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Biden condemns 'poison' of US white supremacy

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden pay their respects to the 10 people killed in a mass shooting by a gunman authorities say was motivated by racism, at the TOPS Friendly Markets memorial site in Buffalo, New York, US, May 17, 2022. (Reuters photo)

US President Joe Biden has condemned white supremacists, the media, the internet and American politics for spreading racist theories following the killing of 10 Black people in Buffalo, New York, by a white gunman.

"What happened here is simple and straightforward: Terrorism, terrorism, domestic terrorism," he said on Tuesday in Buffalo.

Payton Gendron, a white American gunman, shot dead 10 people and injured three others in a mass shooting at a Black neighborhood in New York, in an act of "racially motivated violent extremism."

Following the mass shooting on Saturday, the 18-year-old gunman surrendered to police in what authorities said would be investigated as a hate crime.

Authorities said the suspect, who was armed with an assault-style rifle, came to Buffalo from a New York county "hours away" to target the store in a predominantly Black community.

"White supremacy is a poison. It's a poison - it really is - running through our body politic," said Biden, who spoke moments after meeting with families of the victims as well as first responders, according to Reuters. "We need to say as clearly and forcefully as we can that the ideology of white supremacy has no place in America. None."

Black residents on Sunday expressed anguish about the racism and white supremacy that fueled the deadliest massacre in modern American history.

The demonstrators aired grievances about their communities being forgotten by authorities on the largely impoverished East Side. They called on politicians to direct more resources to protect Buffalo’s Black residents, whose lives and sense of security have long been disturbed by racism and gun violence.

A number of Democrats and some Republicans have denounced their GOP colleagues for what they call scaremongering around immigration and race, following the deadly incident.

According to the “great replacement theory,” there is an intentional effort, through immigration, to have white Americans replaced with people of color.

The gunman, in his manifesto published online, cited other mass shooters as his inspiration.

On Sunday, Biden slammed the so-called replacement theory.

"Hate and fear are being given too much oxygen by those who pretend to love America," Biden said, blaming politics and profits.

"Now is the time for the people of all races, from every background to speak up as a majority of America and reject white supremacy," he said.

Biden has repeatedly said he decided to challenge former President Donald Trump in 2020 after the Republican equivocated in his reaction to violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

Trump’s grip on the Republican Party remains strong.

Democrats: GOP agenda ‘fueled’ by white supremacy

Meanwhile, Democratic leaders have denounced Republicans for embracing the racist conspiracy theory that inspired the suspected gunman.

“It is anti-Semitic; it is racist, and it is very destructive. And it is a pillar of the current GOP,” Rep. Katherine Clark (Mass.), the fourth-ranking House Democrat, told reporters in the Capitol on Tuesday.

Clark was referring to the “replacement theory,” a theory that maintains that nonwhite people are being brought to the United States to replace white voters and dilute their power. The gunman cited the so-called “great replacement theory” in a manifesto published online before killing about a dozen Black people. 

Democrats accused Republicans of seeking all the political advantages that come with promoting nativism without accepting any of the consequences when someone takes the message too far.

“They won’t call it out. They won’t apologize. They won’t back off,” Clark said. “Their agenda right now is fueled by these very forces of white supremacy, of white nationalism, and they are not changing course.”

Republicans rejected accusations that their rhetoric fueled white supremacists or contributed to the Buffalo shooting.

“We have never supported white supremacy,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Monday. “What happened in New York is horrific, and I think everybody should be there to be uplifting the community. The suspect is the very worst of humanity.”

Republicans have also slammed Democrats for politicizing the Buffalo shooting.

“For political individuals to try to make some political game out of this shows how little they are from that aspect,” McCarthy said Monday.

US Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) argued that a majority of mass shootings that take place in the United States are done by white supremacists.

Murphy called on Republicans to condemn “hateful theories about replacement.”

“You see this throughline from El Paso to Charleston to Buffalo in which white supremacists who feed off of this online conversation about the ‘replacement theory’, fed by mainstream conservative and Republican institutions, are turning their anger into mass violence,” Murphy said.

Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), the vice-chair of the Democratic Caucus, said the Republican shift to the right under Trump eroded public trust in national institutions.

“This broken ideology is animating today’s Republican Party,” he said. “What once would have been disqualifying is now a mainstream point of view. In fact, it’s a prerequisite, in many ways, to hold Republican leadership.”

In the wake of the shooting, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) alleged that top House Republicans had “enabled white nationalism, white supremacy.”

“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 added in a tweet on Monday.

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