President Joe Biden’s speech in Buffalo, New York on Tuesday, three days after a fascist gunman murdered 10 people in a predominantly African-American section of the city, was a cowardly cover-up of the role of the Republican Party in promoting the anti-Semitic and racist conceptions that inspired the killer.
Over the previous two days, scores of articles appeared in the establishment press documenting statements by Republican officials and pro-Trump media commentators promoting the “Replacement Theory” ravings of the Buffalo gunman, Payton Gendron.
In a 180-page online manifesto, Gendron cited previous mass killers who promoted the neo-Nazi claim that Jews are conspiring to replace the white race with immigrants, blacks, Hispanics, Muslims and other “inferior” races. “Jews are the biggest problem the Western world has ever had,” he wrote.
In the aftermath of Trump’s January 6, 2021 attempted coup, which the Republican National Committee has declared “a legitimate form of political discourse,” the support of Republican officials for these conceptions demonstrates that the GOP, one of the two major parties of the American ruling class, is being transformed into a fascistic organization.
Yet, in the course of his remarks, Biden managed to omit the words “Trump” and “Republican.” He did not name a single Republican official (Reps. Scott Perry, Matt Gaetz, Elise Stefanik, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar and others), media outlet (Fox News) or commentator (Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham) who have and continue to promote the racist and anti-Semitic themes of the “Great Replacement.”
Instead, he dissolved the reality of the fascist threat into the disembodied abstractions of “hate” and “evil,” which explain nothing and serve to cover up the actual social and political forces at work.
Biden declared, “In America, evil will not win. I promise you. Hate will not prevail, and white supremacy will not have the last word…”
Feeling obliged to mention the replacement conspiracy theory, Biden attributed it entirely to anti-black racism, never uttering the words “fascism” or “anti-Semitism.”
He spoke of “a hate that, through the media and politics, the internet, has radicalized angry, alienated and lost individuals into falsely believing that they will be replaced. That’s the word. Replaced by the other. By people who don’t look like them.”
He maintained the Democratic Party’s insistence that all social and political problems be viewed through the prism of race, defining the Buffalo shootings exclusively as another expression of white supremacy. He did not link the racist conceptions of the gunman to the anti-Semitism, xenophobia and anticommunism that are critical components of Nazi ideology. This racialist narrative serves to conceal the underlying class issues and foster divisions in the working class, while lending legitimacy to the racialism of anti-black racists.
“White supremacy is a poison,” he said. “It’s a poison. It really is. Running through our body politic. And it’s been allowed to fester and grow right in front of our eyes…”
As to the source of the white supremacist “poison,” one could only surmise that it is embedded in the psyche of “white people.” There was no reference to the malignant social crisis, intensified by the pandemic, or to the growth of militarism and war, the staggering levels of social inequality, the record inflation and the policies of austerity enforced by Biden and both capitalist parties.
Biden said: “Look, the American experiment in democracy is in a danger like it hasn’t been in my lifetime. It’s in danger this hour.” Earlier this year he questioned whether constitutional rule in the US would survive this decade.
Yet he made only a fleeting reference to January 6, implicitly defining it as another example of white supremacy.
All of this was interspersed with moralistic homilies, patriotic blather and citations from scripture.
The only concrete policies Biden advanced to combat far-right terrorism were more intensive internet censorship, which will be inevitably directed against the left and not the right, and gun control.
Following the speech, Biden was asked by a reporter if specific elected officials or media figures were to be blamed for promoting conspiracy theories. He dodged the question, saying, “I believe anybody who echoes replacement theory is to blame—not for this particular crime—but it serves no purpose, no purpose except profit and, or political benefit.”
In a press conference, the new White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, repeatedly refused to name any specific individuals within the Republican Party or the media responsible for promoting these fascistic conceptions. Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, she claimed that this was because the White House did not want to give them “the attention that they desperately want.”
This is a miserable and cowardly evasion aimed at concealing the fascistic transformation of the Republican Party under Trump. Biden denounces racism and right-wing terrorism as the embodiment of “evil,” but he covers for the fascists who promote it within the Republican Party, including those who organized the attempted overthrow of the Constitution and establishment of a dictatorship.
His immediate response to the January 6 coup was to call for a “strong” Republican Party and appeal for “unity.” This remains the policy today.
The reasons for this are lodged in the massive crisis of the capitalist system and the growth of the class struggle.
The Democratic Party, one of the two major parties of American imperialism, fears above all the growth of social opposition in the working class. It has no answers to the problems confronting the masses of people. All of its efforts are focused on suppressing working class opposition through the promotion of racialist politics and the use of the trade union bureaucracy to prevent strikes and mass actions and sabotage them when they break out. It seeks to protect the Republican Party for fear of a breakdown of the two-party system that has served to defend the interests of the ruling class.
This is all the more critical under conditions where the Democratic Party has become the preeminent war party of the US imperialism. Biden has sought to utilize the US proxy war against Russia in Ukraine to overcome divisions within the state apparatus. He opposes anything that disrupts unity with the Republicans in pursuit of the military defeat of Russia.
This includes the arming and glorification of the Azov Battalion, a fascist outfit that plays a leading role in promoting the politics of anti-Semitism and racism internationally.
In his Buffalo speech, Biden attempted to give his fecklessness a populist veneer by condemning “those who spread the lie for power, political gain and for profit.” He restated this theme, declaring, “We have to refuse to live in a country where fear and lies are packaged for power and for profit.”
That is a fair description of capitalism. The key to breaking the back of fascism, racism and anti-Semitism is precisely the unleashing of the immense social power of the working class, breaking through the barriers enforced by the Democrats and the unions. The expansion of the class struggle will open the way to the replacement of a system of “fear and lies for power and profit” with socialism.