Ramaswamy: Lemon's studio attack akin to 'psychological slavery'

Ramaswamy: Lemon's studio attack akin to 'psychological slavery'

Ramaswamy: Lemon's studio attack akin to 'psychological slavery'

If a November 2024 vote seems too far off to hold your attention consider this: a presidential candidate has accused a CNN show host of 'psychological slavery' this week.

Businessman and Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy addressed a meeting of the National Rifle Association in Indianapolis last Friday. In his speech, he called to abolish the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and said he'll work to protect the right to bear arms.

It's not the first time Ramaswamy has called to end a major law enforcement arm of the Department of Justice. Earlier this month, the presidential hopeful said his administration would shut down the FBI. Big problems require big fixes, he says, and Ramaswamy sees many problems in the current state of the federal government.

He also told NRA attendees that the ATF is "beyond repair" and that he would support a national, constitutional carry law.

His positions earned him an invitation to sit on a CNN set on Tuesday with hosts Don Lemon and Poppy Harlow. After asking Ramaswamy about his speech, Harlow was left to shift in her seat and sip coffee while Lemon and Ramaswamy went toe-to-toe for the remainder of the guest's appearance.

And so it begins

Ramaswamy had pointed out to the NRA attendees that America's first anti-gun laws were enacted after the Civil War in 1865 when southern states passed laws forbidding blacks from owning guns. Lemon took issue with Ramaswamy using a Civil War reference to an events center filled with gun owners.

"I don't see what one has to do with the other – 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 countered.

Ramaswamy went on to make the point that it took the Civil War to secure the Second Amendment and pave the way for all other freedoms for black Americans. "Black people did not get to enjoy the other freedoms until their Second Amendment rights were secured," he added.

The conversation amps up

That's when Lemon took the conversation to another level. "Black people still aren't allowed to enjoy the freedoms," the CNN host argued.

"I disagree with you on that, Don. I disagree with you. I think you're doing a disservice to our country by failing to recognize the fact that we had equality before the lawsuit," Ramaswamy countered.

That's when Lemon told Ramaswamy he had no right to disagree. "When you are in black skin, and you live in this country, then you can disagree with me," he said.

The exchange was at times difficult to follow as Ramaswamy, whose family immigrated from India, was often interrupted by Lemon.

"Here's where you and I have a different point of view. I think we should be able to express our views regardless of the color of our skin. We should have this debate," Ramaswamy said.

"I'm not saying you shouldn't express your views, but I think it's insulting that you're sitting here, whatever ethnicity you are, explaining to me about what it is like to be black in America. I'm sorry," Lemon said.

Co-equal debate necessary – but nixed

Thursday morning on American Family Radio, Ramaswamy discussed his debate with Don Lemon.

"We ought to have this debate as co-equal citizens," Ramaswamy told show host Jenna Ellis. "In a certain sense there was a tinge of racism when he shot back with 'whatever ethnicity you are.' It reveals the vitriol, the poison behind this hateful perspective that if you are not this skin color or this gender or this sexual orientation then you need to shut up and sit down. That's a form of psychological slavery."

As an announced GOP presidential candidate, Ramaswamy says it's important for him to go into liberal environments and articulate conservative viewpoints. He said Lemon struggled with the idea of gun ownership as a right.

"On one hand, he thinks of himself as a civil rights crusader. On the other hand, he has an inherent anaphylactic reaction to the Second Amendment – and that's why it made him sort of mentally lose it when I put those two things together," Ramaswamy explained.

The conflict with the narrative

The union of those subjects conflicted with Lemon's narrative, Ramaswamy continued.

"Those two things aren't supposed to fit together. Civil rights are for the good guys. Second Amendment rights are for the bad guys. But what I was explaining to him as I spoke in my NRA speech was that these two things actually go hand in glove together," Ramaswamy said. "That's what made him have that explosion. But I will keep doing it."

For a candidate trying to build a profile, almost any news coverage is good … and most invitations are welcome. But according to Ramaswamy, there's something to be gained from the other guy's camp. He is convinced that the more he can get away from conservative pep rallies and spend time in open debate with political opposites, the more hearts and minds he can convince.

"I am in a position as a presidential candidate as someone who's lived the full arc of the American dream. My parents came to this country with almost no money. I've built my own success; but having achieved what I have, I don't intend to squander it," he said.

"I intend to use that to confront the most powerful figures, in culture, media and politics with cold, hard facts. That, I think, will quietly persuade some of the people who didn't know they actually share our beliefs."