Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher — the Republican seeking to unseat Democrat Marcy Kaptur from her longtime position in Congress — has released an Internet video blaming the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide on gun control.
In the video, a shotgun-wielding Mr. Wurzelbacher loads the weapon, takes aim at several red and yellow spheres that appear to be fruits or vegetables at an outdoor firing range with mountains in the background. He then blows the objects to pieces while a narrator speaks.
"In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were exterminated. In 1939, Germany established gun control. From 1938 to 1945, 6 million Jews and 7 million others, unable to defend themselves, were exterminated," the voice says in the video.
Mr. Wurzelbacher, still holding the gun, ends the 40-second video by speaking directly in the camera, saying "I love America."
He did not return telephone calls seeking comment Tuesday, but defended the video to the Politico Web site, saying: "Different countries around the world have tried to disarm their citizens, and then have tried to exterminate their own now-unarmed citizens. If people are looking to be offended by this video, they are probably serving a political agenda. Unfortunately, there are a lot of whiners out there."
The narrator of the video describes gun ownership as "our last line of defense."
"If you hunt or just like shooting guns, the Second Amendment will always be a good thing. History also tells us it's our last line of defense in the face of an out-of-control government," the description states.
The National Jewish Democratic Council criticized the Republican congressional candidate, who is from Springfield Township and faces Miss Kaptur for the 9th District seat on the Nov. 6 ballot.
"Using the memories of the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust to make a political point is never appropriate, under any circumstances," said David A. Harris, the council's president. "For Ohio Republican House candidate Samuel Wurzelbacher to imply that these innocent lives were taken because of gun-control laws is simply beyond the pale. Wurzelbacher — who is just the latest in a long line of Republicans who seem to think it is acceptable to use the Holocaust for political gain — must apologize and remove this offensive video immediately."
Rabbi Alan Sokobin, rabbi emeritus at The Temple-Congregation Shomer Emunim in Sylvania, dismissed the video's message.
"A plumber's shotgun would not have saved the millions of Armenians against the juggernaut of Turkish forces.
"A plumber's shotgun would not have saved one Jew against the mechanized heavy armaments of the Nazi regime. A plumber's shotgun is only a plumber's shotgun," he said.
Miss Kaptur could not be reached for comment but her campaign released a statement.
"Joe's revisionism will have to speak for itself," the statement said. "Meanwhile, the Republican candidate for Congress is following the script: Confuse the facts and talk about anything except how we get people back to work and create more jobs in America. As the local standard-bearer for state Republicans and Mitt Romney, Joe ‘the Plumber' has sprung another leak in Ohio."
Although the controversial video posted on youtube.com was getting a lot of media attention, it had not been viewed widely. It had been viewed more than 300 times last night. Viewers at that time registered 22 "likes" and "213 dislikes." Comments posted below the video were overwhelmingly in opposition.
One viewer wrote: "As a Jew I find this rude and offensive in a way I couldn't believe possible. To exploit the genocide of Armenians and the Holocaust as a political ploy is reprehensible in a way I could not begin to describe. You should be ashamed of yourself, and the people who recommended this campaign to you should be fired. This is America and you are welcome to say whatever you want, but that doesn't mean I have to respect you for spouting hurtful, awful things."
Other viewers were less eloquent.
"Joe the Dumber," responded another Internet viewer.
Mr. Wurzelbacher is the second person to challenge Miss Kaptur in as many elections who has been in the national spotlight because of the Holocaust. Rich Iott, whose attempt to unseat Miss Kaptur in the last congressional election was derailed when pictures emerged of him wearing a Nazi uniform in a World War II re-enactment.
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said Mr. Wurzelbacher should be ashamed of the video.
"It is absolutely atrocious and it is the worst kind of campaigning," Mr. Redfern said. "We thought two years ago it was bad when Rich Iott dressed up like a Nazi. [Mr. Wurzelbacher] is an embarrassment to the Republican Party and I am curious if Mitt Romney and John McCain still support him."
Mr. Wurzelbacher's thoughts on gun control and the Holocaust are not original. Several books have offered the same hypothesis, including Lethal Laws: Gun Control Is the Key to Genocide, written in 1994 by Jay Simkin, Alan Rice, and Aaron Zelman.
"This book gives you hard proof that the downside to ‘gun control' is genocide, not inconvenience to firearms owners. ... This work proves that ‘gun control,' which is really civilian disarmament, delivers not safe streets but mountains of corpses," wrote Chris Stark, director of Gun Owners Alliance, Colorado Springs, in an online review of the book.
Mr. Wurzelbacher has other videos on his Web site, including one that supports the right to keep guns. In that video, in a fictional situation, he warns a "liberal" who is in favor of gun control that criminals probably already know where he lives and the fact that he is unarmed.
Jon Stainbrook, chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party, said he supports Mr. Wurzelbacher and his stance on the Second Amendment.
"I think it is all about the right to bear arms and I think it is something Joe Wurzelbacher feels very strongly about," Mr. Stainbrook said. "It is a huge tragedy that these two groups of people were unable to defend themselves against their governments because their governments took away their guns."
Contact Ignazio Messina at: email@example.com or 419-724-6171.