A picture worth fighting for…
(GunNews) – Some say a picture is worth a thousand words. We believe this one above by Oleg Volk is worth volumes.
The April 2011 issue of GunNews featured some Holocaust imagery and a few weeks after it was published, all hell broke loose.
Media outlets across Illinois criticized GunNews for using Holocaust imagery, claiming it offended some people. Others claimed it trivialized the Holocaust – as if the fight to protect a fundamental, Constitutionatlly-protected individual right is trivial in and of itself.
The criticism was fierce, yet so was the outpouring of support from Jewish individuals and civil rights groups.
As some people didn’t understand why or how the use of the Holocaust imagery was relevant and applicable to the our work to protect the right to keep and bear arms, we’ve detailed it in depth here, starting right here.
“Madigan’s List” headline and graphics stir controversy – is it an apt comparison?
The Holocaust and the war against gun ownership
By John Naese
(GunNews) – Two issues ago, the front-page story in GunNews, “Madigan’s List”, provoked some strong responses from some unusual quarters. The story did not generate near the controversy that the headline and accompanying graphics did.
The story detailed Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s decision that lists of FOID card holders should be released to the press, despite the objection of the Illinois State Police. The style of the headline evoked the movie “Schindler’s List”, a story about the Holocaust, and the graphic was of a cloth Star of David, worn by Jews under Nazi rule.
The picture and headline pointed the reader to an analogy between the persecution of Jews during Nazi rule and the persecution of gun owners that has been creeping up on us over the years. In Nazi Germany, the government decided that one group was not worthy of full rights, and instead began first to publicly identify that group, then pass laws restricting what that group could legally do. These were the first steps that led ultimately to the “Final Solution” – extermination.
Was the headline and imagery an apt comparison? Was GunNews disrespecting Jews or the Holocaust by evoking that imagery?
GunNews unequivocally stands by the use of the headline, the images, and the comparison. Neither the writer of the story, nor the editors of the headline and images, was saying that a government roundup and extermination of gun owners is imminent. The analogy was simply that the beginning steps to such a harsh outcome are the same, no matter what innocent group of people is the object of derogatory and discriminatory laws. The comparison was apt, the analogy was reasonable, and the argument sound.
The comparison made was not to the end of the Holocaust, but to the beginning. Prior to the Nazi regime, the liberal Weimar Republic government of Germany, in 1919, 1920, and again in 1928, passed sweeping gun controls. These included a ban on civilian possession of “military” weapons, and the classification of bolt action Mauser rifles in the same class of weapons as hand grenades. The 1928 law “ensured that the police had records of all firearms acquisitions (or at least the lawful ones) and that the keeping and bearing of arms were subject to police approval.” Permits for acquisition and for the carrying of arms were all subject to police approval to keep “untrustworthy” persons from acquiring or carrying arms.*
Beginning with Hitler’s ascent to power in 1933, the Nazis systematically used the existing firearms laws to disarm, harass, search, and put into concentration camps all political enemies of the Nazi regime. For these purposes, any opponents were referred to as “communists” and massive search and seizure operations, using the firearms laws as the excuse, were executed. Nazi policy limited the possession of military rifles and handguns to members of the SS, the SA, and the Stahlhelm (steel helmets, a veteran’s organization).
The Nazis also passed numerous laws discriminating against Jews, including the 1935 Nuremberg laws, which stripped Jews of their German citizenship, and among other restrictions, prohibited them from the firearms industry. In 1938, the Nazis updated the Weimar gun laws, including an outright ban on possession by Jews. Later in 1938, the Nazis systematically disarmed Jews during Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass) when thousands of Jewish shops, synagogues, and homes were damaged or destroyed, and 30,000 Jewish men rounded up and sent to concentration camps.
When the Germans began conquering other countries in 1938-39, they needed an easy way to extend the discrimination against German Jews to the Jews of the lands they occupied. They ordered all Jews to wear the yellow Star of David on their clothing. At that point, there was not a nationwide, systematic roundup or killing of Jews; the public identification did serve, however, to subject the Jews to vilification and discrimination. The Nazi regime hated Jews, and they wanted to encourage the vast majority of the German population to feel this way as well. By publicly identifying the objects of their hate, the Nazis made these people easy targets for the hate and discrimination they were peddling.
With that first step, it wasn’t illegal to be a Jew – as long as you were publicly identified as such. The message was that this was not a big deal; what harm could come from wearing a simple cloth armband?
Later, more infringements were passed. “Don’t worry”, the Nazis said. “Just because you are prohibited from attending certain schools, working certain jobs, or practicing certain professions, that doesn’t mean you can’t still work in all the other ones.”
Only later, with the Jews by law disarmed and acclimated to one infringement after another, came the order to “relocate to the East”. By then there was little chance or hope of resistance.
Does any of this sound familiar? If you’re a gun owner in Illinois, it just might.
In 1968, Illinois passed the FOID card laws, forcing citizens to obtain government permission to exercise a basic Constitutional right. Illinois, perhaps not incidentally, is one of only three states that require something like the FOID merely to possess a gun. You cannot exercise your right to keep and bear arms unless you first pay a fee and obtain government permission. Illinois since 1968 has not become any more 2nd-Amendment friendly. It remains, after a House vote in May 2011, the ONLY state without some form of legal civilian carry. Even Wisconsin, the other non-concealed carry state, allows open carry.
And now in 2011, Lisa Madigan rules that FOID card holders MUST be publicly identified, subjecting them to the discrimination of anti-gun press and politicians, as well as the whims of the criminal class, who will now, if she succeeds, have a convenient target list from which to steal their guns, and a victim list of those homes without guns for protection. Right now, an injunction stopping the release of FOID card info is in place and a majority of lawmakers has signed on to legislation barring such release.
Why should we study history? Because if we don’t, we are condemned to repeat it. In recent history (recent enough that there are still living witnesses) the Nazis first publicly identified the target group of their hatred, then passed legal infringements on the rights of those targets, and eventually went to the extralegal and inhuman route of genocide. Looking at history, we here at Guns Save Life can the patterns of those first two steps in the laws and policies we are forced to live under. We don’t want to ever see the third part of that equation, so we’re speaking up now, while we can. We do not study history so we can file it away, and say “that happened to them; it can’t possibly happen to us”. We learn from the past, and let it inform our future actions. We hope you do, too. Don’t take our word for it; listen to James Madison, the Father of our Constitution:
“I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpation.”
Those in power may be silent about those encroachments, but we will not be silent about them. We will call them as we see them. The images of the Holocaust do not exclusively belong to the specific victims of that crime against humanity. They belong to all of us who bring into the light of day any hateful and discriminatory act by any agent of government.
*Quotations are from the definitive academic journal article on this subject, “Nazi Firearms Law and the Disarming of the German Jews” by Stephen P. Halbrook, in Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law, Vol. 17, No. 3, 483-535 (2000).
An open letter from Rabbi Bendory
Dear State Senator Silverstein:
As the Rabbinic Director of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, I was consulted over the controversy you created surrounding the use of a Jewish Star of David in the Illinois based GunNews newsletter. I write to you as a fellow Orthodox Jew.
The graphic on the cover of the newsletter contains a jarring juxtaposition: On the left, a blue-on-white Star of David (with a rifle in the foreground) overlaid with the caption: “ARMED, PEOPLE FLY THEIR COLORS”.
On the right is a cloth yellow star as forced upon Jews prior to, and during, the Holocaust. This image is overlaid with the caption: “DISARMED, VICTIMS WEAR THEM.”
The Chicago Sun Times quotes you as stating: “It offended not only me but a lot of Jewish individuals and non-Jewish individuals who know the history of the Holocaust.”
Senator, I know the history of the Holocaust, but I fail to see what could possibly be wrong with the image. With regard to the left side, the world may not like the image of the self-reliant and proud Israeli Jew flying his colors, but the world must contend with him. The Israeli Jew is armed and will (and does) defend himself. Could it possibly be that you take issue with that?
With regard to the right half of the image, it is a fact of Jewish history that during the Holocaust – as during many prior dark periods in Jewish history – we were systematically disarmed as a people, persecuted, attacked, and murdered, often en masse. Are you espousing unarmed victimhood over armed self defense? Could you possibly be making this inference?
Frankly, I seriously question your motivations in expressing outrage in this matter. What aspect of this image of the Yellow Star are you offended by? Is it that the history of the Jewish people disturbs you? That would be good, and appropriate. The brutal violence heaped upon us by various bigoted and murderous factions throughout history should disturb you. It should disturb all good and moral people.
Is it the image of the Yellow Star itself? It is a disturbing image. I can’t see a Yellow Star anywhere, not even in a museum, without having a visceral emotional response. As you stated in the Sun Times, “Just to see the image is scary.” However, does that mean that we should suppress the image of the Yellow Star and erase our memory of history? Or can only groups that espouse an anti-gun liberal mentality (like the ADL) use the images of the Holocaust?
I assume that you have studied modern Jewish history, and I see that you successfully advanced House Bill 6059 to establish an Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission. Are you aware that the Nazis disarmed Jews prior to Kristallnacht? The Nazis efficiently did so using detailed gun owner registration lists similar to the registration lists that you presently have, and personally advocate, in Illinois. The Yellow Star, “gun control”, and gun confiscation are inextricably connected in the history of Nazi Germany…and therefore inextricably connected to the Holocaust.
Additionally, those same Nazi gun laws that disarmed all German Jews prior to the Holocaust, unconscionably became the foundation of the U.S. Gun Control Act of 1968. Are you aware that Senator Thomas Dodd, the author of the Gun Control Act of 1968, asked the Library of Congress to translate the Nazi Gun Control Laws into English for him? He then incorporated language from these Nazi laws into the draconian federal usurpation of our rights that he authored. Read about “Gateway to Tyranny” and The Gun Control Act of 1968.
As Jews, we are commanded to know and remember our history. As a Jew, I hope that you find these facts of the history of America’s foundational “gun control” scheme deeply troubling.
Additionally, you are no doubt aware that the Jewish people have been at the wrong end of the gun barrel for far too long. America is one of the few countries in the world where Jews are entitled to embrace firearms as the most practical means of our own self-defense. Is your discomfort truly at the image of the Yellow Star? Or is your feigned offense at the image a veil for your contempt for the suggestion that US citizens, both Jew and non-Jew, have a right to defend themselves with firearms, and that this is a G-d-given right affirmed by our Second Amendment in the U.S. Constitution? As an elected official, you no doubt swore an oath to uphold and defend that Constitution – not just the parts you like.
Senator, what do the words, “Never Again” actually mean to you? To me those words mean that we must learn the lessons of our Jewish history … and then assertively and realistically prevent repetitions thereof. That means Jews with guns, guns that appear on no government registry. And this emphatically applies to every other law-abiding, moral, and decent American as well.
In a related news item, your like-minded victimhood co-religionists in the Anti-Defamation League say that relating “gun control” schemes to the Holocaust “trivializes” the Holocaust. This assertion is perversely distorted in that quite the opposite is true: disarming Jews and the righteous non-Jews who would come to their defense trivializes the lessons of the Holocaust.
Similarly, voluntarily disarming ourselves and putting blind trust in the fickle good intentions of government protection trivializes the horrific losses of the Holocaust — and all the other government-sanctioned genocides of the last one hundred years. See the JPFO genocide chart, on the page about “Death by Gun Control”.
Using the memory of the Holocaust as an anti-gun, anti-self defense propaganda smear desecrates the phrase “Never Again” and insults the memory of the brave Jews and Righteous Gentiles who did fight back against murderous tyranny.
Senator, your misguided “gun control” philosophies are a danger to both American Jews and American freedom.
Your advocacy and support of “gun control” legislation mimics the evil behavior of the enemies of the Jewish people and enemies of freedom: the Ottoman Turks, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Mao Tse Tung, and every other blood stained dictator of the last one hundred years.
I sincerely hope you will reconsider the morality of your positions on these matters. To that end, I have enclosed two complimentary gifts: “The Ten Commandments of Self-Defense” and “No Guns for Jews.” “The Ten Commandments” goes through sources in Jewish Law that not only endorse but require a Jew to defend himself and the innocent. “No Guns for Jews” is a documentary that chronicles the historic use of “gun control” as a means of oppressing the Jewish People.
Rabbi Dovid Bendory
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership
Jews For The Preservation Of Firearms Ownership Mission is to destroy “gun control” and to encourage Americans to understand and defend all of the Bill of Rights for everyone. Those are the twin goals of Wisconsin-based Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO). Founded by Jews and initially aimed at educating the Jewish community about the historical evils that Jews have suffered when they have been disarmed, JPFO has always welcomed persons of all religious beliefs who share a common goal of opposing and reversing victim disarmament policies while advancing liberty for all.
JPFO is a non-profit tax-exempt educational civil rights organization, not a lobby. JPFO’s products and programs reach out to as many segments of the American people as possible, using bold tactics without compromise on fundamental principles. Visit www.JPFO.org – Copyright JPFO 2011
Oleg Volk: Identification, disarmament are always precursors for genocide
by Oleg Volk
(Guns Save Life) – Recently, Lisa Madigan called for listing the names of all legal gun owners in Illinois. She considers them a menace and wants to bring social pressure to bear on them. People pointed out that the treatment differed little in substance and apparent intent from the early stages of the 1938 Nuremberg laws passed by Nazis to marginalize Jews. Being outed as a gun owner near Chicago can have negative consequences comparable to being outed as gay or Jewish in mid-1930s Germany. Sen. Silverstein immediately objected to that similarity being pointed out by Christians.
Being Jewish, I would like to note that the similarity exists whether he likes it or not, and no matter who pointed it out first. Having lost family members in 1941 and having lived in the USSR where anti-Semitism was semi-officially sponsored by the government, I say that John Boch speaks the truth. Either government pressure or extra-legal efforts to restrict gun ownership comes straight from the playbook of every aggressor, colonizer and domestic dictator throughout history.
The Jewish Holocaust is merely one of the best documented and most extensive genocides, but the events in 1915 Armenia, 1970s Cambodia and 1990s Rwanda and Burundi aren’t far behind in the extent and severity of carnage. Disarming the targeted population groups has always been the precursor for effected or attempted genocide.
My interest in the preservation of self-defense capability of the individual world-wide came precisely from the awareness of the dire consequences of being disarmed and helpless.
The only reason for Madigan’s proposal is her hostility to lawful gun owners. She may lack the means to harm them directly but her publicity efforts paint them as possible targets for others, including thieves and unsympathetic employers. No matter who pointed this out first, the truth is that malicious persecution of law-abiding people should not be tolerated.
Never ones to back down, Gun Save Life ran the following cover in June 2011.