Monday 19 August 2019

Biden blames president's 'toxic tongue' for rise of white supremacy in US

Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden. Photo: Reuters
Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden. Photo: Reuters

Tim Reid

Democratic presidential front-runner and former US vice-president Joe Biden accused President Donald Trump of fuelling the white supremacy that's blamed for several mass shootings in the United States, according to a speech Mr Biden was due to deliver yesterday.

Mr Biden (76) was scheduled to speak in Iowa after the back-to-back mass shootings this past weekend in the United States.

In the first, on Saturday, a gunman killed 22 people in El Paso, a Texas city on the border with Mexico.

Law enforcement agencies say that the gunman apparently was driven by hatred for Hispanics.

In the second mass shooting, a gunman in Dayton, Ohio, killed nine people, including his sister, before he was killed by police.

Mr Trump's rhetoric, including calling Central Americans trying to enter the United States "an invasion", and his hardline immigration policies have exposed him to condemnation since the El Paso shooting.

"How far is it from Trump's saying this 'is an invasion' to the shooter in El Paso declaring 'his attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas?' Not far at all," Mr Biden was due to say, according to an advance copy of his speech.

"In both clear language and in code, this president has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation."

Mr Trump's aides deny his rhetoric was a cause of the shootings.

In a national address, the president proposed reforming mental health laws, working with social media to detect possible mass shooters and keeping guns away from people considered potentially violent.

He planned to visit El Paso and Dayton yesterday.

Mr Biden is one of 24 candidates trying to become the nominee to take on Mr Trump in next November's election.

Iowa is among the first states to vote in the Democratic nomination process.

Mr Biden was expected to invoke the rhetoric of previous Republican and Democratic presidents, including Republican George W Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton, who he said "opposed hate".

Mr Biden was due to say "we have a president who has aligned himself with the darkest forces in the nation.

"We have a president with a toxic tongue who has publicly and unapologetically embraced a political strategy of hate, racism and division."

One of his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, US Senator Cory Booker, was planning to give his own speech on white nationalism and gun violence at the historically black South Carolina church where white supremacist Dylann Roof shot and killed nine people in 2015.

"These acts of hatred do not happen in a vacuum," Mr Booker was expected to say at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, according to his prepared remarks.

"They are harvested only once they have been planted."

Irish Independent

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