CNN’s Don Lemon argued with GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy on Wednesday, telling him that his interpretation of the Civil War was “insulting” to himself and Black Americans.
Lemon and Ramaswamy engaged in a heated debate after CNN’s Poppy Harlow asked the candidate about the speech he gave to the National Rifle Association where he connected the Civil War with advancing gun rights, saying that the Democratic Party wanted to put Black people “back in chains.”
“That war was fought for Black people to have freedoms in this country. Yeah, actually, that’s why the Civil War was fought. The sad thing is…” Ramsawamy said.
“The Civil War wasn’t fought for poor Black people to have guns,” Lemon interjected.
Ramaswamy argued that Black people “did not get to enjoy the other freedoms until their Second Amendment rights were secured,” to which Lemon responded: “Black people still aren’t allowed to enjoy the freedoms.” Ramaswamy told him that he disagreed with Lemon’s response, saying that he was doing a “disservice” to the country.
“When you are in Black skin and then you live in this country. Then you can disagree with me, but we’re not,” Lemon hit back. Ramaswamy again said that he disagreed with the CNN anchor, and started to compare Black Americans today to 1865 and 1964.
Lemon told him that drawing such comparisons is “insulting to Black people.” He said to reduce the reason for the Civil War to a fight to give African Americans guns in a speech to the NRA was “reductive.”
“It’s insulting to me as an African American, I don’t want to sit and argue with you. Because it’s infuriating for you to put that to put those things together. It’s not right. You’re telling of history is wrong,” Lemon said.
Vamaswamy then said that Lemon’s explanation was “actually insulting, including to Black Americans,” prompting a heated response from Lemon.
“The part that I find insulting is when you say today Black Americans don’t have those rights after we have gone through that civil rights revolution,” Ramasawamy said.
“You are sitting here telling an African American about the rights and what you find insulting about the way I live, the skin I live in every day,” Lemon said.
The exchange ended with Lemon saying that there should be a debate, but in an “honest” and “fair” way, which he said is not what Ramaswamy is doing. He said he appreciated Ramaswamy coming on and shook his hand before ending the segment.
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