Although it’s easy to forget, Charlottesville impacted Joe Biden in a profound and deeply personal way. It was this world-historical event that shook him out of a moral torpor and convinced him of the necessity of saving America’s troubled soul from Donald Trump.
Biden’s awakening turned out to be prescient. As it happens, Charlottesville was just the start of a campaign of white supremacist terror commandeered directly from the White House, one that reached new extremes this summer, as large groups of white supremacists looted and torched entire neighborhoods. One of these groups was a shadowy right-wing organization called the Proud Boys, with which Trump is personally conspiring to overthrow the United States government in case he loses the election.
We know all of this due to part of an answer to a single question Trump was asked at last week’s presidential debate. Trump told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by,” apparently forgetting that conspiracies are meant to be kept secret. For those who missed it, our diligent news media were careful to warn Americans of this grave threat for several days after the fact.
In Gettysburg on Tuesday, Biden’s campaign came full circle as he recapitulated this stark vision of what is ailing the country. “We have no need for armed militias roaming America’s streets, and we should have no tolerance for extremist white supremacy groups, menacing our communities.”
You can be forgiven if you’re a little confused by all this. Did time freeze in the 1870s? What world is Biden living in? Even Charlottesville feels like a tired anachronism by now. How many times do we have to hear about how Trump praised the “fine people” on both sides—which is a lie, by the way—before we’re allowed to acknowledge that Americans today are in far greater danger from groups like Black Lives Matter than they are from, say, the Ku Klux Klan, which has been a serious threat to precisely no one for decades? Aren’t there some contemporary examples of this “white supremacist” threat, without having to reach back to the same event, the same Jim Crow terrors, over and over again? Apparently not.
The reason for this propaganda isn’t mysterious. Unable to tell voters the truth about what they believe, and unwilling to accept accountability for the violence they have unleashed on the country, Biden and the Left are trying to scare Americans instead with boogeymen from the past.
As they go about this, their want of material, and scruples, is plain to see. In an astonishingly malicious and dishonest video, Biden uses the visage of Kyle Rittenhouse, a teenager on trial for murder after shooting rioters in self-defense, alongside images from Charlottesville, which has no relevance to Rittenhouse or to the current unrest. Then there’s a shot of Trump supporters driving through Portland with paintball guns. That’s Biden’s impression of what’s been happening in America the last few months.
In his similarly deceptive “Be Not Afraid” advertisement, Biden uses images of cities torched by the Left this summer to blame Trump and his supporters. “[Trump]s] failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting as an armed militia in this country shows how weak he is,” Biden says.
By now, Biden has learned to mouth the words he needs to say to avoid scaring voters. Of course he thinks violence is bad. Just don’t ask him about Black Lives Matter or Antifa. Those are just “ideas.” Of course he doesn’t think all cops are rotten. He just thinks that the police are “systemically racist.” A few bad apples!
Biden’s Gettysburg speech is a perfect example of his misleading approach to what, for him, is a losing issue. “I believe in law and order, I’ve never supported defunding the police,” he protests. “I do not believe we have to choose between law and order and racial justice in America. We can have both.” But in the same speech, it’s clear Biden has chosen a side. He makes a perfunctory reference to spontaneous “looting and burning” and then encourages Americans to view police and a vivid (if imagined) “white supremacist” threat as the central problems facing our nation.
Unlike Trump, Biden’s position on law and order is a mess of equivocation, contradiction, and lies. But there is an inner, hidden consistency to it all. If we take Biden at his word, the danger of “white supremacy” isn’t just confined to the Proud Boys, or whatever ring-wing group the media feels like stoking a panic over this week. Trump and all of his supporters are implicated as well. So are the police, who appear to Biden to be more threatening to public safety than the rioters who have terrorized Americans for months, and so is America itself, which contains white supremacy in its very DNA.
It’s hard to imagine a position more hostile to law and order than that, but that is what Biden’s campaign is really all about.