On Guns, Conservatives Rewrite and Disrespect Black History

Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. dismantles and dismisses an argument by conservatives that there might not have been a need for the civil rights movement if blacks had had guns and the legal right to use them for self-defense.

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Rush Limbaugh (Ethan Miller/Getty Images Entertainment)

Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. dismantles and dismisses an argument by conservatives that there might not have been a need for the civil rights movement if blacks had had guns and the legal right to use them for self-defense.

Rush Limbaugh thinks John Lewis should have been armed.

"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 said recently on his radio show, referencing the 1965 voting rights campaign in which Lewis, now a congressman from Georgia, had his skull fractured by Alabama state troopers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. "If John Lewis had had a gun, would he have been beat upside the head on the bridge?"

Right. Because a shootout between protesters and state troopers would have done so much more to secure the right to vote.

Incredibly, that's not the stupidest thing anyone has said recently about the Civil Rights Movement.

No, that distinction goes to one Larry Ward, who claimed in an appearance on CNN that Martin Luther King would have supported Ward's call for a Gun Appreciation Day "if he were alive today." In other words, the premiere American pacifist of the 20th century would be singing the praises of guns, except that he was shot in the face with one 45 years ago.

Thus do social conservatives continue to rewrite the inconvenient truths of African-American history, repurposing that tale of incandescent triumph and inconsolable woe to make it useful within the crabbed corners of their failed and discredited dogma.

Read Leonard Pitts Jr.'s entire piece at the Miami Herald.

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