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Why Joe Biden’s Buffalo Speech Was So Disappointing

Joe Biden
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks, after paying respects and meeting with victims, family, first responders and law enforcement who were affected by the mass shooting committed by a gunman authorities say was motivated by racism, at Delavan Grider Community Center in Buffalo, NY, U.S. May 17, 2022. REUTERS/Leah Millis

President Joe Biden stepped into the familiar role of consoler-in-chief as the nation mourned the victims of a racist massacre in Buffalo, N.Y. But to move beyond soothing words to healing actions, Biden will need to be something he has less often delivered on in office: a problem-solver.

On this, Biden seemed less certain. While he called the mass shooting “domestic terrorism,” he downplayed the need for a new law to address the problem. He renewed his call for gun control, but didn’t seem optimistic it would happen. “I don’t know why we don’t admit what the hell is going on,” he said.

The centerpiece of Biden’s address was race. He called white supremacy a “poison” for the country. He urged Americans to root it out and denounce its purveyors. This is understandable and all to the good, given what we know about the shooter’s motivations.

But even here, Biden avoids the kind of leadership that might make a change. Racism surely fuels violence and attacks. It is a regrettable yet indelible part of our history with an enduring legacy. Confronting this phenomenon after decades of attempts to marginalize racist views may require saying something new.

One area where Biden might have done some good is by calling out the woke redefinition of racism to mean something other than racial hatred. Instead of further curtailing the more widely shared definition of the genuine article, it has given it more places to hide.

The barely concealed glee with which many have written about the death and decline of working-class whites is another topic Biden might have profitably addressed. The left has been willing to employ the language of racial disdain when describing voters outside their own political coalition. And many of the ideas for how Biden’s party was building an at least semi-permanent majority hinged on the notion that demography was destiny. 

None of this justifies the white nationalism emerging in some corners. But not only does this analysis appear to be wrong on the merits. It has to be judged as at least part of the context in which some have been attracted to “replacement theory.”

While Biden has stopped well short of reprising former President Bill Clinton’s brandishing of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing against his political opponents, despite facing some pressure from allies to do so, it is easy to vaguely hint that the primary drivers of revivified racial animus are on the other side of the ideological divide. It is much more difficult to criticize one’s own side and would not require a similarly Clintonian “Sister Souljah” moment to achieve in this climate. 

That is not to say that Biden’s political opposition has nothing to answer for. There are lawmakers on the other side of the aisle who are too comfortable mingling with extremists they should avoid and there are certainly people on the right who have taken opposition to political correctness too far. There is much absurdity and malice on this subject to go around.

Yet the fringe caucus’s views remain far from majority sentiment inside the GOP or conservative movement and are far less influential than ideas like critical race theory, which have limited explanatory power at best when it comes to understanding the complexities of race in 21st century America.

Biden may lack the credibility to deal with these complexities as an aging white man at the helm of a diverse political party, especially in contrast with his onetime boss, former President Barack Obama. 

Still, Biden campaigned in the 2020 presidential election as a unifier, even if he has some divisive tendencies of his own and only arguably fits the bill in comparison with his immediate predecessor. This would be an opportunity to live up to that promise at a time when Americans need that ever elusive unity the most.

That would require augmenting the president’s wise words about the immorality and injustice of racism with a real, actionable call to rise above polarization — including polarization fostered not just by his detractors but also his admirers and adjacent political factions. 

Perhaps that is too much to ask of any political leader in 2022, more than two decades into the country being more divided by red and blue than even white and black. But Biden has wanted this job for at least 35 years. If not now, when?

Now a 1945 Contributing Editor, W. James Antle III is the Washington Examiner’s politics editor. He was previously managing editor of the Daily Caller, associate editor of the American Spectator, and senior writer for the American Conservative. He is the author of Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped? You can follow home on Twitter: @Jimantle.

Written By

W. James Antle III is the Washington Examiner's politics editor. He was previously managing editor of the Daily Caller, associate editor of the American Spectator, and senior writer for the American Conservative. He is the author of Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped?

24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Error403

    May 17, 2022 at 9:52 pm

    Biden is an 80-year-old buffoon shoved into the white house by deep state nexus that dreams of total world conquest.

    Biden has zero leadership or statesmanship qualities and his first year in office (2021) was marked by highest ever covid deaths, increased firearms homicide and a stubborn jails-and-police centered national policy on the domestic front.

    On the foreign front, he has split the world (without asking their permission or even opinion) into 2 opposing camps, as if world is wild wild west American frontier with Biden himself as sheriff-cum-white settler and all his opponents are indian apaches who need pacification or extermination or put into closed off reserves.

    Who’s Biden then ?

    He’s a lousy dickhed who’s severely mentally and cerebrally challenged old man who absolutely has no business to dictate to the world. Fullstop.

    His indian apache opponents need to band together now and SHARE RS-28 rocket technology.

    • Joe Comment

      May 18, 2022 at 10:54 am

      Error403: What do you mean by saying Biden has split the world? Can you give an example of something he did that you believe caused that?

    • Eric Jon Burton

      May 18, 2022 at 12:29 pm

      Biden is a clown. He’s a place holder, he has dementia so bad he has no idea what he’s doing or where he’s at.

    • Lucian Adams

      May 20, 2022 at 1:25 pm

      Great comment you misspelled d*ckhead.

  2. Error404

    May 17, 2022 at 10:01 pm

    Biden, like all other US politicians, refuses to acknowledge that white supremacy on the home front is exactly the same as American supremacy on the international stage.

    White supremacy and American supremacy are two faces of the same coin minted by Lucifer himself no less.

    Who’s Lucifer. He’s the inspiration behind the supremacy numbers game now espoused by US & minions.

    He once informed the supreme being “Step aside.I and my angels have the numbers to form the majority and therefore to rule.”

    What happened? He and his angels were expelled and sent down to earth where they gave been hatching chaos and havoc and inspiring people like Hitler, Biden, stoltenberg and zelenskiiy.

    • Blue Lies Matter

      May 18, 2022 at 12:36 pm

      It’s easy to throw out the standard liberal “white supremacy” trope, but much harder to provide supporting facts. Was the recent Waukesha massacre by a white supremacist? No. Are must of the people in the U.S. shot by whites? No, not even close. Almost universally, these massacres are by people with serious mental issues that use places with strict gun controls (schools, theaters, states with tight gun controls) to minimize the possibility of people defending themselves. Stop gaslighting!

      • Joe Comment

        May 18, 2022 at 6:52 pm

        Blue Lies Matter: Some massacres are by white racists, and others are not. Is that so hard to understand? If black-on-black homicide is the highest category by race in the US, this refutes “the standard liberal white supremacy trope” how? Would you expect the higher ranking group in a society to live in areas where crime is more out of control? Wisconsin has less gun control than New York, yet the Waukesha suspect used a car for the attack, so it seems neither here nor there for your argument. Too much counter-narrative building?

      • george

        May 19, 2022 at 12:08 pm

        “Are must of the people in the US shot by whites?”

        First, do us all a favor and go back to school dude. You still can’t even write proper English. Get out of America until you can, love or leave it commie pinko!

        Second, white people are, by a massive amount, and always have been, the biggest killers in this country. A review of any of the UCRs put out by the FBI will tell you that. Or, you know, a simple Google search

        I’m guessing reading, logic, facts, etc are not high on your list of skills.

  3. Error404

    May 17, 2022 at 10:04 pm

    Biden, like all other US politicians, refuses to acknowledge that white supremacy on the home front is exactly the same as American supremacy on the international stage.

    White supremacy and American supremacy are two faces of the same coin minted by Lucifer himself no less.

    Who’s Lucifer. He’s the inspiration behind the supremacy numbers game now espoused by US & minions.

    He once informed the supreme being “Step aside.I and my angels have the numbers to form the majority and therefore to rule.”

    What happened? He and his angels were expelled and sent down to earth where they gave been hatching chaos and havoc and inspiring people like Hitler, Biden, stoltenberg and zelenskiiy.

  4. Error404

    May 17, 2022 at 10:50 pm

    Biden has failed to tell his allies, minions and his fellow citizens that white supremacy isn’t a recent phenomenon.

    George washington’s great grandfather was known to the indians as devourer or destroyer (the original white supremacist).

    Lincoln mass hanged indian men in mankato to mark passing of christmas in 1862. It is the largest ever mass hangings in US, easily comparable to later regular events that took place in eastern europe in the early 1940s.Thus this white supremacy is a sort of ancient or spawned long ago tradition.

    Biden is therefore merely paying lip service to the Buffalo victims.

  5. Joe Comment

    May 18, 2022 at 1:10 am

    I’m puzzled by this article’s remark about the “woke redefinition of racism to mean something other than racial hatred.” The link given as evidence goes to an interview with a person who says “Yes” in answer to the question whether “systemic racism is real and present now.” In other words, hatred is not the only source of bad impacts around race. It’s important to avoid using the word “racism” when discussing those? I don’t think the cited link supports this idea.

    • Jane

      May 19, 2022 at 12:32 am

      I agree. This piece is meandering and reflects a lazy effort. No thoughts on what Biden should do in practice to fix the problem. All of this is going to get worse bc they are using the wrong tools to bring us out of the hole of covid. You need a strong government with good policy makers to do this. We don’t have that so in the interim, the people are distracted and manipulated. It’s easier to argue about critical race theory than deal with bad schools and student loan debt. This country is truly on auto pilot

      Biden is not running this country. The administrative state / life long politicians are running it but we are clueless don’t acknowledge that the pernicious effects of racism isn’t just violence from hate. What is Buttieg doing about infrastructure — nothing. What is the health secretary doing to get a covid vaccine that is durable — nothing, but wringing their hands on how they could foolish sell quarterly shots to American people and pray that they are never called to task for not vaccinating poor countries. Systemic racism is real and permeates all aspects of our society: education, housing, and health and wealth — everything. And we need to understand our history such that we can deal today

      Biden is a one-termer and a poor leader. If the ballot had an abstain option in 2020, 1/3 of the pop would have opted out. These kinds of pieces don’t help

  6. David Chang

    May 18, 2022 at 1:30 am

    People who do not obey Ten Commandments worship themselves.
    They see themselves as a unique race.
    They believe democracy, socialism, and evolution.

    Each of them think that everyone else is hindering their survival, growth, and evolution.

    Many people in America don’t remember that Washington and Lincoln have warned Democratic-Republic party,
    and people of Democratic-Republic party are doing that which is evil in the sight of GOD since 1776.

    When people argue about abortion and war, people should confess that is murdering, and pray to God.

    God bless people in the world,
    May God’s mercy on us.

    • Joe Comment

      May 19, 2022 at 12:19 am

      David Chang:

      1. Thou shalt not spam.
      2. Thou shalt not troll.
      3. Thou shalt not fan flame wars.
      4. Thou shalt not pretend to be other than what thou art.
      5. Thou shalt not compare thy fellow commenters to Hitler or other historical monsters.
      6. Thou shalt not post propaganda for 50 cents, 50 kopeks, 5 maos or any other amount of money.
      7. Thou shalt not post unfounded rumors and false narratives.
      8. Thou shalt respect the different ethnicities, religions etc. of thy fellow commenters.
      9. Thou shalt seek to add something new and valuable to the discussion.
      10. Thou shalt seek to understand what thy fellow commenters are saying and engage in sincere argumentation with them.

      Repent, for the moderator is coming for us all.

  7. PM

    May 18, 2022 at 2:42 am

    Another thing that would go a long way to a sense of fairness in elite attitudes toward whites would be for the elites to make the same showy displays against racist hate when it is directed at whites. Yet despite many high profile racist attacks on whites, the elite remain utterly silent except to excuse the attacks as being completely unrelated to race despite the often clear intent of the perpetrators. The Wakeusha racist mass murder of whites is only the most glaring recent example of many: where was the elite memorial ceremony to honor the victims and condemn the racist monster who mowed his victims down with a car at a Christmas celebration?

    And it is inarguably true that political elites have opened the Southern border to illegal immigration and massively increased legal immigration, while elites on the left and right crow about how much better immigrants are than their stupid, poor, white countrymen, and how the Left revels in absolute glee every time census data shows the percentage of whites decreasing, or fentanyl deaths increasing. The way you can tell that this behavior is abhorrent—and contributes to the sense that whites are under siege—is to replace whites in these sentences with other races, and watch all the elites fall all over themselves to proclaim how racist and horrible such sentiments are.

    When in modern times has a country that was 90+% of one race been replaced in a generation largely through immigration? Even in the ancient world this never happened outside of wars and campaigns of ethnic cleansing. And it is not happening anywhere else in the world other than in what were white majority countries. Note that when whites immigrate to an area they are colonizers but when non-whites immigrate to white areas they are noble peoples just seeking a better life. Take the example of South Africa, where hundreds of years ago Afrikaaners built a country out of the bush, and black tribes immigrated to the Cape area (and the Orange state and Transvaal) to be near the industry of the white man, but in modern times, as in Zimbabwe, whites, whose ancestors were there 400 years ago, are expropriated, murdered, and expelled and this is considered by the global elites as a good thing, because whites can only be oppressors. Contrast this to illegal immigrants who are objectively invading into Europe and the US who are considered “more American than Americans” and who are not allowed to be expelled from the country under any circumstances as though they are connected to the land, despite the fact that they just arrived yesterday, or who are allowed to establish family residency simply through having a child on US soil, who is immediately made a citizen despite having no connection to the area.

    The Japanese, on relatively recent history, were colonialists, chauvinists, slavers, and massively oppressed conquered populations—only stopping after a titanic struggle against the United States, which finally had to nuke their homeland to get the God-Emperor to capitulate. And yet there are no calls for Japanese to open their country to poor third world immigrants snd transform their demographic balance to one in which Japanese people are a minority so as to expiate their collective historical guilt.

    We don’t require the Mongolian people, descendants of the civilization-destroyer Ghengis Khan and his child-color-Hordes to pay reparations to the descendants of the countries he ravaged and ethnic groups he persecuted, enslaved, and murdered. Of course not, because Mongolians today are not responsible for atrocities committed hundreds of years ago by people in their same ethnic group. But if you look, you will notice that Mongolia is one of the largest countries in the world. Can we really say that modern Mongolians did not benefit unfairly from the rapine and brigandage of their ancestors? A ludicrous standard? Yes, but one that the world elite, including elite whites, never tire in applying with relish to the sins of whites in history—despite, and, oddly, because of, the fact that white European culture birthed the modern world in the Renaissance and Enlightenment and the standards they developed in which slavery is abhorrent, racism is abhorrent, ethnic cleansing is abhorrent, etc.

    But from all this it is clear there is a massive difference in treatment that depends only on the races involved, and those poor, stupid whites, despite being poor and stupid, can see this obvious differential in treatment that no one even bothers to hide or explain.

    And every time you have a black person murdering whites, with people on Twitter celebrating it, and the elites ignoring it or explaining it away as somehow justified, while every incident involving a white person doing something bad to a black person (the full spectrum from things that actually have nothing to do with race like a cop defending himself from a guy who’s trying to take his gun, all the way up to horrific murders like in Buffalo) is magnified and pushed by the elite as evidence of America, and its white citizens, being a horrible white supremacist country, gives credence to those spouting great replacement theory.

    Instead let me propose that the elites in the world and the US change tack and start condemning ALL racist hate equally, and stop celebrating at the travails of underclass white people only, while exhibiting infinite sympathy and empathy for everyone else, because it is doing nothing to unify us all as Americans, and everything to balkanize us further and further apart, aside, of course, from the fact that the difference in treatment is morally and ethically indefensible, perverse, and ugly.

    • Joe Comment

      May 18, 2022 at 12:56 pm

      PM: Where to start? On Waukesha vs Buffalo, there is a lot more evidence that the Buffalo attack was racially motivated, and it has been charged as such by the authorities. Why imagine some mysterious conspiracy by rich people to hype one type of racism above another? On the southern border, have you ever actually tried to cross it illegally yourself? You’ll find it’s not actually open. On legal immigration, we have equal per-country quotas but it turns out that people in rich countries have much less motivation to immigrate, which is why we see less European immigration. Why imagine some kind of bizarre racial motive behind this? Yes, Japan does come under a lot of criticism for racism, so I’m not seeing your point. You think Mongolians benefiting from invasions centuries ago are comparable to racial discrimination in the US that continues till the present? There have been proven discrimination cases within only the last few years. In short, you seem to be a victim of conspiracy theory propaganda.

      • John Hinman

        May 19, 2022 at 5:16 am

        Why imagine some mysterious conspiracy by rich people to hype one type of racism above another?
        Politics, power and wealth drive the left to commit atrocities against the people of this nation, that’d why!

        We have a rogue government in our Country, one that very much resembles communism on the left.

        They have their own media that works solely for them, between them they decide what narratives to run with. The narrative that they have chosen has been to divide our Country using the long past worldwide use of slavery that they try to convince Americans that the settlers created it and America is solely responsible for. When of course that’s not true but that’s the corrupt left and it’s tactics at work. There is a reason for choosing racism as a narrative, they need to divide the Country, create hatred, foster racism, and implant the idea that police and white people are targeting the black community. White terrorist suddenly exists out of thin air from a protest at the Capital where the only person who died as a result of someone’s action was a woman murdered by a officer for some reason. The left chose to call a protest where some windows were broken and people entering the Capital building an insurrection. While the months long rioting, violence, destruction, burning down buildings, 34 people killed, looting of stores, a nightmare for people who had to live in those areas, the left calls this a peaceful protest. This is the rogue government and their media we are up against, anti Americans, in bed with China, seeking to break the will of the people and transform our Country into a Communist regime because of their lust for POWER & GREED.
        There is no systemic racism in our Country, no white terrorism, no targeting of the black community.

        We do have a rogue government with their media working together to create the appearance of all these horrible things that create hatred and divide the Country.
        The black population is 13% of the total population yet commits 36.1% of all violent crime in America
        The white population is 60% of the total population and commits 38.7% of all violent crime.
        FBI 2019 Stats for murders in America blacks committed 6,425 at only 13% of the population.
        FBI 2019 Stats for murders in America whites committed 5,068 that’s at 60% of the population
        In 2020 people killed by police officers, consider blacks and whites commit about the same amount of violent crime, putting each race contact with police roughly the same.

        Blacks killed by police in the line of duty 241
        Whites killed by police in the line of duty 457 Most people killed by the police have a weapon and pose a threat to the police or innocent third parties.

        The number of unarmed people killed by the police is much smaller. In 2019, 15 unarmed black people were shot and killed by on-duty police officers, compared with 25 whites.
        The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reported that 210 officers died in 2020, up 58 percent from 2019, when there were 135 on-duty deaths.

        I could go deeper into the statistics but I think most serious, honest people have gotten the true picture by now. In simple terms, blacks for a small percent of the population commit a lot of crime.
        This puts in situations of contact with police as much as whites but the black community seems to choose to commit more murders and the data proves they are not targeted by police or anyone else, no white terrorist. Whites are factually killed more often with or without a handgun on them, if anything it appears the racist police campaign has police backing off of blacks.
        These stats you will never ever see from the left because it totally blows up their false narrative.

        God help us from the Evil left and their vicious tactics.

        • Joe Comment

          May 19, 2022 at 10:03 am

          John Hinkman: Who ever said the US settlers were solely responsible for the worldwide slave trade? Who ever denied that Blacks have higher crime rates? You believe the news reports about police mistreatment of Blacks are false or what? Can you name a specific incident of severe police mistreatment of a White which should have been more widely covered in the news than it was? Can you name a specific major news media outlet that you believe is working together with the government to spread a false narrative?

  8. Tom of Finland

    May 18, 2022 at 12:06 pm

    Lmao this writer is taking the Buffalo shooter’s side and basically saying he was right.
    Embarrassing and disgusting. All these other commenters are just as bad lol.

  9. Roger Bacon

    May 18, 2022 at 2:02 pm

    The shoter in Buffalo was mentally unstable. He had been committed before. The left tries to make this fit their narrative but everyone has noticed how they ignore or downplay all the mass shootings that don’t fit their narrative. On the same weekend the Chinese man shot people at the Taiwanese church and it was almost completely ignored.

    • Joe Comment

      May 18, 2022 at 5:58 pm

      Roger Bacon: The Taiwanese-American church shooting resulted in one death, the Buffalo shooting ten deaths, and both stories were covered commensurate with the death tolls. The Buffalo shooting suspect evidently did a lot of writing on the race angle, so this is more than just a “narrative.” The Taiwanese-American shooting suspect’s possible political motives have also been discussed in the press, as have the possible mental instability issues of the shooters in both incidents. And whom do you mean as “the left”? You imagine some George Soros type bogeyman ordering up narratives in the media, or what?

  10. Eric

    May 18, 2022 at 5:49 pm

    The author seems incapable of understanding the difference between individual prejudice based on race (which is still a problem) vs racism in the institutional sense of it being ingrained in our laws, policies, and practices. It’s like the difference between weather and climate. The weather varies from day to day, but the climate is the long term probability. So it goes with prejudice vs racism. If you’re going to denigrate “the woke redefinition of racism to mean something other than racial hatred” then maybe you should make an effort to understand where “the woke definition” is coming from. Plenty of people are kind to their black neighbors while simultaneously voting for politicians who intend to disenfranchise that same black neighbor’s right to vote; this is the kind of racism that needs to end but conservatives consistently defend it and actually deny that it’s racism at all.

  11. David Chang

    May 19, 2022 at 12:04 pm

    God bless people in the world.

    Mr. Kelly and Farley and the democratic party worker, Joe Comment, is the same wrong.

    Every people should confess giving weapon to Ukraine is pro-war.

    Because Democratic party don’t ask people in Ukraine and Russia to obey Ten Commandments and abandon socialism first, the weapon supply is inciting war, not preventing war.

    People should think about the right and wrong in the war by just war theory.

    In the beginning, God created Universe. God is justice and ten commandments is morality.
    Just War Theory is the moral education of soldier and police.

    • Joe Comment

      May 22, 2022 at 9:30 am

      David Chang: That’s right, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are Ukraine, Biden, the US Democratic Party, and me. (Laughs)

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