It comes as no surprise that Rush Limbaugh stuck his foot in his mouth again, this time totally missing the point about the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s by wondering if John Lewis would have had his skull fractured had he been packing a gun.
If Malcom X had been on the bridge marching to Selma, Alabama in protest of not being able to register to vote, Malcolm X would have been armed and dangerous along with members of the Black Panthers. It was Malcolm X who gave the famous "The Ballot or the Bullet" speech. It was Malcolm X who appeared holding an M1 carbine on the cover of Ebony Magazine in 1964. He referred to Martin Luther King, Jr. as "an Uncle Tom," or a "stooge." Meanwhile MLK preached "I have a dream" in which he hoped all God's children would join hands and sing "free at last" together. What fluff!!
But it was not Malcolm X who was marching across the bridge to Selma with an M1 locked and loaded. It was a disciple of Martin Luther King, John Lewis, who led nearly 700 people expressing their right to peaceable assembly, protected by the constitution.
And it's Rush Limbaugh who doesn't seem to get it. Rush Limbaugh missed the whole point of preaching peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience. When confronted by state troopers, the second round of 2,500 protesters responded by kneeling to pray before turning back. When protesting at lunch counters, part of the instructions were to go limp so as to be difficult to carry but not fight, not to meet an eye for an eye. On the day of the first march, Bloody Sunday, marchers were attacked without provocation and fell or ran instead of fighting, which you can see in the video. It made the state troopers look like vicious wolves attacking God's children. Shown on every news station, favor fell to the Civil Rights Movement.
John Lewis actually responded to Rush Limbaugh saying the following:
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. 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.John Lewis also experienced and unexpected moment in his life. One of his attackers from that day apologized and asked for his forgiveness. True to form, Lewis forgave saying "Love is much stronger than hate."
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. It was non-violence that not only brought an end to legalized segregation and racial discrimination, but Dr. King’s peaceful work changed the hearts of millions of Americans who stood up for justice and rejected the injury of violence forever.
Carrying guns on that day would not have led to the dream of people of all backgrounds and faiths joining hands and singing as in a heavenly choir. It won't make it happen today. It won't make it happen in the future. Malcolm X's pro-gun stance ultimately did not prevent his assassination. Martin Luther King's non-violent stance did not prevent his assassination. But "Love is much stronger than hate." Love sets us free. As Martin Luther King said so eloquently:
when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
NOTE: There is some confusion between an event in 1961 in which John Lewis was also a freedom rider who was attacked in Birmingham, Alabama. Apparently he was also injured there. It does not matter in some ways which event it was, or if his skull was cracked in both. The message is the same. "Love is much stronger than hate."
Slacktivist also had something interesting to say.
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