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Joe Biden’s shameful silence

The president’s weak statements on the left’s anti-Semitism are a failure of leadership


Protestors demonstrate near Columbia University in New York City on Feb. 2 Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Stringer via Getty Images

Joe Biden’s shameful silence
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In 2019, Joe Biden launched his campaign with a video, the first two words of which were “Charlottesville, Virginia.” Biden has repeatedly claimed the events of 2017 in Charlottesville, where white nationalists marched in a “Unite the Right” rally, galvanized his resolve to run for office. Emboldened by what many saw as Donald Trump’s weak response to rising racism, Biden campaigned for national unity against extremists. But now, as his own side embraces racism and antisemitism, President Biden has been strangely silent.

Over the past few months, American college campuses have been swept up into an anti-Semitic and deeply racist wave of hate. In New York, Jewish students at Cooper Union were trapped in a library as anti-Semitic students beat on the door demanding they come out. At Stanford University, Jewish students and speakers were harassed. Events were disrupted. Voices were silenced.

At the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, and MIT, Jewish students required protection from ongoing harassment. Both Penn and Harvard forced out their presidents over mishandling anti-Semitism. Now, Columbia University is in the grip of a wave of racist, anti-Semitic violence. The violence is not only anti-Israel or anti-Zionist. It is widespread hostility and hatred toward Jewish students generally. Columbia University has had to shift to remote class options because Jewish students are not safe. Local Jewish groups and rabbis have had to pay for security for Jewish students. The situation has descended towards violence.

Over the weekend, a white protester with her face covered stood with her back to a group of Jewish students at Columbia with a sign calling for Al-Qasam, Hamas’s military wing, to execute the students behind her. The sign, with an arrow pointing in the direction of the Jewish students, read, “Al-Qasam’s Next Target.” The Jewish students were waving Israeli and American flags. The anti-Semitic students on campuses across America have been burning both the Israeli and American flags.

The Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran established Quds Day as an annual event to call for the death of Jews and the United States. This year, in Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s Michigan congressional district, a local Islamic activist led the Quds Day rally crowd chanting “Death to Israel. Death to America.” Though CNN, NBC, and other networks always shove microphones in Republican faces to see if they will denounce things like the “Unite the Right” rally, only Fox News confronted Congresswoman Talib. She refused to talk to them.

Through all of this, Biden has been silent. The man who ran for president because of the white nationalists in Charlottesville has been unable to muster stridency against the anti-Semitic racists of his own base.

Biden has chosen to be led by the polling of anti-Semites rather than lead America against them.

It is easy to denounce people on the other side. It has been easy for Biden to denounce Donald Trump and white nationalists on the Republican side. But that is not really leadership. Biden scores cheap political points taking on rightwing racists. He simply will not do the same on his side.

In 1992, the Washington Post quoted black female rapper Sister Souljah saying, “I mean, if black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?” Her comments came in the aftermath of the Los Angeles riots following the jury acquittal of four police officers who had savagely beaten Rodney King. Within a month, then Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton gave a speech to Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition and denounced Souljah’s remarks. This was described as Bill Clinton’s “Sister Souljah moment.”

Joe Biden cannot muster such a moment. He needs every vote he can to beat Trump. After the Michigan Democratic primary, Biden began shifting his positions on Israel to placate anti-Semites, many of whom voted “uncommitted” instead of for Biden. To publicly denounce the racism and anti-Semitism now sweeping the left would elevate Biden’s stature but risk his re-election. He has chosen to be led by the polling of anti-Semites rather than lead America against them.

True, the media reported yesterday that Biden made a comment after an Earth Day event in which he stated, “I condemn the anti-Semitic protests.” But then the president quickly added: “I also condemn those who don’t understand what is going on with the Palestinians.” That was his clumsy effort to appease his own political base, while being forced to say something.

“I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we all are created equal, and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, and demonization have long torn us apart,” Biden said in his inaugural address. Now, as Jewish students on campuses across America need protection, Biden says little—a tacit admission he needs the votes of the anti-Semites and is more scared of alienating them than leading the nation towards the American ideal.


Erick Erickson

Erick Erickson is a lawyer by training, has been a political campaign manager and consultant, helped start one of the premiere grassroots conservative websites in the world, served as a political contributor for CNN and Fox News, and hosts the Erick Erickson Show broadcast nationwide.


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