|Quick! The Alka-Seltzer!|
When Sean Spicer noted that even Hitler had not used chemical weapons against his people, I immediately knew what he was talking about. It is a familiar observation. Poison gas was used by all sides in the First World War. Hitler had stockpiles of it. Yet he allowed Germany to go down to total defeat without ever resorting to using it.
This was probably not for purely humanitarian reasons. The problem might just as well have been that, after the experience of World War 1, England, France, and the US also had their stockpiles of poison gas. Establish the precedent, and it would probably be a wash. Maybe useful once, in one vital, desperate battle, but no more.
There is another theory: that Hitler, having himself been gassed during the First World War, had a visceral aversion to it.
But I am utterly surprised by the public and press reaction to Spicer referring to this: that it was not true, and insensitive, because of the Jews Hitler gassed in the concentration camps.
What Spicer actually said was “We didn't use chemical weapons in World War II. Someone as despicable as Hitler ... didn't even sink to using chemical weapons.”
Exactly right. The preceding sentence makes it clear that he was referring to a weapon of war. Even without the specific reference to the war, an electric chair, a gas chamber, or a guillotine may qualify as a weapon, but it is not the sort of thing we usually think of when we use the term. It should not have been necessary to add “in war” in the second sentence to make this clear. If it were, this is a trivial error of clarity in an off-the-cuff spoken statement. We do not normally require precision in such circumstances.
In reaction, the Anne Frank Centre released this statement:
Excuse me, but are they nuts?