The Huguenots and the Second Amendment

 

Francis1-1What I learned from yesterday’s Ask Me Anything was that overwhelmingly, Ricochet wants to know more about the history of the Huguenots and their relationship to the Second Amendment. (Or, at least, Tenacious D does.)

When Ben Carson suggested that an armed populace would have been better able to resist the Holocaust, he walked off the history cliff for two reasons. The first was his failure to appreciate what it took to defeat a modern engine of death like the Nazi war machine — one that rolled over armies comprised of millions of trained soldiers with guns, planes, tanks, and artillery in Czechoslovakia, Austria, Poland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Yugoslavia, and Greece, and often did so in a matter of days.

He also missed a chance to explain to Wolf that in all likelihood, the Founders were thinking about the extermination of a European religious minority. But that minority wasn’t the Jews — it was the Huguenots.

What he should have said was, “Wolf, as you should know, if the Huguenots had been armed, their chances would have been a lot better. It all started with the Catholics taking away their weapons. Every American in the eighteenth century would have known that.”

And they would have.

Now, historians differ about the number of dead in the French wars of religion and even its exact dates. But they now estimate that between 1562 and 1598, the war claimed between two and four million lives, and could well be described, in modern vocabulary, as a Huguenot genocide.

We all know the background. The Reformation was spread by the invention of the printing press. For the first time, there was an inexpensive way to mass-produce and disseminate books. This fueled a wildcat spread of information — in all disciplines — across Europe’s borders. (Those familiar with this period know exactly why I wonder if we should just bomb the undersea cables before this Internet business gets out of hand.)

Francis I firmly opposed heresy, of course, given that he ruled by divine right, but he was genuinely unsure whether the early Lutheranism that arrived in France during his reign was heretical. (Catholic doctrine was as yet unclear.) Distracted, perhaps, by foreign affairs — he was building an alliance with the Ottoman Empire — he failed to see that of course this was heresy, and moreover, a revolutionary doctrine. As the schism developed, he attempted to steer a middle course. But in 1534, the Affaire des Placards woke him from his naive fantasy about “moderate Protestants.”

Overnight, posters appeared in public throughout France warning of “Genuine articles on the horrific, great and unbearable abuses of the papal mass, invented directly contrary to the Holy Supper of our Lord, sole mediator and sole savior Jesus Christ.” These directly attacked the Catholic conception of the Eucharist and supported Zwingli’s position on the Mass, denying the physical existence of Christ in the sacraments. Most terrifyingly, he awoke to find such a poster on the door of his bedchamber — an unthinkable security breach. It left him deeply shaken.

Fast-forward to 1535, when the ambassadors from the Ottoman Empire accompanied him to the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris to share with him the satisfying sight of Protestant sympathizers burning at the stake.

His heir, Henry II, was in no doubt that he was dealing with a heresy. On June 27, 1551, he issued the Edict of Châteaubriand: Protestants would no longer be allowed to worship, assemble, nor even speak of religion. And the 1557 Edict of Compiègne imposed the death penalty on those who preached illegally — or even assembled to discuss it.

The repression only hastened the onset of the civil war. By 1560, violent religious extremists were destroying images and statues in Catholic churches. Huguenot rhetoric changed: At first, they had opposed the policies of the monarch. Now, they began opposing monarchy itself.

Eight wars ensued. Religion had been the basis of the European social consensus for a millennium; the entire social order rested upon the belief in a single faith. And the entire social order collapsed. France was laid to waste, the crops wiped out; citizens suffered a nightmare of destruction. Whole villages were massacred. Famine and disease killed the survivors. Details here.

Now, I confess that here my memory is failing me. I can’t remember when, exactly, the policy of disarming all but the Catholic nobility came into effect. But I do remember that it did. Does anyone on Ricochet remember? I know that it happened, but I can’t remember when.

In any event, Catherine de Medici — the king’s mother, an Italian, a Catholic, and a member of the family for whom Machiavelli wrote The Prince — is widely believed to have instigated the 1572 St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. (I believe some historians contest her role.) The king’s sister was to be married in Paris to a Protestant, Henry III. The wedding attracted France’s wealthiest and most prominent Huguenots. The king gave the orders that they be assassinated.

The extermination began suddenly, with the ringing of church bells. Admiral Coligny — the leader of the Huguenots — was stabbed and his body thrown out a window. There’s no evidence (as far as I know) that Charles IX and his mother intended the bloodshed to go beyond the assassination of the their leaders, but the murders inspired the mob to a frenzied massacre of Protestants that rocked the Continent. Catholic clergy were said to have fallen upon unarmed men, women, and children. Commoners began hunting Protestants throughout Paris, barricading the streets so they couldn’t escape. The bodies of the dead were collected in carts and thrown in the Seine. The fish were said to have been poisoned. The slaughter spread to other cities and the countryside. In the end, according to contemporary historical estimates, as many as 30,000 were killed.

The Huguenot movement was crippled by the loss of its leadership. Those who remained were radicalized; those who could, fled — to Germany, Switzerland, England, Ireland, and, of course, what was to become the United States.

Their descendents included George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and Paul Revere.

The history of the Second Amendment is of course complicated, and this was certainly not the only event on the Founders’ minds. But if Wolf Blitzer had interviewed them at the time, very likely this is how it would have gone:

Wolf: But to make the comparison, Mr. Washington, to Catholic France, the slaughter of millions of Huguenots by the Catholics, the devastation that erupted in Europe and around the world, to the United States of America, I want you to reflect on what that potentially means.

George Washington: I think the likelihood of the Catholics being able to accomplish their goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed. There’s a reason these dictatorial people take the guns first.

And about that, he would have been right.

Whether this has any relevance to America now, I don’t know. But if you’re going to argue this point from history, that’s the example you want.

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  1. Alfred T. Cooper Member
    Alfred T. Cooper
    @

    Fascinating! Thanks for this, Claire. I know shamefully little about the Huguenots, unfortunately.

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: But in 1534, the Affaire des Placards woke him from his naive fantasy about “moderate Protestants.”

    Good to know there’s some historical precedent for European leaders getting over naive fantasies about so-called “moderates” ;)

    • #1
  2. John Seymour Member
    John Seymour
    @

    Nice post.  And thank you for assuming you were just refreshing my memory, that was very kind.

    But about this:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: We all know the background. The Reformation was spread by the invention of the printing press. For the first time, there was an inexpensive way to mass-produce and disseminate books. This fueled a wildcat spread of information — in all disciplines — across Europe’s borders. (Those familiar with this period know exactly why I wonder if we should just bomb the undersea cables before this Internet business gets out of hand.)

    I did see that earlier post – it almost made me join before I actually did.  Suggesting we bomb the undersea cables suggests we are at risk of our social order being disrupted by the Islamists, rather than recognizing that it is the disruption of the Islamic social order that is the fundamental driver of Islamism.  Suggesting that we should bomb the cables seems like suggesting that the Huguenots (or other Protestants) should have destroyed the printing presses because all that information was causing a lot of trouble.

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  3. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: When Ben Carson suggested that an armed populace would have been better able to resist the Holocaust, he walked off the history cliff for two reasons. The first was his failure to appreciate what it took to defeat a modern machinery of death like the Nazi war machine — one that rolled over armies comprised of millions of trained soldiers with guns, planes, tanks, and artillery in Czechoslovakia, Austria, Poland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Yugoslavia, and Greece, and often did so in a matter of days.

    No one thinks that the Jews would have been able to defeat the Wehrmacht.  What would likely have happened is that the existence of 6 million more partisans would have hampered the Nazi war effort and maybe shortened the war.  What kind of resources did the Germans have to redirect to put down the Warsaw uprising (when, as I understand it, they had like 2 pistols between them)?

    • #3
  4. Robert McReynolds Inactive
    Robert McReynolds
    @RobertMcReynolds

    Claire you are a fountain of wisdom. I am glad you are on our side.

    • #4
  5. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    John Seymour: Suggesting we bomb the undersea cables suggests we are at risk of our social order being disrupted by the Islamists, rather than recognizing that it is the disruption of the Islamic social order that is the fundamental driver of Islamism.

    Well, we do seem to be at risk of it. Why else would Peter have asked how we can destroy ISIS? I don’t think it makes much sense to destroy it if they mean us no harm.

    Whatever the cause — and I agree that it’s caused by a disruption of the Islamic social order — there’s no doubt that their ideology is being spread is over the Internet.

    The Internet will shape the course of history as much as the printing press, I’m sure. We could stand athwart history and yell “Stop.”

    • #5
  6. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Miss Berlinski, I love hyperbole as much as the next guy–indeed, more–but the notion that the Nazi war machine is straight out of a Metallica video makes me raise an eyebrow. I would like to see evidence that it could have beaten an alliance had the Czechs, Austrians, Italians, &c. fought in ’38. I suppose everyone knows the Nazis invaded the Rhineland with orders to retreat should they encounter resistance; & that Mussolini mobilized troops on the Austrian border in case civilized people found the manliness required to do something serious. To applaud an army vigorously untested by battle seems wrong to me…

    Mr. Carson has the American’s habit of confusing morality or principle with horse sense. I understand that your countrymen no longer like a man who stands on principle; that is democratic; it is perhaps the polite thing to do; but I hold to the older opinion, that Americans can afford to be moral. For all his wrongheadedness, he was right to say that all men simply because they are men would wish to face danger armed, that they may not be dishonored. I suppose many Jews took offense at what he said; at any right, they had the right to take offense, regardless of their political opinions about American conservatism. But there is no way citizens are going to sympathize with or be supportive of the disarmed, whoever they may be. The man was speaking as a citizen. This is very rare in America–rarer than anywhere else one encounters citizens, maybe.

    I will also say, Romanians & Hungarians need not be saved by your decency: They embraced & suffered their tyrants, who themselves embraced & suffered Nazi tyranny. Like the Croats in Yugoslavia, or nearly. There was no decent politics in that part of the world; only anguish; & ecstasy; & then terror.

    Also, I like intrigue rhetoric as much as the next guy, but how could anyone read the Epistle Dedicatory of the Prince without learning the contempt in which Machiavelli held the Medici, with whom he was also acquainted as tortured republican to his princiary tormentors.

    With apologies, let me play the historian for a while. Henri III was a Catholic king, weak, though not sickly like his brother Charles IX–the end of the Valois dynasty was not pretty… He was upstaged by the dukes & cardinales of Lorraine, the de Guise family, who seem to have owned the Catholic League fanatics.

    It was Henri de Navarre who married Marguerite de France just before the St. Bartholomew’s day Massacre–she was the only one of the many children of Catherine e Medici who made it, as it were…–& he was crowned as Henri IV in 1589, renouncing his faith, which any good politician should do. This young prince from Navarre was the leader of the Huguenots, not the Admiral. He fled & lived & conquered.

    This is the man who is said to have said, France deserves a Mass. Also, that having been crowned king, he would proceed to conquer his country. A Catholic fanatic–Ravaillac, a monk, I believe–stabbed him to death in 1610. The king had the aristocrat’s misunderstanding of revolution. So he left his cruel boy in the hands of Catholics.

    It was Louis XIII–or Richelieu, if you prefer–who destroyed the power of the Huguenots. & then his son Louis XIV who revoked the rights granted to Huguenots by his grandfather. That’s about a century–the seventeenth–& one of the more Enlightened ones…

    The disarmament of France is the work of Richeliu & Mazarin under the reign of Louix XIV–the Fronde was the last of the aristocratic attempts to defend their political-military privileges. The consequences of rational centralization of politics & administration are written down in Tocqueville’s book…

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  7. Jules PA Member
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Just like Goodmen and Badmen do good or bad things with a guns, so too with the Internet. I think Humans will show the condition of their heart and mind with any tools available.

    I love this post and my poor knowledge of the Huguenots is improved.

    • #7
  8. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    So the Edict of Nantes dates to 1598–the toleration of Huguenots within their cities-fortresses–the last of which to fall was La Rochelle in 1628–& it’s 1685 for the revocation of the edict of toleration.

    The French wars of religion were ugly, but nowhere near as devastating as the German or Empire wars, which came first & last. I guess you could says 1530 is when the war of the League of Augsburg started. It was 1648 when the Thirty Years War ended. By that time, maybe a third of the European population had been slaughtered or otherwise killed…

    The English religious-civil wars & rebellions were even less ugly than the French.

    But only the Spanish had it easy–they were least modern of all, so to speak–& did worst by the Jews, by the way–& it was only involvement in the imperial wars that cost them anything.

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  9. Pilgrim Coolidge
    Pilgrim
    @Pilgrim

    Guns in private hands only would be useful for protection in a mass civil disorder, i.e. rampaging mobs but not against organized military or police.

    The American Muslim community is the most likely to face that threat and should be buying firearms against the day that another 9/11 scale attack occurs.  The reaction to CNN coverage of a line of burka-clad women popping targets at the local range would be interesting.

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  10. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Titus Techera: It was Henri de Navarre who married Marguerite de France just before the St. Bartholomew’s day Massacre–she was the only one of the many children of Catherine e Medici who made it, as it were…–& he was crowned as Henri IV in 1589

    I wrote that badly — I was trying to make it simple, but obviously made it more confusing. Catherine de Medici was the mother of King Charles IX; he’s the one who gave the assassination orders. The wedding was of the king’s sister Margaret to the Protestant Henry III of Navarre — the future Henry IV of “Paris is worth a mass” fame. Coligny was “a leader.” But a significant one.

    • #10
  11. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: When Ben Carson suggested that an armed populace would have been better able to resist the Holocaust, he walked off the history cliff for two reasons. The first was his failure to appreciate what it took to defeat a modern engine of death like the Nazi war machine — one that rolled over armies comprised of millions of trained soldiers with guns, planes, tanks, and artillery in Czechoslovakia, Austria, Poland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Yugoslavia, and Greece, and often did so in a matter of days.

    Same thing Bill Maher says, in discrediting the Second Amendment.  They didn’t come with tanks and strategic bombing to wipe out neighborhoods.  They banged on the door and ordered unarmed people into the street and out to their fates.  By the time you can answer why you personally would need a gun, it’s too late to shop for one.

    • #11
  12. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    I disagree with the notion that if the Jews had been armed it would have made no difference. It would have made a great difference.

    It would have substantially raised the cost of sending troops into Jewish neighborhoods to round up the population. And not just the cost in German lives. It would not have happened so quietly so that the world didn’t even really know about most of it until the war was over. Armed resistance makes the news.

    I honestly don’t understand why Jews would be offended by Carson’s remarks. They themselves make it a point, today, to face hostility with force of arms. What Jew who lost relatives in the Holocaust doesn’t wonder what might have happened if they had resisted instead of going to their deaths so passively, so that a handful of German soldiers could murder so many of them?

    Ask yourself this: Suppose you and your grown sons were in an Anne Frank style attic, armed to the teeth, when the Germans arrived to take you away. Would you have surrendered quietly or gone down shooting?

    • #12
  13. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Titus Techera: Richelieu, if you prefer–who destroyed the power of the Huguenots.

    Cardinal Richelieu destroyed the resistance, but I think his ideal of a nobility with arms under the control of the king had less to do with that than with his vision of centralized state power.

    I figured I’d end the story with the massacre, but for those with a taste for blood and gore, Titus is right: The bloodshed continues. By this point, though, the story’s importance (for Americans) was in the Huguenot emigration to the colonies. 

    • #13
  14. Benjamin Glaser Inactive
    Benjamin Glaser
    @BenjaminGlaser

    I descend from Huguenots (the Flournoy’s) from Rouen who fled to Geneva after the Edict of Châteaubriand and sat under the preaching of John Calvin (himself a French refugee, Calvin dedicated his Institutes of Christian Religion to Francis I) and his ecclesiastical descendants before heading to Virginia in the early 1700’s.

    The history of the Huguenots is pretty fascinating. If you are ever in Charleston, SC head to the Huguenot Church. The folks there are pretty knowledgeable about their ancestors.

    • #14
  15. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Man With the Axe: I disagree with the notion that if the Jews had been armed it would have made no difference. It would have made a great difference. It would have substantially raised the cost of sending troops into Jewish neighborhoods to round up the population. And not just the cost in German lives. It would not have happened so quietly so that the world didn’t even really know about most of it until the war was over. Armed resistance makes the news.

    I agree to an extent.  We tend to not only use hindsight in deciding what a genocide victim would have done but also confer to them our sense of self defense and survival.  That is why it seems so insane when an Arab Christian patiently kneels waiting for his ISIS captor to brutally behead him.  “Why doesn’t he at least go down fighting?!?” I always find myself thinking!  For that matter why did the Jews line up peacefully  to board the trains?  Was it only because they didn’t have guns?  For the most part they didn’t try to sneak across boarders either.  Why did thousands of people in the USSR quietly go along with the police only to disappear forever?

    I believe disarmament is definitely a factor in subduing a populace but there is also the matter of an understanding of what the actual threat is, the society’s general understanding of the citizen’s relationship to authority, etc…..  It seems that many times in both the Holocaust and Soviet purges the victims told themselves it was only temporary and/or a mistake. They chose not to fight back as they would either wait for everything to be cleared up or until the political fervor inevitably died down.  The choice the Jews thought they were making was between sure death from fighting back or loss of possessions and relocation (at least temporarily) but possible survival.

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  16. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    If guns in the hands on the people is not a threat to the regime, why did Japan disarm its population of all guns it could during the Tokugawa period?

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  17. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    Concretevol: That is why it seems so insane when an Arab Christian patiently kneels waiting for his ISIS captor to brutally behead him. “Why doesn’t he at least go down fighting?!?” I always find myself thinking!

    I’m not arguing your point, with which I agree. But I have read from a guy who had been a fighter with ISIS that the killers tell their captives that they are going to do a practice execution, a dry run, just for the cameras. For some reason, the victims, who should know better, fall for it.

    Remember that one Italian guy who went down fighting when al Qaeda started filming his beheading?

    • #17
  18. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Man With the Axe: Remember that one Italian guy who went down fighting when al Qaeda started filming his beheading?

    I do. I’m sure we all gruesomely fantasize about what we’d do in that situation, and I’m sure we all like to imagine those would be our last words. (Nationality adapted, of course.)

    • #18
  19. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Titus Techera: Richelieu, if you prefer–who destroyed the power of the Huguenots.

    Cardinal Richelieu destroyed the resistance, but I think his ideal of a nobility with arms under the control of the king had less to do with that than with his vision of centralized state power.

    I figured I’d end the story with the massacre, but for those with a taste for blood and gore, Titus is right: The bloodshed continues. By this point, though, the story’s importance (for Americans) was in the Huguenot emigration to the colonies.

    I do not believe either Cardinal wanted an aristocracy of any kind, but that is perhaps a contentious opinion. Both wanted centralized state power–that seems beyond doubt.

    I think the religious wars are a useful education for Americans, who seem too peaceful & reasonable to me–it seems to me Americans do not know what religions really used to be like, what kind of Christianity they come from.

    One hears Americans who have learned about Muslims these days try to teach others–so I would say I am not the first nor the only one to think this way.

    One hears, too, of American conservatives or liberals bemoan the Pilgrim fathers for one reason or the other, though one rarely hears them reflect on whether the Puritan Founding would have been possible at all without fanaticism.

    One even hears some American Catholics remind other Americans about the anti-Christmas celebration past of American Protestantism.

    You do well yourself to remind people that the activists, as they know would be called, among the original protestants used to take great pleasure in desecrating Catholic churches. This is held by conservatives to be bad in the case of the later French revolutionaries, at least…

    Perhaps the fanaticism & murderous quality of Calvin & other holy rulers should not be forgotten.

    It took a lot of enlightenment of the most devious, unprincipled, conspiratorial kind–to say nothing of all too human appetite & commerce–to get thinking about politics to move away from this & to tame or privatize religion.

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  20. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Bryan G. Stephens:If guns in the hands on the people is not a threat to the regime, why did Japan disarm its population of all guns it could during the Tokugawa period?

    The peasant-shogun–Taiko–Toyotomi Hideyoshi–Yieyaus Tokugawa’s predecessor started this. I am not sure whether his predecessor did anything quite like it–I mean, Oda Nobunaga, but at least this comports with the later examples: He destroyed the fortress-monasteries of the Buddhist monks, which were an independent power in Sengoku Jidai Japan…

    You are of course right that the Asian model has always been to disarm people. This is because empire is really difficult to exercise without creating the kind of military aristocracy that makes empire impossible. Why military empire so rarely lasts…

    I believe the origin of pretty much all the exotic Asian weapons that Europeans & Americans have become fascinated with in the last couple of centuries–or less–is explained this way: Notice how little metal is involved & how it is supposed to be easily concealed. These are, in short, slave weapons, & testament to the unwillingness of some to be slaves…

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  21. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Titus Techera:

    Bryan G. Stephens:If guns in the hands on the people is not a threat to the regime, why did Japan disarm its population of all guns it could during the Tokugawa period?

    The peasant-shogun–Taiko–Toyotomi Hideyoshi–Yieyaus Tokugawa’s predecessor started this. I am not sure whether his predecessor did anything quite like it–I mean, Oda Nobunaga, but at least this comports with the later examples: He destroyed the fortress-monasteries of the Buddhist monks, which were an independent power in Sengoku Jidai Japan…

    You are of course right that the Asian model has always been to disarm people. This is because empire is really difficult to exercise without creating the kind of military aristocracy that makes empire impossible. Why military empire so rarely lasts…

    I believe the origin of pretty much all the exotic Asian weapons that Europeans & Americans have become fascinated with in the last couple of centuries–or less–is explained this way: Notice how little metal is involved & how it is supposed to be easily concealed. These are, in short, slave weapons, & testament to the unwillingness of some to be slaves…

    Hard to get the training.

    I always like to point out that the 4 heroes who die in the Seven Samuri, are all shot.

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  22. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Man With the Axe:I disagree with the notion that if the Jews had been armed it would have made no difference. It would have made a great difference.

    I believe people who do know German history or German Jews’ history or think they do have the better argument. They would point out that Germany was disarmed as a nation, as were all European nations. & that any attempt at armament would have led to catastrophe. If you think the Kulturkampf a shock, wait till you see a real kulturkampf… & German Jews were the most integrated, secular, assimilated Jews in Europe. They wanted to pass for German citizens, not for Maccabee fanatics. It did not work out in Germany; it did in England…

    Your very reasonable question should be addressed to human nature. Now, I take it you are American. Would you say to black Americans who descend from slaves, why did their forefathers just sit & take it?

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  23. Benjamin Glaser Inactive
    Benjamin Glaser
    @BenjaminGlaser

    (As a Calvinist, the execution of Michael Servetus is something full of myth and hyperbole. Everyone in Europe had a death sentence out for Servetus, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, civil authorities, et al for his belligerent anti-Trinitarianism. The fact he was finally caught, tried, and executed in Geneva is more the fault of an arrogant Servetus than John Calvin, who pleaded for clemency and a quick death rather than burning. There is a certain caricature out there about John Calvin’s authority in Geneva. He neither had dictatorial control in the city nor actually won many battles with the town’s consistory.)

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  24. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Bryan G. Stephens: heroes

    So next weekend is Ricochet Seven Samurai talk weekend. That’s fine with me.

    There are other Ricohetti who love the movie, including one who thinks it is the best ever made! I am partial to John Ford’s Western, like Kurosawa, but I confess I am not adverse to the claim.

    You are of course right about the movie & the importance of the introduction of firearms in Japan. I love how the musket-soldier killer, the most proud of the samurai goes out into the dark to do his work. That is all of the best that’s true about the samurai in one suggestion…

    It’s not primarily a matter of training, it’s that once you have soldiers, you’re gonna have wars. Chinese forbad military arms long before the Japanese.

    Let me tell you a Herodotus story: The Lydian king Croesus is conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia, after starting a stupid war because of a stupid reading of an oracle. The Persian king has him on a pyre very reasonably, but stops shy of sending him to heaven express when the guy says, I can help! I can tell you how to pacify the people: Take away all their arms & instead give them musical instruments & crafts. In a generation, they will have forgotten manliness entirely. The other lesson of the vanquished: The Persian soldiers are looting the newly-conquered capital, Sardis, & that’s what they do. Croesus asks Cyrus: Why let’em do this? Cyrus raises an eyebrow. Croesus asks: To whom does this city belong? Cyrus says: Me. Croesus says: Precisely! So that then is the birth of military oligarchy…

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  25. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: When Ben Carson suggested that an armed populace would have been better able to resist the Holocaust, he walked off the history cliff for two reasons. The first was his failure to appreciate what it took to defeat a modern engine of death like the Nazi war machine

    Besides the point that an attempt of a few private citizens with small arms to defeat the Wehrmacht would certainly have failed.

    The point is that they would have had the ability to exercise their right to try.

    Also, the midnight raid would have become a whole lot more interesting (and hazardous) for the Gestapo had there been the real possibility of their meeting with armed resistance.

    ArmedPeople

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  26. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Benjamin Glaser:(As a Calvinist, the execution of Michael Servetus is something full of myth and hyperbole. Everyone in Europe had a death sentence out for Servetus, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, civil authorities, et al for his belligerent anti-Trinitarianism. The fact he was finally caught, tried, and executed in Geneva is more the fault of an arrogant Servetus than John Calvin, who pleaded for clemency and a quick death rather than burning. There is a certain caricature out there about John Calvin’s authority in Geneva. He neither had dictatorial control in the city nor actually won many battles with the town’s consistory.)

    I don’t think Calvin was the bloodthirtiest of his fath in Geneva. I also think Servetus got away from Geneva once, didn’t he? But the fact that all Christian kingdoms preferred to kill people than to have them yap the mouth about whatever concerned them is simply not possibly squared with say Jefferson saying that other people’s opinions neither pick his pocket nor break his leg. Then again, this latter account of what American intercourse has to fear is not ennobling…

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  27. John Seymour Member
    John Seymour
    @

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Well, we do seem to be at risk of it. Why else would Peter have asked how we can destroy ISIS? I don’t think it makes much sense to destroy it if they mean us no harm.

    I disagree – ISIS can harm us, sure, but they don’t have the capability of disrupting our society.  And in a rather cold-blooded analysis of the toll, they can’t do much more than inflict pinpricks.  The greater danger has always been that in ill considered reaction we harm the fabric of our society much more than ISIS can.  So while they can use the internet to reach out and strike us, the internet is undermining their society by making it clear to everyone that it is a failure.

    Open, free societies gain from free exchange of information and that gain dwarfs the potential harms.  In a sense, the Democrats recognize this – when asked who their enemies are they, almost to a person, identify Republicans, gun owners or other typically conservative groups.  They know ISIS can hurt us, but can’t destroy us, that’s the progressives’ job.

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  28. John Seymour Member
    John Seymour
    @

    Titus Techera: I believe the origin of pretty much all the exotic Asian weapons that Europeans & Americans have become fascinated with in the last couple of centuries–or less–is explained this way: Notice how little metal is involved & how it is supposed to be easily concealed. These are, in short, slave weapons, & testament to the unwillingness of some to be slaves…

    Really interesting observation – thank you.

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  29. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    John Seymour:

    Titus Techera: I believe the origin of pretty much all the exotic Asian weapons that Europeans & Americans have become fascinated with in the last couple of centuries–or less–is explained this way: Notice how little metal is involved & how it is supposed to be easily concealed. These are, in short, slave weapons, & testament to the unwillingness of some to be slaves…

    Really interesting observation – thank you.

    You are quite welcome. The use of metal weapons in the wars of the various regimes that made sure to enslave lower classes by these laws against metal weaponry closes the possibility that metal was that rare. It is obviously a superior material in about every way except weight.

    There is another thing from Herodotus. There are stories about many different peoples or races in the book. One thing they have in common is, whenever a tribe finds iron, they turn really murderous & unjust-

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  30. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Man With th”e Axe: Remember that one Italian guy who went down fighting when al Qaeda started filming his beheading?

    Fabrizio Quattrocchi.

    “Vi faccio vedere come muore un Italiano!”

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