On Monday, Democratic nominee Joe Biden again blamed President Donald Trump for the violent and Black Lives Matter riots across the country. He drew a clear line between protest and violence and condemned armed or right-wing militias, without once mentioning antifa or Black Lives Matter rioters. He attacked Trump for refusing to condemn militias while himself refusing to condemn antifa. He suggested that the riots would end if he wins the election because he sympathizes with their concerns more than Trump.
“This president long ago forfeited any moral leadership. He can’t stop the violence because for years he has fomented it,” Biden said. “He may believe mouthing the words ‘law and order’ makes him strong, but his failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting as an armed militia in this country shows how weak he is.”
Militia, militia, militia
The Democrat repeated the term “militias” twice more, in each case tying them to Trump and violence.
“He adds fuel to every fire because he refuses to acknowledge that there is a racial justice problem in America because he will not stand up to any form of violence. He has no problem with right-wing militia and vigilantes,” Biden said of Trump. Yes, Biden said Trump “will not stand up to any form of violence,” even though the president has repeatedly condemned the violent antifa and Black Lives Matter riots, asking for Democratic leaders in cities like Portland to request National Guard assistance.
The Democrat also accused Trump of “stoking violence… violence we’ve seen again and again and again, unwarranted police shooting, excessive force, seven bullets in the back of Jacob Blake, knee on the neck of George Floyd, killing Breonna Taylor in her own apartment, violence of extremists and opportunists, right-wing militias.”
There is no evidence that Trump’s rhetoric had anything to do with the police use of force against George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, or Jacob Blake. In fact, Trump vocally condemned the mistreatment of George Floyd and opened an FBI investigation into the case. Trump has also championed criminal justice reform, signing the First Step Act.
As for the “militias,” some armed citizens have attempted to defend private property in response to the antifa and Black Lives Matter-inspired violent riots, looting, and arson. Tragically, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse opened fire after rioters pursued him in Kenosha, killing two rioters and wounding one. Rittenhouse should not have gone to Kenosha, but there is no evidence to back up the viral claims that he was a white supremacist. Before the shootings, he helped provide medical aid to rioters whom police had hit with pepper spray.
Meanwhile, antifa and Black Lives Matter looters and rioters have sporadically engaged in violence for nearly 100 days, especially in Portland and Seattle. Biden covered for these far-left agitators, condemning Trump for cracking down on “peaceful protesters” when the Trump administration sent extra federal officers to protect the federal courthouse in Portland, which rioters attempted to burn down almost every night for a month.
If Trump is at all culpable for the “right-wing militias” that only recently showed up at these leftist riots, how much more is Biden culpable for the far-left agitators who caused the violence in the first place?
Condemning violence, but only in general
To his credit, Biden vocally condemned violence in his speech on Monday, contrasting rioting and peaceful protest. Yet this condemnation came only after months of violent antifa riots in Portland and elsewhere, and Biden has not explicitly denounced the rioters responsible in the same way he suggested Trump must denounce the “militias.”
“I want to make something clear, rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. None of this is protesting. It is lawlessness plain and simple,” the Democratic nominee said. “Those who do it should be prosecuted. Violence will not bring change, only destruction… It divides instead of unites, it destroys businesses and hurts working families.”
Yet even after this, Biden worked in another dig at Trump. “Fires are burning and we have a president who fans the flames rather than fighting the flames. We must not burn, we have to build,” he said.
Biden argued that “Trump looks at this violence and he sees a political lifeline, having failed to protect this nation from the virus that has killed more than one hundred eighty thousand Americans, Trump posts a tweet screaming law and order to save his campaign.”
“This is a sitting president of the United States of America, supposed to be protecting this country, but he is rooting for chaos and violence. The simple truth is Donald Trump failed to protect America so now he is trying to scare America,” the Democrat charged.
Biden can end the violence because he agrees with the rioters…
He also claimed to find it “fascinating” that the Trump campaign warns, “You will not be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”
“And what is the proof? The violence we are seeing in Trump’s America,” Biden quipped. “Frankly, if I were president today the country would be safer and we would see a lot less violence. Here is why. I have said we must address the issue of racial injustice. I personally have spoken to George Floyd’s family and Jacob Blake’s family, I know their pain, and so do you. I know the justice they seek. So do you. They told us none of this violence respects or honors George or Jacob.”
Yet Trump has acknowledged racial disparities in policing and he signed criminal justice reform into law. Trump has spoken with the family of George Floyd.
Perhaps Biden can promise some semblance of peace because the looters and rioters may be mollified somewhat by the Democrat’s increasingly radical left-wing agenda and his far-left allies like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). It is quite plausible that far-left agitators are holding America hostage and will only stop their violence if Trump loses.
Trump responded to Biden’s speech along those lines. “Just watched what Biden had to say. To me, he’s blaming the Police far more than he’s blaming the Rioters, Anarchists, Agitators, and Looters, which he could never blame or he would lose the Radical Left Bernie supports!”
All of America’s struggles are Trump’s fault
In the end, Biden’s argument boiled down to the idea that Trump is responsible for everything that happens in America during his presidency, regardless of whether or not he encouraged the rioters and regardless of whether or not he could have stopped things.
“We are facing multiple crises — crises that, under Donald Trump, keep multiplying,” the Democrat noted. “COVID, economic devastation, unwarranted police violence, emboldened white nationalists, a reckoning on race, declining faith in a bright American future. The common thread? An incumbent president who makes things worse, not better. An incumbent president who sows chaos rather than providing order.”
Yet on the coronavirus pandemic, Trump took many of the actions Biden has previously supported. The president wants to reopen the economy, while Biden wants to shut it down again. When it comes to police violence, Trump champions criminal justice reform. Trump has vocally condemned white nationalists. America is struggling, but many of these very real problems are far from the president’s fault.
As for Biden’s suggestion that Trump’s divisive rhetoric is ultimately responsible for the partisanship and the riots, the Democrat overlooked a great deal of his own rhetoric and that of his own party.
Democratic politicians started not just demonizing their opponents but also encouraging supporters to harass them. Before the 2018 election, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) called for activists to harass members of the Trump administration in public places like gas stations and restaurants. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) encouraged activists to “get up in the face” of Republican candidates and office-holders. Hillary Clinton said Democrats “cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for.” Eric Holder declared, “When they go low, we kick them.”
Racial tensions actually got worse under President Barack Obama. Also, when it comes to division in politics, Biden is an expert. After all, he orchestrated the character destruction of Robert Bork, whose last name became a verb because of the merciless way Democrats destroyed his character. Biden told black Americans that Mitt Romney — Mitt Romney, of all people — would “put y’all back in chains.” Oh, and Biden told black Americans that if they even considered voting for Trump, “you ain’t black.”
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.