Former Vice President Joe Biden vowed Saturday to “rip the roots of systemic racism out of this country” in a Fourth of July message that contrasted sharply with President Trump’s warning at a Mt. Rushmore fireworks display that “angry mobs” at protests against racism were assaulting America’s history and culture.
In a video posted on Twitter, Biden, Trump’s presumed Democratic challenger, said the United States had never lived up to the statement in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.” That phrase has “gnawed at our conscience” through more than 200 years of institutionalized racism, including the recent police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, he said.
“America is no fairy tale,” Biden said. “It’s been a constant push and pull between the two parts of our character, the idea that all men and women — all people — are created equal, and the racism that has torn us apart. We have a chance now to give the marginalized, the demonized, the isolated, the oppressed, a full share of the American dream.”
Biden’s remarks came hours after Trump told a crowd of mainly white supporters Friday night at Mt. Rushmore that America was facing a growing danger from anti-racism protesters’ “merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children.” He accused them of promoting what he labeled a “new far-left fascism.”
At another Fourth of July celebration Saturday on the South Lawn of the White House, Trump hammered away at the same theme, underscoring how appeals to racial resentments are at the heart of his reelection campaign.
“We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters and people who in many instances have absolutely no clue what they are doing,” Trump said.
Trump’s combative response to the Black Lives Matter protests that have swept the nation for weeks comes despite polls indicating most Americans support the movement. When New York City recently announced it would paint “Black Lives Matter” on Fifth Avenue outside Trump Tower, the president denounced it as a “symbol of hate.”
In an essay published Saturday by NBC News, Biden said Americans had “marched and bled” to build a better democracy since the nation’s founding, citing the abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement.
“That pursuit of a more perfect union has been thrown off course in recent years — and no one bears more responsibility than President Donald Trump,” Biden said. “Every day he finds new ways to tarnish and dismantle our democracy — from baseless attacks on our voting rights to the use of military force against Americans protesting peacefully for racial justice.”
Biden said he would restore democratic values in part by reversing Trump’s “cruel and counterproductive” immigration policies, including the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexican border.
He also vowed to eradicate “systemic racism from every area of society it infects — from unfairly administered COVID-19 recovery funds, to laws that perpetuate racial wealth gaps, to health disparities, to housing policy, to policing, to our justice system and everywhere in between.”