Monday, December 8, 2008

Take Obama at his Word.

Abdon Pallasch, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, has this advice for us from Barack Obama: "Don't stock up on guns." The entire story is here.

Because I never trust what a reporter says about a press conference, I went to the transcript here. This is the exact Q&A:

Palasch: "(T)here have been a number of stories quoting gun dealers around the country saying that gun sales are up since you were elected, because some people fear that it'll be harder to get guns, even though you campaigned saying you weren't going to take people's guns away. What do you think of that?"

BHO: "Well, on the gun issue, I believe in commonsense gun safety laws, and I believe in the Second Amendment. And so, lawful gun owners have nothing to fear. I've said that throughout the campaign. I haven't indicated anything different during the transition. And I think that people can take me at my word."

Well, of course. And what IS his word? Well, according to his Transition website here it is this:

Obama and Biden would repeal the Tiahrt Amendment, which restricts the ability of local law enforcement to access important gun trace information, and give police officers across the nation the tools they need to solve gun crimes and fight the illegal arms trade. Obama and Biden also favor commonsense measures that respect the Second Amendment rights of gun owners, while keeping guns away from children and from criminals. They support closing the gun show loophole and making guns in this country childproof. They also support making the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent.

Uh, huh. I guess those of us who refuse to cede to the federal government the power to control all private firearms sales and those of us with evil, scary semiautomatic rifles do not fall into Obama's understanding of "lawful gun owners." OK, so we know where we stand. The "pragmatists" believe that Obama will be constrained by politics as usual, in the understanding that he doesn't want a replication of 1994 all over again. But why is it that when I saw this "take me at my word" business, I thought of this?

Most folks don't realize that Hitler wrote a sequel to Mein Kampf. It was reprinted in English five years ago as Hitler's Second Book: The Unpublished Sequel to Mein Kampf. New York: Enigma Books, 2003. 325 pp., ISBN 978-1-929631-16-2. When it came out, it was reviewed in the New Republic by Omer Bartov under the title, "He Meant What He Said." A portion that came to my mind:

Must we read another ranting book by Hitler? This book is certainly as close to the heart of darkness as a book can be. But it should have been read in its time, and it should be read now. It was an explicit warning to the world of what could be expected from the Fuhrer of what was to become for twelve terrible years the Third Reich. When Hitler wrote it, no one could tell whether his plans and fantasies would ever be transformed into reality. Much of what Hitler put together in this book could already be found in Mein Kampf, if anyone had bothered to read it, and other ideas were expressed unambiguously in his speeches. Yet it was difficult to believe that anyone in his right mind would try to translate such rhetoric into policy. It was generally thought that in power Hitler would be constrained by the realities of diplomacy, the limits of Germany's power, the national interests of the Reich, and the military, economic, and political partners with whom he had to make policy.

Today we know that this was a fatal misunderstanding, rooted more in wishful thinking than in the kind of realism on which contemporary observers prided themselves and expected would eventually keep Hitler, too, in his place. Today we know that Hitler said precisely what he meant to say. We can also note, with the benefit of hindsight, that Hitler was neither insane, nor irrational, nor a fool. Several decades ago A.J.P. Taylor wrote that Hitler may have been mad or criminal as far as his plans and policies for world conquest and genocide were concerned, but in the conduct of his diplomacy in the 1930s he acted very much like everyone else, seizing opportunities and moving gradually toward the goals he had set himself.

Reading this second book, I tend to agree. Hitler's rhetoric here is not more empty-headed than that of many of his contemporaries; his use of cliche hardly exceeds what one encountered in the newspapers; his knowledge of history, his psychological observations, his criticism of his rivals, are in many respects typical of his place and time.

But of course Hitler was about much more than this. He was also a pathological mass murderer who caused the death of millions and the destruction of Europe, and so it is important to know that he did precisely what he promised to do. For we still do not seem to have learned a simple crucial lesson that Hitler taught us more definitively than anyone else in history: some people, some regimes, some ideologies, some political programs, and, yes, some religious groups, must be taken at their word. Some people mean what they say, and say what they will do, and do what they said.

Most liberal-minded, optimistic, well-meaning people are loath to believe this. They would rather think that fanaticism is merely an "epiphenomenal" face for politics, that opinions can be changed, that everyone can be corrected and improved. In many cases, this is true — but not in all cases, and not in the most dangerous ones. There are those who practice what they preach and are proud of it. They view those who act otherwise, who compromise and pull back from ultimate conclusions, as opportunists, as weaklings, as targets to be easily conquered and subdued by their own greater determination, hardness, and ruthlessness. When they say they will kill you, they will kill you — if you do not kill them first.

Now I'm not one who believes that Obama is a Hitler, although I will say that the way he demonstrates his narcissism when the adulating crowd is screaming at him -- that chin-raised, head-nodding, soaking-it-all-in gesture that he shares with both Mussolini and Hitler -- is more than a little creepy. But I do think this: If Obama tells us something like what is posted on his Transition website, we should believe him. The "pragmatists" may think they have the luxury of underestimating and disbelieving the President Elect. We do not.

Some people can be taken at their spoken word. Not a politician. More credible is what they put down on paper. We should take Obama at his written word.

He's coming for our property and our rights.

Get ready.


Anonymous said...

Rational actors have a different take. The November (post-election) FBI NICS check numbers have finally been posted.

November saw 1.53M background checks, which means >1.53M guns exchanged hands, since multiple guns can be run on one check. This is a 29% increase over October, and a 42% increase from November 2007. It is very likely that this number would have been higher, if many of the most popular firearms vanished from gun store shelves.

Anonymous said...

I am left to speculate as to whether those who fail to submit will be gathered up and placed in detention centers?

Although outdated, this article makes one wonder about the what ifs scenarios: