I suppose the politically correct thing is to pretend that corporate-imperialist Joe Biden winning the Black vote isn’t like the late Jeffrey Epstein being hailed as a mentor of teenage girls.
Sorry, I don’t do politically correct.
Biden helped author and worked to pass the racist federal mass incarceration Three Strikes crime bill of 1994. He has boasted of his ability to work with segregationists as a U.S. senator in the 1970s, when he opposed federal desegregation busing orders and worried about sending his children to desegregated schools.
He boasts about his ability to work with racist Republicans today.
He offered creepy racialized praise for presidential candidate Barack Obama by calling him “articulate” and “clean.”
He has invoked George Wallace, the former arch-racist Alabama governor and segregationist, to denounce Trump.
During Biden’s first White House bid in the 1980s, he bragged about receiving an award from Wallace while campaigning in the South.
Biden says that “poor kids” can do just as well in school “as white kids.”
He weirdly defended his past alliance with the racist Jim Crow Senator James O. Eastland by saying that Eastland “never called me ‘boy.’”
He thinks he endears himself to Black voters by telling a bizarre story about an alleged past swimming pool confrontation with a young Black tough named “Corn Pop.”
Last September, during the third Democratic presidential debate, a Black female ABC moderator asked Biden the following question about segregated schools, the legacy of slavery, and his past dismissal of the notion of reparations for slavery:
“Mr. Vice President, I want to come to you and talk to you about inequality in schools and race. In a conversation about how to deal with segregation in schools back in 1975, you told a reporter, ‘I don’t feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather… and I’ll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago…’ You said that some 40 years ago. But as you stand here tonight, what responsibility do you think that Americans need to take to repair the legacy of slavery in our country?”
Biden sneered and laughed – yes, sneered (or smirked, if you prefer) and laughed (go here to 2:06:49-53) – as the moderator began her question. Then came Sleep Joe’s pathetic, jumbled, evasive, and raving response (see here at 2:07:23-2:08:44):
“Well, they have to deal with the — look, there’s institutional segregation in this country. And from the time I got involved, I started dealing with that. Red-lining banks, making sure that we are in a position where — look, you talk about education…make sure that we bring in to help the teachers deal with the problems that come from home. The problems that come from home, we need — we have one school psychologist for every 1,500 kids in America today. It’s crazy. The teachers are — I’m married to a teacher. My deceased wife is a teacher. They have every problem coming to them. We have — make sure that every single child does, in fact, have 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds go to school. School. Not daycare. School. We bring social workers into homes and parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It’s not that they don’t want to help. They don’t — they don’t know quite what to do. Play the radio, make sure the television — excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the — the — make sure that kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school — a very poor background will hear 4 million words fewer spoken by the time they get there.”
This was absurd. It was not true that his “deceased wife is a teacher.” How could she have been decades after her death?
Biden’s current wife was/is not an inner-city teacher: she was an English professor who teaches mostly white college students.
Biden’s “record player” line was widely and justly mocked at a comedic level: had Biden not heard about CD and DVDs yet?
Had he never heard of books, and of parents reading to their children?
Did Biden propose to initiate a federal program to distribute phonographs to poor families – a Vinyl New Deal?
The main things to take critical note of were twofold:
1) his complete evasion of the main question the ABC moderator asked him about – his 1975 dismissal of the notion that white America owes Black America anything for centuries of slavery and Jim Crow.
2) the single most coherent thread in Biden’s response: victim blaming. Consistent with his failure to seriously address segregation (a critical lynchpin of racial inequalitysince where one lives is intimately related to the social resources and opportunity one can access) and his total dodging of the reparations question, Biden reflexively defaulted to a vicious neoliberal narrative that placed the blame for Black poverty not on institutions, not on the un-addressed and far-reaching and living reach of the slave system and the racist terror regimes that succeeded that system, but on Black parents who don’t know how to raise their kids the right way.
The writer Anand Giridharadas got it right. “Is this not one of the most explicitly racist moments of all time in a Democratic primary debate?” Giridharadas tweeted. “Asked about his past comments denying responsibility, as a white man, for America’s sins, he gives an answer insinuating that Black parents don’t know how to raise kids….Joe Biden’s answer on how to address the legacy of slavery was appalling…It ended in a sermon implying that black parents don’t know how to raise their own children.”
I’ll leave it to others to explain the complex factors behind Biden’s success “winning the Black vote” in the 2020 primaries – the representational/symbolic association with the nation’s first Black president Barack Obama (unmentionably himself an objectively white-supremacist POTUS); the special noxious role of Black Misleader and South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn’s shameful endorsement; the “pragmatic” (if false) calculation that Biden is more likely to defeat the fascistic Trump than Sanders; Black voters’ doubt that most whites would back a leftish progressive who might actually do something good and real for people of color and the nation’s disproportionately nonwhite poor and working classes; the influx of Democratic money and advertisements into Black South Carolina.
I don’t deny the relevance of those factors. Just don’t tell me that the racist and dementia-addled right-wing clown Joe Biden winning the Black vote isn’t a pathetic statement about the state of racial politics in the U.S. today.
And don’t tell me that the coming nomination of Joe Biden isn’t another sick victory for the Inauthentic Opposition Party of Fake Resistance. Sadly, Biden, with his brains coming out of his ears for years now, is slated to become a squealing seal in the jaws of the Great Orange Shark Donald J. Trump . As Newsweek reported yesterday:
“Joe Biden mistakenly endorsed President Donald Trump during a speech in St. Louis, and Donald Trump responded with ‘I agree with Joe!’ on Twitter. In his speech, former vice president Joe Biden said, ‘We cannot get reelected, we cannot win this reelection, excuse me, we can only re-elect Donald Trump.’ “
“Dan Scavino, Assistant to the President and Director of Social Media at the White House, tweeted a video of Biden’s mistake and called him Sleepy Joe, which is the President’s nickname for Biden. Trump then retweeted the video, agreeing with Biden’s mistaken endorsement.”
“Biden has made similar gaffes recently, including calling himself an ‘O-Biden Bama democrat’ and saying that he is running for the United States Senate…Trump recently mocked Biden over a mistake when Biden said he was looking forward to Super Thursday instead of Super Tuesday. At a campaign rally in Texas, Biden said, ‘Look, tomorrow is Super Thur… Super Tuesday,’ and realizing what he had said, added, “I tell you what, I’m rushing ahead, aren’t I?’”
“Then during a campaign speech in North Carolina, Trump commented on the mistake and said, ‘I thought he gave up the presidency the other day. He said he’s running for the Senate. I looked at the first lady, I said, Hey, he’s running for the senate. Trump then added, ‘And today, he just said ‘Super Thursday.’ He’s looking forward to Super Thursday.’”
Any chance of an intervention here? We are all looking forward to the 2020 Death of Democracy Dementia Debates!
The “pragmatic” calculation is false. Racist tragedies will escalate along with other ones when Biden “can only,” as he says, “Re-Elect Donald Trump.”
1) My sea animal metaphor is admittedly flawed. As John Chrisman wrote me: “The shark is at least merciful enough to make quick work out of the seal. Trump will delight in making the dismemberment of Biden as protracted and as excruciating as he can make it. Trump will be the bored cat who amuses himself with the mouse he has pinned under his paw.”