Conservative radio host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham attacked the speakers at the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s “I Have A Dream” speech, at one point using the sound of a gunshot to cut off a sound bite of civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) -- a man whose skull was infamously fractured by a state trooper on “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, AL, in 1965. Ingraham used the speech's anniversary to race-bait about black-on-white crime statistics and hosted Pat Buchanan to bemoan the idea that minorities face any higher level of adversity in America 50 years later.
Tens of thousands of people gathered in Washington, DC over the weekend to commemorate and recreate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 1963 March on Washington, an event originally dedicated to calling for civil and economic rights for African Americans. CBS News reported that the 50th anniversary event -- part of a week-long build-up to Wednesday's anniversary -- “was sponsored by the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network, Martin Luther King III and the NAACP, featured a roster of speakers, including King, Sharpton, Attorney General Eric Holder, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. They spoke from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where 50 years ago this month King delivered his famous 'I Have A Dream' speech.”
On her August 26 radio broadcast, Ingraham criticized the event and its speakers, saying the goal “was to co-opt the legacy of Martin Luther King into a modern-day liberal agenda,” and scoffing at the topics speakers supposedly discussed: “From gay marriage, to immigration -- amnesty, was thrown in for good measure. We talked about the Voting Rights Act.”
Ingraham ran through a list of African-American crime rates before hosting Pat Buchanan, a prominent racist with white nationalist ties. Buchanan dismissed the idea that minorities suffer any disadvantages in contemporary America, calling the idea “absurd” because “black folks excel and are hugely popular figures in everything from sports to entertainment to athletics to politics. Everywhere you go ... So the progress has been enormous.”
At one point during her broadcast, Ingraham began playing a clip of Lewis' speech from the 50th anniversary rally, before interrupting the playback of his comments with the sound of a loud gunshot.
Ingraham's use of a gunshot sound effect to cut off a prominent civil rights leader is troubling given the shroud of violence that surrounded the civil rights movement of the 1960s and '70s, when civil rights activists were literally silenced by assassins' bullets. Martin Luther King, whose famous “I Have A Dream” speech is celebrated today, was shot and killed by an assassin at the age of 39.
The use of violent sound effects adjacent to Lewis' comments is particularly jarring, because Lewis himself was the victim of violence as a result of his support for civil rights. Lewis, who was the youngest speaker at the original March on Washington event, helped lead a march in Selma in an effort to secure equal voting rights for minorities. The march became infamous for the violence perpetrated upon the activists by the Alabama State Police -- Lewis suffered a fractured skull at the hands of state police officers.
While Ingraham's gunshot interruption was emotionally destructive, the remainder of her show's segments on the 50th anniversary events was intellectually destructive. Ingraham complained that speakers at the rally discussed the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, but, “No one talked about the black crime rate at the rally.”
Ingraham's guest Buchanan recently appeared on Fox News to distort black-on-white crime rates and imply that African Americans are an inherently violent race. On the radio, the two bemoaned the idea that, in Buchanan's words, “white males are the only group ... against whom it's legitimate to discriminate against.”