I was going to take a week off from writing my daily column but my reverie was interrupted because I started thinking about gun violence, then about violence, then about how to resist violence, then how resisting violence might be used to set a general direction and overall strategy for the GVP. And at this point, if you don’t know what the acronym GVP stands for, God bless and go read something else.
You may recall that during the 2016 Presidential campaign, the guy who now runs HUD, DR. Ben Carson, began actively competing with Schmucky Don to say the dumbest thing on the campaign trail which could be said. And what Carson said, and he double-downed after he was rightly referred to as a dumb-ass and a jerk, was that European Jews might have prevented the Holocaust had they been armed.
The idiot who represents Alaska in the House, Don Young, made a shockingly similar statement in January of this year, which only proves that you don’t have to run for President to say something which is completely stupid and outside the knowledge band of the most brain-challenged person you could ever find.
What Carson and Young were doing, whether they knew it or not, was embellishing what has become a fundamental narrative of Gun-nut Nation, namely, that violence is bad, but it can also be good if the latter occurs in response to the former. So why not keep a pistol under your pillow just in case a tank comes rumbling down the street? Nobody’s saying that someone could work wonders by shooting off a couple of rounds against a military force. But the whole point is that armed, self-defense gives you an option when the threat of violence leaves you no other choice.
There is, however, another response to violence that Gun-nut Nation ignores, and that’s the requirement to ‘resist not evil,’ by turning the ‘other cheek.’ I think it’s entirely appropriate to consider the importance of Jesus’ command on the day that we commemorate his birth. But his commitment to non-violence is not the only response to violence which doesn’t involve committing what we call a ‘virtuous violent’ act. What I am referring to is the concept of non-violent, passive resistance, or what Gandhi called satyagraha, a strategy for confronting violence which he preached for most of his adult life.
But what do you do if the violence you are confronting is so enormous, so overwhelming and so destructive that whether you challenge it or not, you’re going to wind up dead? On November 20, 1938, Gandhi published an open letter to the Jewish community of Germany, which had just suffered through the depredations known as Kristallnacht, which presaged the beginnings of the Final Solution, the Holocaust and the destruction of 6 million European Jews.
What was Gandhi’s advice for how the Jews should respond? In Gandhi’s own words: “Let the Jews who claim to be the chosen race prove their title by choosing the way of non-violence for vindicating their position on earth.” He then justified what would be the slaughter of the Jewish community because “to the god fearing, death has no terror. It is a joyful sleep to be followed by a waking that would be all the more refreshing for the long sleep.”
For those for whom violence should never be the response to violence, this missive from Gandhi to a population about to endure the worst and most destructive violent behavior ever imagined on the face of the Earth should give pause. If we reject the idea that walking around with a gun is too extreme a response to violence, then Gandhi’s belief represents the other extreme. Which means that on this Christmas day, we should spend a little time trying to figure out if there is a third way. And we need to think of this third way as not being something between the two extremes, but something that will really work.