- The Washington Times - Friday, March 8, 2019

Former vice president and potential 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden is defending his record on civil rights after The Washington Post resurfaced a 1975 interview in which the then-senator opposed slavery reparations and school busing.

Mr. Biden told the People Paper, a Delaware-based weekly newspaper, in 1975: “I do not buy the concept, popular in the ‘60s, which said, ‘We have suppressed the black man for 300 years and the white man is now far ahead in the race for everything our society offers. In order to even the score, we must now give the black man a head start, or even hold the white man back, to even the race.’ I don’t buy that.

“I don’t feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather,” he continued at the time. “I feel responsible for what the situation is today, for the sins of my own generation. And I’ll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago.”

In the interview, Mr. Biden also opposed government efforts to desegregate schools by “busing” white children to majority-black schools and black children to majority-white schools.

“I oppose busing. It’s an asinine concept, the utility of which has never been proven to me,” he said. “I’ve gotten to the point where I think our only recourse to eliminate busing may be a constitutional amendment.

“The new integration plans being offered are really just quota systems to assure a certain number of blacks, Chicanos, or whatever in each school. That, to me, is the most racist concept you can come up with,” he said. “What it says is, ‘In order for your child with curly black hair, brown eyes, and dark skin to be able to learn anything, he needs to sit next to my blond-haired, blue-eyed son.’ That’s racist! Who the hell do we think we are, that the only way a black man or woman can learn is if they rub shoulders with my white child?”

Mr. Biden declined The Post’s request for an interview but his spokesman, Bill Russo, said the former vice president still believes he was right to oppose busing.

“He never thought busing was the best way to integrate schools in Delaware — a position which most people now agree with,” Mr. Russo said. “As he said during those many years of debate, busing would not achieve equal opportunity. And it didn’t.”

“Regardless of what zip code you’re born in, you should be entitled to a good education,” the spokesman said. “That’s the point he’s making here.”

“Joe Biden is today — and has been for more than 40 years in public life — one of the strongest and most powerful voices for civil rights in America,” he said. “His long commitment to civil rights has repeatedly been recognized by many of the most important civil rights organizations in America.”

Mr. Biden’s office also provided The Post with a statement from Ralph G. Neas, former executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, who said: “We disagreed on busing … but I always looked to Biden as a leader in the field of civil rights in other critical areas.”

Mr. Biden is facing increasing scrutiny for his past political positions as he mulls a 2020 presidential run for a Democratic Party that has moved dramatically to the left in recent years.

CNN similarly unearthed on Thursday a 1993 Senate floor speech that showed Mr. Biden promoting his tough-on-crime bill and warning of “predators on our streets.”

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