Chris Megerian and Zick Miller
BUFFALO (AP) – President Joe Biden mourned Buffalo’s grieving families on Tuesday and then called on the nation to reject what he angrily called the poison of white supremacy. He said the nation should “reject the lies” of the racist “replacement theory” supported by the shooter who killed 10 black people in Buffalo.
Speaking to the victims’ families, local officials and emergency services, Biden said America’s diversity was its strength, and warned that the nation should not be distorted by a “hated minority”. He promised to “expose” those who promote the hated ideology.
“The American experiment in democracy is in danger, which was not in my life,” Biden said. “At this hour it is in danger. Hatred and fear that give too much oxygen to those who pretend to love America but don’t understand America. “
He promised, “Evil will not prevail in America, I promise you. Hatred will not win, white supremacy will not have the last word. “
Returning to the White House on Tuesday night, Biden blamed the Buffalo and other incident not only on “fools” who commit hate crimes, but also on those who “fill their brains with false ideas.”
While he was president, he said, “I’ll fight like hell and we’ll expose everyone.”
Biden’s emotional remarks came after he and First Lady Jill Biden paid tribute at an impromptu memorial of flowers, candles and condolences at the Tops supermarket, where on Saturday a young man armed with a machine gun targeted black people in the deadliest race. in the United States since Biden took office.
“Jill and I came to be with you, and for the families we came to grieve with you,” Biden said.
He added: “Now is the time for people of all races, from all backgrounds, to speak out as the majority … and reject white supremacy.”
Replacement theory is a racist ideology that has moved from white nationalist circles to the mainstream, arguing that white people and their influence are deliberately “replaced” by colored people through immigration and birth rates.
In Buffalo, the president again faced forces of hatred that, he often says, prompted him back to seek the White House.
“It’s important for him to appear before families and society and express his condolences,” said Derrick Johnson, NAACP president. “But we are more concerned that this will not happen in the future.”
It is unclear how Biden can do this. Proposals for new gun restrictions have been repeatedly blocked by Republicans, and racist rhetoric spreading on the fringes of national politics has only intensified.
Asked about gun law, Biden said at the airport: “It will be very difficult. … I’m not going to give up trying. “
Wayne Jones, whose mother Celestine Cheney was killed in the attack, said he appreciated Biden’s time to meet with families, but he was not optimistic that Washington would succeed without ending the guerrilla division.
Money is also a big problem, he said. “They make a lot of money buying weapons – who needs an AR-15?”
Biden’s condemnation of white supremacy is a message he has uttered several times since becoming the first president to specifically address this in his inaugural address. However, such beliefs remain an entrenched threat at a time when his administration has focused on fighting the pandemic, inflation and war in Ukraine.
In his speech on Tuesday, Biden paid tribute to each of the 10 people who lost their lives, describing them as beacons of their community and deeply devoted to their families.
Three more people were injured. Almost all the victims were black, including all the dead.
The shooter’s writings echo the words of white supremacists who marched with torches in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, a scene that Biden said inspired his decision to run against President Donald Trump in 2020 and led him to join in. he calls it “the battle for the soul of America.”
In Buffalo, 18-year-old Peyton Hendron was arrested at a supermarket and charged with murder. He pleaded not guilty. His lawyers declined to comment on Tuesday.
Hendron reportedly posted a banner full of racism and anti-Semitism on the Internet before the shooting. The author called himself a supporter of Dylan Rufus, who killed nine black parishioners at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, and Brenton Taranto, who attacked a mosque in New Zealand in 2019.
Investigators are considering Hendron’s connection to the so-called “big replacement” theory.
“I condemn those who spread lies for power, political gain and profit,” Biden said, without naming those who believe they are responsible for perpetuating it.
Claims for replacement are often intertwined with anti-Semitism, and Jews are identified as the culprits. During the Unite the Right march in 2017 in Charlottesville, supporters of white supremacy chanted “Jews will not replace us.”
In the years since Charlottesville, substitution theory has shifted from the Internet country to basic right-wing politics. One-third of U.S. adults believe that there is “a group of people in this country trying to replace Native Americans with immigrants who agree with their political views,” according to a December poll by the Associated Press-NORC’s Center for Public Relations Research.
Tucker Carlson, a Fox News presenter, is a well-known TV personality who accuses Democrats of organizing mass migration in order to consolidate their power.
“The country is being stolen from American citizens,” he said in August last year. A month later, he repeated the theme, saying that “this policy is called a great replacement, a replacement for the legacy of Americans by more obedient people from distant lands.”
Carlson’s show usually gets the highest ratings in cable news, and he responded to a furor Monday night by accusing liberals of trying to silence their opponents.
“Therefore, because a mentally ill teenager killed strangers, you cannot be allowed to express your political convictions out loud,” he said.
His commentary reflects how this conspiratorial view of immigration spread through the Republican Party ahead of this year’s midterm elections, which will determine control of Congress.
An ad on Facebook posted last year by MP Eliza Stefanik’s election committee, RN.Y., said Democrats wanted a “permanent MEMORIAL OF THE ELECTION” through an amnesty for illegal immigrants. This plan should “overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.”
Alex Degras, a senior adviser to Stefanica’s company, said Monday that she had “never advocated a racist position or made racist statements.” He criticized the “nasty and false messages” about her advertising.
Stefanic is the third-ranked leader of the Republican House of Representatives, replacing MP Liz Cheney, R-Vayo, who angered the party with her denunciations of Trump after the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
Cheney tweeted Monday that the Caucasus leadership “allowed white nationalism, white supremacy and anti-Semitism. History has taught us that what begins with words ends much worse. ”
Associated Press writers Robert Bamstead, Karen Matthews and Jennifer Peltz of New York contributed to this report.