Another week, another jaw-dropping comment from Ben Carson. In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Thursday, the Republican presidential candidate (who is catching up to front-runner Donald Trump in the polls) suggested that gun control was partly to blame for the Holocaust.
“I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed,” the celebrated neurosurgeon told Blitzer. “I’m telling you that there is a reason that these dictatorial people take the guns first.”
Carson’s angle on the Holocaust — as something that European Jews could have averted simply by owning more personal firearms — is (sadly) not an innovative one. The Nazi gun-control theory is a longstanding trope of the pro-gun right, which holds that Hitler cemented his grip on power by using gun-control policies to disarm the German public, especially Jews. Carson’s counterfactual history in which better-armed German Jews somehow prevented the ascendance of the Nazi party is nothing new. It is, however, deeply insulting to the many Jews and non-Jews who did in fact fight and die resisting the Nazis with arms. Also, it has been repeatedly debunked.
In fairness to Carson, the media and the public have come to expect a steady stream of outrageous statements by now — most recently, he implicitly blamed the victims of last week’s mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, for not trying to physically confront their attacker; before that, he contended that Muslims were not qualified to be presidents, Supreme Court justices, or patriotic citizens of the United States.
But hey, that sort of thing is just what a man (or Carly Fiorina) has to do to win a Republican primary these days. So don’t blame the guy: He’s just doing his job.