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Rep. John Lewis Schools Rush Limbaugh on Civil Rights Movement

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Posted on Jan 20, 2013
Screenshot via Media Matters

A few days ahead of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Rush Limbaugh used the civil rights movement to advance his pro-gun agenda. After equating the fight for civil rights in the 1960s with the recent opposition to gun control, Limbaugh asked on his radio program Friday, “If a lot of African-Americans back in the ’60s had guns and the legal right to use them for self-defense, you think they would have needed Selma?”

He then singled out Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who was beaten during the 1965 voting rights march in Alabama from Selma to Montgomery, despite being unarmed. Lewis was, and continued to be, a nonviolent protester throughout the movement.

“I’m just asking. If John Lewis, who says he was beat upside the head, if John Lewis had had a gun, would he have been beat upside the head on the bridge?” he asked.

In a written statement responding to Limbaugh, Lewis reminded the conservative radio host that “Our goal in the Civil Rights Movement was not to injure or destroy but to build a sense of community, to reconcile people to the true oneness of all humanity.”

Lewis’ statement continues:

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African Americans in the 60s could have chosen to arm themselves, but we made a conscious decision not to.  We were convinced that peace could not be achieved through violence.  Violence begets violence, and we believed the only way to achieve peaceful ends was through peaceful means.  We took a stand against an unjust system, and we decided to use this faith as our shield and the power of compassion as our defense.

“And that is why this nation celebrates the genius and the elegance of Martin Luther King Jr.‘s work and philosophy.  Through the power of non-violent action, Dr. King accomplished something that no movement, no action of government, no war, no legislation, or strategy of politics had ever achieved in this nation’s history.

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In case you want to listen Limbaugh’s rant, it’s posted below.

—Posted by Tracy Bloom.


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