President Joe Biden forcefully condemned white supremacy during an emotional speech in Buffalo, calling it a “poison” and an ideology that must be called out by people of all backgrounds. “We need to say as clearly and forcefully as we can that the ideology of white supremacy has no place in America,” the president said, three days after ten people were murdered in a racist rampage at a local supermarket.
“The American experiment in democracy is in a danger like it hasn’t been in my lifetime. It’s in danger this hour,” Biden said. “Hate and fear are being given too much oxygen by those who pretend to love America but who don’t understand America. To confront the ideology of hate requires caring about all people, not making distinctions.”
He and First Lady Jill Biden traveled to the city Tuesday in the wake of Saturday’s attack at a Tops supermarket, which left ten people dead and three wounded. The white-supremacist gunman, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, is believed to have targeted the store because it was in a majority-Black community. All of those who were killed in the attack were Black.
The Bidens were seen paying their respects earlier in the day, laying flowers at a memorial at the scene of the shooting. The two also spoke in private with the families of the victims prior to the president’s public address.
Biden began his remarks at the Delavan Grider Community Center by honoring those who were lost, talking about each individual person’s life, such as Andre Mackniel, who reportedly visited the supermarket that day to buy a birthday cake for his young son. Biden, who has his own personal experiences with loss, spoke directly to the victims’ families, acknowledging that grief can feel “like a black hole” — but insisting that there will come a time when memories of their loved ones will come with a smile rather than tears.
“It takes a while for that to happen,” Biden said. “But I promise you. It will come.
He continued, “Jill and I bring you this message from deep in our nation’s soul. In America, evil will not win, I promise you. Hate will not prevail. White supremacy will not have the last word.”
As he spoke, Biden’s tone shifted, swiftly condemning the racist beliefs at the heart of this attack.
“White supremacy is a poison. It’s a poison running through our body politic, and it’s been allowed to fester and grow right in front of our eyes. No more, no more,” Biden said. “Failure in saying that is going to be complicity,” he added. “Silence is complicity. We cannot remain silent.”
Biden also called the attack an example of domestic terrorism and alluded to the prominent voices and sources that have promoted some of the paranoid beliefs espoused by the gunman.
“Hate, that through the media and politics, the internet has radicalized angry, alienated, lost, and isolated individuals into falsely believing that they will be replaced by the other. By people who don’t look like them and who are therefore, in the perverse ideology that they possess and are being fed, lesser beings,” Biden said. “I and all of you reject the lie. I call on all Americans to reject the lie and I condemn those who spread the lie for power, political gain and for profit.”
The president called for a ban on assault weapons like the one utilized in the attack and said that more must be done to address the role the internet has played in radicalization. But Biden said that everyday Americans have to do their part to fight against these beliefs.
“Now’s the time for people of all races, from every background to speak up as a majority in America to reject white supremacy, Biden said, saying these attacks represent the views of “a hateful minority.”
“We can’t allow them to distort America, the real America. We can’t allow them to destroy the soul of the nation,” he said.