:: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 ::
Gun Controls: Are You "Reliable"?
Posted by Edward Cline at 5:47 AM
The U.S. has reached that point in its history that its political
state can be credibly compared with that of Weimar Germany, especially in
regards to the issue of gun control. The Republic was governed, between 1919
and 1933, by a hodge-podge of political parties, every one of them statist,
that is, their iron-clad premise was that the rights and privileges of citizens
emanated from the government, and were not inherent. Lip service was paid to a
citizen's liberty. The Weimar government tried to balance these
"traditional" rights with the powers the government asserted were
necessary to protect the state and "the people."
Principals of the Weimar government tried to reach a compromise
with the most feared and violent of the "new" political parties,
first, with the Communists, then with the National Socialist German Workers'
Party (NSDAP, or the Nazis). The "moderate" and
"conservative" principals lost because the Nazis were more consistent
in their political philosophy and their ends, which meant total power over the
country, or totalitarianism. In fact, the "moderates" and
"conservatives" shared many key premises with their enemies, just as
the Republicans share them with the Democrats and Progressives today.
In the U.S., "traditional" rights that were recognized
as inherent rights possessed by the individual are being ignored, ruled
invalid, or superseded and usurped by "Homeland Security" concerns.
These genuine rights were expressed and recognized in the Declaration of
Independence and the Constitution. Statist policies over the last century or so
conflicted with individual rights and will continue to be in conflict. The
Democrats and the Republicans are at comparable odds with the Communists and
Socialists of the Weimar and the conservative "traditionalists."
It was the Weimar Reichstag that passed laws that forbade
"extremists" from purchasing, owning, or using a variety of firearms.
And it was on such legislation that the Nazis later based their own firearms restrictions - and outright bans - to forestall any resistance to the Führer's and the Party's will.. The
Nazis relied more on the Weimar government's gun control laws than they did on
their own laws. Doing so lent the actions of the Nazis an air of legitimacy.
One of the rights recognized by the Founders was the right to
"bear arms," that is, to own guns for self-defense or for recreation
(such as hunting and sporting events). In terms of self-defense, that right
applies equally to protecting oneself against criminals as it does against a government
acting like a criminal, that is, initiating force to assault, rob or enslave
individuals – or a whole population.
In America today, the "new Jews" and "enemies of
the state" are the Tea Party and anyone else who "clings"
to his guns, his principles, and his certainty that he isn't beholden to a
state that continually assaults him with taxes, regulations and a socialist
agenda to make him a willing or unwilling ward of the state.
Stephen Halbrook, in Gun
Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and "Enemies of the State",
describes in detail how Germans, and especially Jews, were increasingly left
defenseless, beginning with firearms registration and
"permit-to-carry" laws enacted during the Weimar era in the name of "law and
order" to disarm violent "extremist" groups (chiefly Communists,
Nazis, and Freicorps paramilitary outfits), and ending by 1945 with millions of
self-defense-stripped and disarmed Germans imprisoned for political opposition
to the Nazis, six million Jews slaughtered during the Holocaust, and countless
millions of other Europeans killed or imprisoned in Nazi occupied countries.
The Weimar Republic's weapons laws following the Great War were
draconian and vague and could be implemented only in an arbitrary and chaotic
manner. To add to the confusion, the German states not only determined how
these laws were implemented but also continued to pass their own laws….
The Law on Firearms and Ammunition…of 1928, however, would focus
not on repression of armed violence, but on regulation of the predominately
But the Weimar leaders acted on the illusion that power would be
exercised for the common good. They did not anticipate losing power and a new
régime's seizing power and using the Weimar laws to repress the citizenry at
large. The 1928 Firearms Law would be one of many such laws. (p. 15)
Significantly, the Firearms Law, passed on March 31st,
1928, was passed by the Reichstag on the next to the last day of its session. Perhaps, like the Affordable Care Act
(ObamaCare), it was passed without many of the legislators even reading it. It was also passed as an amendment to a budget
bill. As one German official reported:
"This is the first time in the history of the Reichstag that
such an important statute with far-reaching consequences for economy and
jurisprudence was adopted in the Reichstag without any debate, as an
afterthought as part of the budget of the Reich Department of the
Interior…" (pp. 19-20)
American politicians have nothing over German ones on how to sneak
in important, expropriatory legislation without having to seriously debate it, without
knowing what was in it, and without risking bringing it to the attention of the
public. In the Reichstag, no one contested the legitimacy of the bill.
As Halbrook unveils the progress towards Nazi totalitarianism, he
paints Weimar efforts to control the spread of firearms as a bewildering mosaic
of overbearing Reichstag hubris and the various firearm laws in the different
German cities and states. An ostensively "benign" intention was written
into the Firearms Law, one which many of its authors and proponents rued in
later years. Halbrook wrote, quoting from the Law:
"Firearm and ammunition acquisition licenses and firearm
carrying licenses may be issued only to persons whose reliability is unquestioned, and firearm carrying licenses may be
issued only with proof of a need."
Licenses were automatically denied to "Gypsies or persons traveling like
Gypsies"; persons with convictions under various laws, including this law;
and "persons for whom police surveillance has been declared admissible, or
upon whom the loss of civil rights has been imposed." (p. 17, Italics mine)
The terms reliability
and need would recur in future
debates and gun control legislation and haunt the Weimar lawmakers .The Nazis would
make effective use of the terms when identifying who owned firearms, because
the issuance of licenses naturally meant creating registration records.
Restrictions on firearms were aimed not so much at armed crime as
at political violence. But such policies had little effect and instead served
primarily to restrict law-abiding citizens. Those whose agenda was overthrow of
the state could have cared less about jumping through the hoops to obtain arms
according to the bureaucratic requirements imposed by the existing authorities.
While establishing a legal code and the political power of the new
Weimar Republic in 1922, the Reichstag incorporated into the constitution a
provision that permitted the president to declare an emergency and take
emergency actions, such as banning an arm of
the Communist Party, the RFB (the Nazis had not yet begun its climb to political
"legitimacy"), Article 48. The Reichstag also included the Law for
the Protection of the Republic. Halbrook writes, in describing the measures the
besieged government was taking to combat violent "extremist"
In introducing that law, Prussian Interior Minister Carl
Severing…explained in March 1930: "The right of assembly has become the
wrong of assembly, and press freedom has become press license. We cannot permit
demagogues to inflame the masses any further." Like the right to have
arms, the rights to free speech and assembly were curtailed. (p. 21)
Sound familiar? It should. Aside from the continuing call for gun
controls in the U.S. by those who claim that guns shoot people, not people –
that is, that possession of a firearm magically turns an individual into a
rampaging maniac activated by the gun in his hand – there are increasing
instances of politically correct applications of what constitutes inflammatory
"hate speech," from criticizing Islam and Muslims to school children
playing cowboys and Indians and using sticks or simple hand gestures. In the
Weimar Republic, local police were granted the discretion of deciding who was
"reliable" and ruling on the "need" of a person to own or
carry a gun. If a case went to court, courts almost invariably sided with the
Often, a court would split a decision. If a citizen had dutifully
registered a gun he procured as a soldier during the Great War, or any time
before the 1923 law went into effect six months after its passage, the
registration might be upheld as "legal," but the person found guilty
by reason of his "unreliability" or because of the ex post facto restriction on the type of
the weapon he owned, and face fines and prison time.
As time went on, not only firearms came under scrutiny and more
and more restrictive controls, but non-firearms that could be used as weapons,
whether or not one participated as a Nazi or a Communist in the constant street
battles between political groups. Fairly utilitarian objects, often used by the
battling gangs that could be used for "hitting, thrusting, and
slashing," such as bicycle chains, rubber truncheons, steel rods, and the
like, came to be frowned upon as well as were ceremonial swords and bayonets
from the Great War. As the anti-gun hysteria grew over the next decade, police
searches became regular events even in the most placid neighborhoods of German
cities. If the police found an old, rusted, inoperable handgun in one's home,
the resident could be charged with a variety of anti-firearms violations.
Halbrook retraces the trail of how both the Weimar and the Nazis
disarmed a whole nation. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, one of the first
things they did was turn their attention to disarming Jews and other
"enemies of the state." Of great assistance in this campaign were the
lists of registered owners of weapons and even of those individuals who had
surrendered "illegal" weapons to the police. Some Weimar officials
had expressed dismay over these records possibly falling "into the wrong
hands." But, fall they did.
Halbrook makes the interesting note that these possibly millions
of records – including information on the whole German population – were
organized and disseminated by a wholly-owned subsidiary of IBM.
The burgeoning police state needed detailed information on every
person. For the previous fifty years, the state registry offices had maintained
files on every person's status and religion, making Jews readily identifiable.
Beginning in June [1933, after Hitler's ascension to power], a new census began
that would provide to authorities detailed information on every household. For
Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen Gesellschaft (Dehomag), the subsidiary of the U.S.
firm International Business Machines (IBM), provided its new punch card and
card-sorting system, which allowed in enormous amount of data to be stored in
600 punch hole possibilities per card.
Besides name, address, sex, birth date, native language, family,
and employment, the cards included at column 22: hole 1 for Protestant, hole 2
for Catholic, and hole 3 for Jew. It is unclear whether firearm ownership was
included, but census records could easily have been correlated with police
records to identify Jews, political opponents, and others who had obtained
permits to acquire or carry firearms or who had registered firearms pursuant to
the 1931 decree. [Reich Chancellor Heinrich Brüning used Article 48 to declare
a state of emergency on December 10th.]
IBM punch card machines also helped the Nazis organize the rail
traffic of moving millions of Jews to concentration camps and gas chambers. IBM
has disputed its complicity in the Holocaust, claiming it had no knowledge of or
control over how Dehomag and the German Ministry of Transport used its
technology. [Developed, by the way, by Herman Hollerith, the son of a German immigrant;
his Tabulating Machine Company was merged into the Computer Tabulating
Recording Company, renamed in 1924 the International Business Machines
Corporation.] Two major lawsuits against IBM stemming from the Holocaust were
dismissed by courts.
Halbrook's book is thoroughly documented with his principal
sources being Weimar and Nazi government archives, in addition to the diaries
of notables such as George Goebbels. He hypothesizes that when Herschel
Grynzpan, a Polish Jewish teenager, shot German third secretary Ernest vom Rath
in the German embassy in Paris on November 9th, 1938, the Nazis were
prepared to implement the penultimate steps in Hitler's "Final
Solution," very likely waiting for the right incident to lend credibility
to not only conducting a massive, nation-wide pogrom against German Jews, whose
German citizenship had already been revoked, but for "rolling out"
firearms restrictions that all but prohibited Jews from raising a butter knife
The immediate result was the Nazi-orchestrated Reichskristallnacht (Night of the Broken
Glass) of November 8-10.
Jews were attacked, their homes and businesses ransacked,
synagogues were burned, and 20,000 to 30,000 Jews were detained. A central focus
of this onslaught was that Jews were dangerous; their premises must be searched
for weapons, and any caught with arms must be thrown into concentration camps. (pp.
Lending credibility to the conspiracy theory is the fact that
November 9th also was the fifteenth anniversary of Hitler's failed
Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, Tag der
Bewegung, or "Day of the Movement." (p.163, 168) How suspiciously propinquitous! How dare a Jew
spoil such a solemn occasion! Jews are dangerous! They must be punished! Their
ill-gotten gains must be confiscated, and Jews removed from our presence! Jews
who resist "law and order" should be shot on the spot! We must
cleanse our homeland of these vermin!
National Socialism [Nazism] embodied a schizophrenic perversion of
law as a set of predictable rules that could be overridden by the führer,
acting through institutions such as the Gestapo. But formal laws remained
significant because in the usual course of events they were enforced by
ordinary police and adjudicated by the courts. They could be ignored in
extraordinary cases only if the Gestapo so decided. (p. 123)
Targeting Jews and other "enemies of the state" served
yet another purpose: To put all "law-abiding" Germans on notice that
this was what they could expect should they breathe a single word of criticism or
raise a single eyebrow against the Nazi Party and the way Hitler and his
cronies went about controlling the country. Halbrook introduces the means by
which the Nazis were able to get away with as much as they did from January
1933 to the bitter end in a Berlin bunker in 1945: Gleichschaltung, or, "forcing into line." Halbrook
describes it workings and ends:
In sum, the Hitler dictatorship viewed private gun owners and gun
clubs with suspicion, and the Gestapo used different tactics to bring them
under total control or to disarm them altogether. Armed Jews were demonized in propaganda
campaigns as dangerous to the state, and shooting clubs were essentially seized
by central Nazi authorities. Protest was not an option, and no recourse
existed. By the time the National Socialist police state had been in power for
half a decade, it was approaching near-complete control of firearms possession
and use by the populace….(p. 122)
Writing about the public response – or non-response – to the
"Night of the Broken Glass," Halbrook notes:
Observing that the people at large took no part in and were
repulsed by the pogrom, anti-Hitler plotter Hans Gisevius later reflected that
they could also see what might happen to themselves if they spoke out or
resisted. In addition to the mortal blow to the German Jews, "the cowed
middle class stared at the Nazi monsters like a rabbit at a snake. A general
psychosis had been created [Gleichschaltung],
under which the populace was reduced to absolute submission; and this effect
was valuable to the Nazis. The class was doomed, but for the present it had its
uses and would be made to serve." (pp. 172-173)
What are the parallels between the Weimar Republic and the U.S.
today? They are eerily similar and traipse about under a different name in a different
dance. The Washington Times on December 1st reported on Allen West's
warning about the latest wrinkle in Obama's gun control agenda:
And for defenders of the Second Amendment, that means higher ammo
prices are likely on the way — a situation Mr. West writes on his blog, AllenBWest.com,
is akin to a federal power-grab on guns, albeit through the backdoor.
Just as the Weimar government and later the Nazis sought to restrict ammunition
ownership and sales to "unreliable" German citizens, our own
"Homeland" super-agency, which, like the German government, assumed
supreme authority over all civilian law enforcement entities, including state
authorities and the local police, is determined to disarm Americans by making
it more difficult and expensive to purchase and keep ammunition.
Instead of punch-cards and printouts of gun registrations and
census data that can be matched with local or state police records, we have
high-speed computers and the Internet.
Under the Obama plan to restrict gun ownership, you may or may not
be deemed "reliable" because your insistence on "clinging"
to your guns may be deemed a "mental health" issue. Those mandatory
background checks are too similar to the "reliability" and
"need" requirements of the Weimar and Nazi governments. The Obama agenda,
reported by the National Conference of State Legislatures, includes:
Requires background checks for all gun sales and strengthens the
background check system. This would include removing barriers under the
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act so that states may more
freely share information about mental health issues involving potential gun
Provides states with monetary incentives—$20 million in fiscal
year FY 2013 and a proposed $50 million in FY 2014—to share information so that
records on criminal history and people prohibited from gun ownership due to
mental health reasons are more available.
Imagine the consequences if the British Crown had implemented a
plan to require background checks and mental health tests administered by
Crown-appointed doctors in the colonies. Doubtless every American colonial who
applied for the right to own a muzzle-loading musket and a pouch of power and
ball would have been denied and sent on his way, possibly to jail if the
doctors deemed their loyalty to the King suspect and "unreliable." There
would have been no American Revolution.
That policy would have been complemented with the Crown's own
"Fast & Furious" campaign to demonize gun ownership by secretly
selling guns to frontier Indians so they could better raid defenseless settlers
and "prove" that guns were "dangerous."
The only purpose of gun controls in the U.S. is to prevent Americans
from defending themselves against common criminals – and to rely on a lethargic
government entity for protection – and uncommon ones in the guise of enforcers
of "public safety."
So, dear reader, are you reliable?
Do you really need your guns? Or are
you going to let a bureaucrat or anonymous government functionary answer those
questions for you? If you do, then you have been "forced into line."
Gun Control in the Third
Reich: Disarming the Jews and "Enemies of the State," by Stephen P. Halbrook. Oakland, CA: The Independent Institute,
2013. 247 pp.
0 Comments ::
:: Wednesday, December 04, 2013 ::
Posted by Edward Cline at 3:46 PM
Browsing through a second-hand book shop recently, I chanced upon
a New Penguin paperback edition of William Shakespeare's Othello, edited by Kenneth
Muir, a Shakespearean scholar. I have the Oxford Complete Works and have read the play a few times. What
intrigued me about the New Penguin edition, however, were a student's notes
inked throughout it with often indecipherable and frequently puerile, labored
penmanship (meaning in mixed block letters and cursive, a sure sign that the
student "texts" more than he writes). But enough of it was legible
that I could take the measure of the student's mind and what he was taught to
focus on in the play. The most significant comment was scrawled on the title
"othello & desdemonda oposits because not know his own
"His own culture"? That remark moved me to investigate what
the student might have thought of the characters of Othello the Moor and
Desdemona. Scholars have not agreed on the ethnic character of Othello. Various
of other editions of the play feature coal-black, Numidian faces in North
African dress, or brown Arabic or Egyptian faces, and even bearded white faces
in European dress. Othello, a professional soldier, whatever his race, has been
retained by the Venetians to fight the invading Turks. For centuries, Europeans
referred to anyone coming from any part of the Middle East and Northern Africa
as a "Moor," regardless of the race. In stage and film productions of Othello,
the title character has been played with varying success by white and black
In most of the other covers of Othello,
Desdemona, Othello's wife, is usually depicted as a fragile-looking blonde
woman, the daughter of a Venetian senator. When I was able to decipher the
student's marginal comments, I concluded that he had been told by his
instructor in class to read and think of the play in terms of race determining
one's culture, and not in terms of its principal theme, which is the
destructive forces of jealousy and the evil of Iago, who hates Othello and plots
to destroy the happy relationship between Othello and Desdemona.
The deterministic premise, that culture is a kind of genetic
phenomenon that governs the contents of one's mind and one's values, is a
Marxist product of the Critical Theory School of examining or
"reading" literature, and has become a staple of political
correctness. Formerly, the "reading" was an effort to identify and
elucidate innate, ideological "class" distinctions. In this instance,
it is a matter of identifying and elucidating innate, ideological
"racial" differences, with race creating irreconcilable conflicts
between whites and blacks, with the bias in favor of "black" culture
as a "victim" of white cultural "imperialism."
However, there is nothing "Islamic" or
"Muslim" about Othello. In fact, the villain, Iago, an officer in
Othello's army, is not motivated by racial bigotry, either, but by a burning
hatred of the good for being the good. But students are taught to search for
and find such "subtexts" and "signifiers" in their Marxist
This kind of nonsense has been taught in public high school and
university literature courses for decades. Critical Theory studies have also
now shifted to examining the conflicts between Western and Islamic culture, and
have invaded middle schools, as well. Numerous are the stories of how children,
teens, and college students are being brainwashed in British, European and
American schools to "depreciate" Western culture as an arbitrary
imposition and as the "oppressor" of Islamic and other primitive
Interestingly, the student made no marginal comments on the second
half of Othello, when Iago's
insidious plot begins to advance rapidly to its tragic ending. This is in Act
III, Scene 4, when Desdemona cannot find the handkerchief Othello gave her and
Othello begins to suspect that something is amiss. Just before that Act, the
student made a brief comment that while Desdemona was in her social milieu and
had lots of "contacts," Othello was outside his "natural"
Moorish milieu and had no social contacts.
Thus, according to a Critical Theory analysis, a method obviously
imbibed uncritically by the hapless student, Othello was "victimized"
by "white" culture and can't be held responsible for smothering
Desdemona to death in a state of angry jealousy, as Iago had plotted to happen
by appropriating the handkerchief and planting it on Desdemona's alleged lover.
This is what Othello's "natural" culture demanded of him, so his
action is beyond judgment.
It is likely the earliest and most notorious dramatic presentation
of an Islamic "honor killing" – that is, if Shakespeare even had any
knowledge of that aspect of Islamic "culture," which is highly
Shakespeare would probably worry his goatee in confusion if he
ever read a feminist interpretation of Othello
(or of any of his other plays). Such as this
one, penned by an anonymous "teacher," to wit:
Iago’s desire for revenge on Othello is, in part, dictated by his
view of women as possessions. He believes that ‘it is thought abroad that
‘twixt my sheets/He’s done my office’ (I.3.381-2), suggesting that Othello has
slept with his wife Emilia. It could be argued, however, that Iago exhibits
little love for his wife, insulting her in public and ultimately killing her
himself. It is simply the thought that ‘the lusty Moor/hath leaped into my
seat’ (II.1.286-7) which drives him mad, the thought that Othello has used a
possession that belongs to him. Compounding this theory is the fact that Iago
refers to his wife metaphorically in these two instances: she is his ‘office’
and his ‘seat’; she is objectified and deprived of her humanity.
How is Desdemona’s relationship with her father explored with in
the opening Act?
To what extent are the female characters stereotyped: Desdemona the idealised
wife, Emilia the nagging wife and Bianca the doting mistress?
Why does the text focus on such powerless stereotypes?
How is female sexuality explored in the play?
What sexual identities are offered to the female characters?
What sexual freedom is given to the male characters?
What social structures are presented to maintain patriarchal
What happens to women when they cross or are suspected of crossing societal
expectations of submission and faithfulness?
To what extent must Desdemona and Emelia both die in order for
patriarchal control to be restored?
So, Othello, when did you stop beating your wife? A sharp
courtroom prosecutor might have asked that leading question of him. But I don’t
think Shakespeare had the restoration of "patriarchal control" in
mind as he composed the plot of Othello.
When Critical Theory English and literature teachers ask their students to
plunge their mental shovels into Shakespeare in search of buried gender, class,
or racial treasure, all the students can wind up doing is waving their spades in
empty air over an abyss as deep as the Grand Canyon. That's when they'll make
something up or just parrot the teachers' political agenda.
Shakespeare is not for "exploring" relationships or
sexuality or driving a Critical Theory bulldozer to demolish his "social
In my lifetime, I've seen Shakespeare done in a multitude of
interpretations and styles:
or late 20th
century modern dress, in 1930's Art Deco complete with airplanes
and jeeps, and in expected Shakespearean and Elizabethan settings. In a College of William & Mary production
of Othello (directed by a feminist),
which was set in South Africa, the principal military characters were garbed in
jungle camouflage and carried guns, while the whole cast spoke their lines into
cell phones, with Desdemona, Emelia, and Bianca appearing in miniskirts and
pantsuits. (I walked out after the first act, as did half the audience, so I
don’t know if Desdemona appeared in the final act in a Victoria's Secret swim
suit, but I wouldn't be surprised if she had.)
Who can forget West Side Story, loosely
based on Romeo and Juliet, which
pitted two street gangs against each other? An Australian production of MacBeth features warring street
gangs in Melbourne.
The problem with Shakespeare is that his plots and themes, while
oft times deterministic in and of themselves and needing no extraneous
political or modern interpretative overlays, were more or less original or were
timeless adaptations of plays that antedated Shakespeare. (Kenneth Muir, in his
Introduction to the student's edition of Othello,
reveals that Shakespeare found the basic plot in an anthology of plays by
Giraldi Cinthio, from 1565, when Shakespeare was one year old.)
Actually, it's not Shakespeare's problem. The problem lies in our
culture's esthetic and moral bankruptcy. Political correctness and Critical
Theory suffocate any attempt to either discuss Shakespeare in objective terms, especially
in academia, or they discourage writers from trying to best the Bard at his own
magnificent and prolific game.
2 Comments ::