Today in History…

….In 1943, during World War II, tens of thousands of Jews living in the Warsaw Ghetto began a valiant but futile battle against Nazi forces. (link)
More information here. And now for my thoughts on that…
There are many disarmament advocates who claim that a citizenry armed with small arms such as rifles and pistols is no match for a tyrannical government armed with weaponry such as B-52 bombers and M1 Abrams tanks. Which, in a very general sense, is true. But as Mike Vanderboegh observed some time ago at David Codrea’s place, “…artillery and nuclear bombs are of limited utility to a government when the battlefield is its own cities, towns, transportation hubs and commercial centers. Then it becomes like Iraq, only far worse. It becomes a rat hunt where the rats outnumber you, and often, at the point of decision, beat you in the one thing that is most fundamental in an up-close infantry fight: rapid and deadly accurate rifle fire.”
No doubt many would look at what happened in the Warsaw Ghetto as a failure, and perhaps in a sense it was — the wrong implementation of the right strategy, in a way, the wrong implementation being in the fact that the Jewish resistance was not as well-armed as it could have been. But — and I could well be wrong here — I think THAT was partially due to the extent to which the Jews in Germany were disarmed before the slaughter commenced. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judge Alex Kozinski offered an oblique recognition of this in his dissent to Silveira v. Lockyer (emphasis mine — ed.):

The majority falls prey to the delusion—popular in some circles— that ordinary people are too careless and stupid to own guns, and we would be far better off leaving all weapons in the hands of professionals on the government payroll. But the simple truth —born of experience— is that tyranny thrives best where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people. Our own sorry history bears this out: Disarmament was the tool of choice for subjugating both slaves and free blacks in the South. In Florida, patrols searched blacks’ homes for weapons, confiscated those found and punished their owners without judicial process. See Robert J. Cottrol & Raymond T. Diamond, The Second Amendment: Toward an Afro-Americanist Reconsideration, 80 Geo. L.J. 309, 338 (1991). In the North, by contrast, blacks exercised their right to bear arms to defend against racial mob violence. Id. at 341-42. As Chief Justice Taney well appreciated, the institution of slavery required a class of people who lacked the means to resist. See Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393, 417 (1857) (finding black citizenship unthinkable because it would give blacks the right to “keep and carry arms wherever they went”). A revolt by Nat Turner and a few dozen other armed blacks could be put down without much difficulty; one by four million armed blacks would have meant big trouble. All too many of the other great tragedies of history—Stalin’s atrocities, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Holocaust, to name but a few—were perpetrated by armed troops against unarmed populations. Many could well have been avoided or mitigated, had the perpetrators known their intended victims were equipped with a rifle and twenty bullets apiece, as the Militia Act required here. See Kleinfeld Dissent at 5997-99. If a few hundred Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto could hold off the Wehrmacht for almost a month with only a handful of weapons, six million Jews armed with rifles could not so easily have been herded into cattle cars.

Indeed, it’s something to consider. It would have been interesting and quite instructive to see what would have happened, had the Jews been armed as well as many Americans are. There are those who say the side armed with little more than small arms is going to lose, but then Arizona attorney David Hardy made a pretty good point in the comments to Vanderboegh’s essay — “To maintain a republic, you don’t have to have the citizenry capable of fighting the worst-case government and winning 100% of the time. It’s enough that those who might be tempted to abuse power see that abuse as sufficiently risky and costly to where they’d rather not roll the dice.”
Still, though, it makes one wonder, how far the individuals who aspire to power in this country are willing to go, to see the implementation of their schemes through…


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