President Biden on Tuesday railed against media figures and politicians whom he said spread White supremacist ideology for “power and profit.”
Speaking in Buffalo, New York, he blamed hatemongers in the media and politics for motivating the 18-year-old White man to carry out the mass shooting Saturday in a Black neighborhood in the city.
Mr. Biden mourned the violence as a “simple and straightforward” act of domestic terrorism “inflicted in the service of hate and the vicious thirst for power.”
He blamed “a hate that through the media, and politics, the internet, has radicalized [and] alienated any … lost and isolated individuals into falsely believing that they will be replaced, that’s the word, replaced, by people who don’t look like them.”
“I call all Americans to reject the lie,” he said. “And I condemn those who spread the lie for power, political gain, and for-profit.”
Authorities said the accused shooter, Payton Gendron, was motivated by racial animus when he targeted shoppers at the grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood.
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Mr. Gendron is believed to have posted a 180-page manifesto online that outlined a self-described White supremacist ideology motivating the attack, including his fears of a “complete racial and cultural replacement of the European people.”
Mr. Biden’s remarks, echo messaging from Democrats in Congress who have condemned Republicans and Fox News hosts for the spread of the “great replacement” theory, which holds that non-White people are infiltrating America to wipe out Whites and diminish their political influence.
The White House has declined to specifically call out Republicans or any specific individuals for spreading the theory or other white supremacist propaganda.
“This is not about politics,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday. “This is about people’s lives,” she said. “It’s about making sure that we’re doing everything we can [to] uproot this evil that we’re seeing. That’s what the president is going to continue to do.”
In his remarks in Buffalo, Mr. Biden cut closer to the bone.
“White supremacy is a poison… running through our body politic,” he said. “It’s been allowed to fester and grow right in front of our eyes.”
“We have to refuse to live in a country where fear and lies are packaged for power and for profit,” he said.
Democrats and some Republicans in Congress have been less veiled in their remarks blaming members of the GOP and conservative media outlets for spreading the ideology that they say led to the shooting.
“House GOP leadership has enabled White nationalism, White supremacy and antisemitism,” tweeted Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican who was ousted from her leadership position after feuds over former President Donald Trump.
“History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse. GOP leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them,” she said.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, penned a letter to Fox News executives Tuesday urging the network to “cease the reckless amplification of the so-called ‘Great Replacement’ theory on your network’s broadcasts.”
“For years, these types of beliefs have existed at the fringes of American life. However, this pernicious theory, which has no basis in fact, has been injected into the mainstream thanks in large part to a dangerous level of amplification by your network and its anchors,” Mr. Schumer wrote.
Democrats have been especially critical of Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson, whom they accuse of regularly pushing the “replacement theory” on his prime-time show. Mr. Schumer cc’d Mr. Carlson in his letter, which was addressed to Fox Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch and other senior executives.
When reached for comment a spokesperson from Fox pointed The Washington Times to a transcript from Mr. Carlson’s show on Monday in which he condemned the shooting in Buffalo and condemned what he said are rising racial tensions in the U.S.
“There is only one answer to rising racial tension, and that is to de-escalate and do what we have done and tried to do for hundreds of years, which has work toward color-blind meritocracy, and treat people as human beings created by God, rather than as faceless members of interest groups that might benefit some political party or other,” Mr. Carlson said on his show.
Mr. Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Brian Higgins, all Democrats from New York, traveled with the president to Buffalo.
In response to the shooting, Mr. Biden said the U.S. should take steps to “keep weapons off our streets” and “prevent people from being radicalized to violence” online.
“The American experiment and democracy is in danger like it hasn’t been in my lifetime,” he said. “Hate and fear are being given too much oxygen by those who pretend to love America.”
The shooting has spurred congressional Democrats to reinvigorate legislation to use more federal resources to fight domestic terrorism. After being stalled last month, Democrats are advancing a bill that would create domestic terrorism units within the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department.
Members of the far-left “Squad” opposed the legislation over concerns that the federal government lacks a clear definition of what constitutes a domestic terrorist.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said in a statement following the shooting in Buffalo that the House will consider additional measures to “strengthen efforts to combat domestic terrorism.”
Republicans raised concerns about Mr. Biden’s focus on domestic terrorism, which they say is really just a political effort to target conservatives.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Monday that authorities have yet to determine whether the shooting constitutes an act of domestic terrorism.
“It is being investigated, as the FBI articulated, as a hate crime,” Mr. Mayorkas said at the White House. “The term ‘domestic terrorism’ is a legal term, and because the investigation is ongoing, I won’t employ that term.”
Among other things, ties to “domestic terrorism” can make murder a capital offense under federal law, while New York does not have the death penalty for the state crime of murder.