Former Vice President Joe Biden told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Thursday that he plans to "fight antisemitism" by enacting new gun control laws, aggressively prosecuting "hate crimes" and passing a "new federal domestic terrorism law."
The last federal domestic terrorism law the US passed was the civil liberties destroying so-called "PATRIOT Act," which Joe Biden voted for.
From the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, "Joe Biden: My plan to fight antisemitism":
[BIDEN:] We have a serious problem with rising tides of white supremacy and antisemitism — both in America, on the political right and left, and around the world. It's not a new phenomenon, but it is the responsibility of leaders everywhere to work aggressively to combat this poison. Instead, we have a president who, in clear language and in code, encourages and emboldens it.
After Charlottesville, Donald Trump gave renewed license and safe harbor for hate to white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and the KKK. There's a short line from those people marching with tiki torches in Charlottesville chanting "Jews will not replace us" to the shooter at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh saying Jews "were committing genocide to his people."
We need a comprehensive approach to battling antisemitism that takes seriously both the violence that accompanies it and the hateful and dangerous lies that undergird it. [...]
We must also address the extremist, white supremacist violence that has sparked so much bloodshed, especially with Trump fanning the flames of hatred and hollowing out resources we put in place during the Obama-Biden administration to address domestic extremism. I'll restore that funding and work to pass a federal domestic terrorism law. We can craft legislation that respects free speech and civil liberties, while making the same commitment as a nation to root out domestic terrorism as we have to stopping international terrorism. We must appoint leadership at the U.S. Department of Justice who will prioritize the prosecution of hate crimes — making clear that there is no place for such vitriol in this country.
And we must break the nexus between extremism and gun violence by enacting sensible gun control laws. As president, I'll make sure assault weapons and high capacity magazines are banned again, and we'll put in place a buy-back program to get as many of these weapons of war as possible off our streets.
Biden went on to praise Israel and insist the country must maintain its identity as a "Jewish state."
Biden himself was accused of advancing ethnic stereotypes in a 2013 speech he gave to a Jewish group in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month.
From New York Magazine, MAY 22, 2013, "Biden Praises Jews, Goes Too Far, Accidentally Thrills Anti-Semites":
Joe Biden spoke last night in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month. [...]
Biden's remarks were not anti-Semitic. They were very, very philo-Semitic. The thrust of his largely unscripted monologue is that Jews have contributed enormously to the United States. That's obviously a standard spiel for praising any ethnic group, but Biden took care to emphasize that Jews have not just contributed their share to the United States, but far more:
The Jewish people have contributed greatly to America. No group has had such an outsized influence per capita as all of you standing before you, and all of those who went before me and all of those who went before you ...
You make up 11 percent of the seats in the United States Congress. You make up one-third of all Nobel laureates ...
I think you, as usual, underestimate the impact of Jewish heritage. I really mean that. I think you vastly underestimate the impact you've had on the development of this nation.
... "The embrace of immigration" is part of that, as is the involvement of Jews in social justice movements.
"You can't talk about the civil rights movement in this country without talking about Jewish freedom riders and Jack Greenberg," he said, telling a story about seeing a group of Jewish activists at a segregated movie theater in Delaware. "You can't talk about the women's movement without talking about Betty Friedan" ...
"I believe what affects the movements in America, what affects our attitudes in America are as much the culture and the arts as anything else," he said. That's why he spoke out on gay marriage "apparently a little ahead of time."
"It wasn't anything we legislatively did. It was 'Will and Grace,' it was the social media. Literally. That's what changed peoples' attitudes. That's why I was so certain that the vast majority of people would embrace and rapidly embrace" gay marriage, Biden said.
"Think behind of all that, I bet you 85 percent of those changes, whether it's in Hollywood or social media are a consequence of Jewish leaders in the industry. The influence is immense, the influence is immense. And, I might add, it is all to the good."
"Biden's intentions here are obviously as friendly as can be, but the execution is awkward," commented NY Mag's Jonathan Chait at the time.
"The main problem here is that gay rights, unlike black civil rights, are politically controversial at the moment."
[Header image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr]
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