Buffalo shooting: US President Joe Biden condemns racism and mourns new victims

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday condemned the poison of white supremacy and said the nation must “reject the lie” of the racist “replacement theory” espoused by the shooter who killed 10 black Americans to Buffalo.

Addressing victims’ families, local officials and first responders, Biden said America’s diversity is its strength and the nation must not be distorted by a “hateful minority.”

“In America evil will not win, I promise you that,” Biden said. “Hate will not prevail, white supremacy will not have the last word.”

Biden spoke after he and first lady Jill Biden paid their respects on Tuesday at an improvised memorial of flowers, candles and condolence messages outside the Tops supermarket, where a young man armed with an assault rifle on Saturday targeted blacks in the deadliest racist attack in the United States since Biden took office.

In Buffalo, the president was once again confronting the forces of hate he often says called him back to seek the White House.
“Jill and I came to support you, and to the families, we came to grieve with you,” Biden said. He added, “Now is the time for people of all races, from all walks of life, to speak out as majority and Americans and reject white supremacy.”

Replacement theory can be described as a racist ideology, which has moved from white nationalist circles into the mainstream, that says white people and their influence are intentionally “replaced” by people of color.

Biden’s condemnation of white supremacy is a message he’s delivered repeatedly since becoming the first president to specifically address white supremacy in an inaugural speech, calling it “the domestic terrorism we must deal with.” face”. However, such beliefs remain an entrenched threat at a time when his administration has focused on tackling the pandemic, inflation and war in Ukraine.

The White House said the president and first lady “will mourn with the community that lost 10 lives in a senseless and horrific mass shooting.” Three other people were injured. Almost all of the victims were black, including all of those who died.

On Monday, Biden paid special tribute to one of the victims, retired police officer Aaron Salter, who worked as a security guard at the store. He said Salter “gave his life trying to save others” by opening fire on the shooter, before being killed himself.

U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden pay their respects to the victims of Saturday’s shooting at a memorial across from TOPS Market in Buffalo, NY, May 17, 2022. (AP)

Upon their arrival in Buffalo, the president and the two New York senators were greeted by Governor Kathy Hochul, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and local police and firefighters.

The shooter’s hateful writings echoed those of white supremacists who marched with torches in 2017 in Charlottesville, Va., a scene that Biden says inspired his decision to run against President Donald Trump in 2020 and which pushed him to join what he calls the “battle for America’s soul.”

“It is important for him to come forward for the families and the community and to express his condolences,” said Derrick Johnson, the president of the NAACP. “But we are more concerned about preventing this from happening again in the future.”

It’s unclear how Biden will try to do that. Proposals for new gun restrictions have been routinely blocked by Republicans, and the racist rhetoric adopted on the fringes of national politics has only intensified.

Payton Gendron appears for arraignment in Buffalo Court, May 14, 2022, in Buffalo, NY. (AP)

Payton Gendron, 18, was arrested at the supermarket and charged with murder. He pleaded not guilty.

Prior to the shooting, Gendron reportedly posted an overflowing screed of racism and anti-Semitism online. The author of the document described himself as a supporter of Dylann Roof, who killed nine black parishioners at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, and Brenton Tarrant, who targeted mosques in New Zealand in 2019.

Investigators are studying Gendron’s connection to the so-called “great replacement” theory, which baselessly claims that white people are intentionally invaded by other races through immigration or higher birth rates.

Claims are often intertwined with anti-Semitism, with Jews being identified as the culprits. At the 2017 “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, white supremacists chanted “Jews will not replace us.”

“A lot of those dark voices still exist today,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday. “And the president is determined as he was at the time. . . to ensure that we fight against these forces of hatred, evil and violence.

In the years following Charlottesville, replacement theory shifted from the online fringe to mainstream right-wing politics. According to a poll conducted in December by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Tucker Carlson, the eminent FoxNews host, accuses Democrats of orchestrating mass migrations to consolidate their power.

“The country is being stolen from American citizens,” he said on August 23, 2021. He repeated the same theme a month later, saying that “this policy is called the great replacement, the replacement of inherited Americans by more obedient people from distant lands”. .” Carlson’s show regularly receives the highest ratings on cable news, and he responded to the furor Monday night by accusing the Liberals of trying to silence their opponents.

“So because a mentally ill teenager murdered foreigners, you can’t be allowed to voice your political beliefs out loud,” he said.

His comment reflects how this conspiratorial view of immigration has spread through the Republican Party ahead of this year’s midterm elections, which will determine control of Congress.

Facebook ads posted last year by Rep. Elise Stefanik, RN.Y.’s campaign committee said Democrats want a “PERMANENT VICTORY INSURGENCY” by granting amnesty to illegal immigrants.

The plan would “overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.” Alex DeGrasse, senior adviser to Stefanik’s campaign, said Monday that she “has never taken a racist position or made a racist statement.” He criticized the “sickening and false reports” on his advertisements.

FBI investigators enter the Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York, on May 16, 2022. (AP)

Stefanik is the third House Republican caucus leader, replacing Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who angered the party with her denunciations of Trump after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Cheney, in a tweet on Monday, said caucus leadership “enabled white nationalism, white supremacy and anti-Semitism. History has taught us that what begins with words ends up much worse. The replacement theory rhetoric has also trickled down to Republican primary campaigns.

Although Biden hasn’t spoken directly about the replacement theory, his warnings about racism remain a staple of his public speeches.

Three days before the Buffalo shooting, at a Democratic fundraiser in Chicago, Biden said, “I really think we’re still in the battle for the soul of America.”

Kevin E. Boling