the effects and property of his recently deceased grandfather. In the home in a drawer by the old man’s bed they discovered a revolver in a box along with ammunition. It should be mentioned Atlanta had been, long ago, the scene of one of the race riots discussed in Johnson’s book, wherein many blacks armed themselves to resist attackers. My acquaintance and his family were terrified and alarmed by the gun and worried that it would go off or harm them in some way. They placed the box with the gun in a plastic garbage bag and put it in the trashcan behind the house, and called police. The police removed the gun. A few hours later, it must have been a nice revolver with an unsullied history, a police officer came back with a waiver the professor could sign transferring the gun to the officer personally. The professor did. So the revolver wasn’t wastefully destroyed. The moral? You see here what progressive propaganda can achieve in a generation or so. An item of utility, a means of freedom from terror and coercion, an heirloom, was transformed into a symbol of death and evil. As you can imagine, Dear Reader, Johnson’s account will not be well received in some circles because it says things that for some are unthinkable.
Johnson’s book is a blow against Orwellian history. A fine and illuminating book it is!
7 October 2014