CNN’s Don Lemon became unglued Wednesday during a heated debate with 2024 presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.
CNN’s Poppy Harlow asked Ramaswamy about his recent speech at the NRA conference in which he accused the Democrats of wanting to put black people “back in chains” both currently and in the aftermath of the Civil War. Ramaswamy also noted the first gun laws were passed in 1865 to restrict the rights of black Americans. Harlow turned to Lemon and asked if he had anything he wanted to say, giving Lemon the chance to pounce.
“I don’t really see what one has to do with the other, especially considering and using the Civil War to talk about black Americans. That war was not fought for black people to have guns,” Lemon said.
“That war was fought for black people to have freedoms in this country,” Ramaswamy said. “Yeah, actually, that’s why the Civil War was fought. The sad thing about –”
“The Civil War wasn’t fought for poor black people to have guns,” Lemon cut in.
“Actually, you know, funny fact is, black people did not get to enjoy the other freedoms until their Second Amendment rights were secured. And I think that that’s one of the lessons that–” Ramaswamy said before Lemon again chimed in,
“But black people still aren’t allowed to enjoy the freedoms.”
“I disagree with you on that, Don. I disagree with that. And I think you’re doing a disservice to our country by failing to recognize the fact that we have equality-.”
“When you are in black skin and then you live in this country then you can disagree with me, but we’re not,” Lemon said. “You mentioned there are three different shades of melanin here-”
“Don I think we have to be able to talk about these issues in the open regardless of the color of our skin,” Ramaswamy responded. “Black Americans today, to say that, compare that to 1865 and 1964-”
“For you to compare it to 1865 or 1964 is actually, I think it’s insulting to black people. It’s insulting to me as an African-American, I don’t want to sit here and argue with you because it’s infuriating for you to put those things together. It’s not right. Your telling of history is wrong. Your-”
“What part of the history was wrong?” Ramaswamy asked.
“The Civil War was fought. You’re making people think that the Civil War was fought for black people, only for black people to get guns, and for black people to have rights.”
“A Civil War was fought for black people in this country to get freedoms, a noble mission. And I think that even after we succeeded, we had to actually secure those freedoms,” Ramaswamy said.
“To reduce it, in a speech at the NRA, to say, you’re making people think, you’re trying to say that black people to get guns, that was the reason that you’re there at the NRA. That was a reason for the Civil War. I think that’s reductive-”
“It’s a fact! It’s not reductive Don,” Ramaswamy said. (RELATED: ‘He Got It From Me’: Vivek Ramaswamy Claims Ron DeSantis Is Copying Him In Shot At Florida Gov)
“I think it’s insulting. There are a whole plethora of reasons for the Civil War,” Lemon said.
Ramaswamy then argued black Americans secured their freedoms following the war and argued the NRA helped train black Americans how to use firearms.
“That’s a lie,” Lemon said. “The NRA did not play a big role in that.”
Ramaswamy then said it is “insulting” for Lemon to suggest black Americans lack rights.
“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. “I know the freedoms that black and white, that black people don’t have in this country and that black people do have.”
Lemon then said it was “insulting” that Ramaswamy was “sitting here, whatever ethnicity you are ‘splaining to me what it’s like to be black in America.”
“Whatever ethnicity I am?” Ramaswamy shot back. “I’ll tell you what I am. I’m an Indian American. I’m proud of it.”
The conversation then ended, with Lemon cutting Ramaswamy off alleging he’s having the conversation in a dishonest way.