Biden: White supremacy a ‘poison’ in America

President Biden on Tuesday called white supremacy a “poison” in America and called on Americans to reject the racist white “replacement theory” that is believed to have inspired the gunman behind the tragic Buffalo shooting.

“I call on all Americans to reject the lie,” Biden said in remarks from Buffalo Tuesday afternoon. ”I condemn those who spread the lie for power, for political gain and for profit.”

“We need to say as clearly and forcefully as we can that the ideology of white supremacy has no place in America,” Biden said. “None.”

Biden delivered the remarks after he and first lady Jill Biden met privately with families of the victims in Saturday’s mass shooting, which police are investigating as a racially-motivated hate crime.

Biden called the weekend shooting that left 10 dead an act of “domestic terrorism.”

“What happened here is simple and straightforward: Terrorism. Terrorism. Domestic terrorism,” Biden said. “Violence inflicted in the service of hate and the vicious thirst for power that defines one group of people being inherently inferior to any other group.”

The president broadly called out the media, politics and the internet for radicalizing individuals and spreading the racist “replacement theory” that white people, in particular, are at risk of being replaced by minority groups. But he did not single out any particular individual, even as Fox News hosts and certain Republican lawmakers have come under scrutiny in recent days for their rhetoric about immigrants.

Other Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have taken a different approach. Schumer, who was with Biden on Tuesday in Buffalo, wrote to Fox News executives asking that they stop what he called the “reckless amplification of the so-called ‘Great Replacement’ theory” on the network.

Biden condemned the shooting over the weekend, but Tuesday’s speech represented his most extensive remarks to date about the tragedy.

Ten people were killed and three wounded when an 18-year-old gunman opened fire at a Tops Friendly Market in a predominantly Black neighborhood on Saturday afternoon. The shooting has led to renewed calls for gun control legislation at the federal level and demands that the government do more to stamp out the threat of white supremacy.

Biden only briefly called for fresh action on gun control, renewing his call for a ban on assault weapons and urging action to “address the relentless exploitation of the internet to recruit and mobilize terrorism.”

Instead, the speech was largely a condemnation of white supremacy, which Biden decried as “a poison… running through our body politic,” and as a tribute to those who were killed during a typical weekend trip to the supermarket.

Prior to his remarks, the president and first lady Jill Biden met privately with the families of victims and paid their respects at a memorial outside the grocery store. The first lady said a brief thank you to the families of the victims before Biden began his remarks.

At the beginning of the speech, Biden reflected on the victims, naming each one of them and reading off personal details about their lives. He choked up at one point as he told the story of one of the victims who had gone to the market to buy his son a birthday cake. 

“We have to refuse to live in a country where Black people going about a weekly grocery shopping can be gunned down by weapons of war deployed in a racist cause,” Biden said. “We have to refuse to live in a country where fear and lies are packaged for power and for profit. We must all enlist in this great cause of America.”

Updated at 1:06 p.m.

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