Former Vice President — and presumptive 2020 presidential nominee — Joe Biden has weighed in on the ongoing unrest in Portland, Oregon — but perhaps not the way many leftists expected.
Although the statement largely condemns President Donald Trump for his response to the protests — and suggests that the Obama administration was able to quell riots without turning “the Department of Homeland Security into a private militia” — Biden also, unlike many Democrats, goes out of his way to condemn “arsonists and anarchists” undermining the purpose of ongoing anti-racism demonstrations.
Full @JoeBiden response calling for "arsonists and anarchists" to be prosecuted for the violence/destruction occurring at some protests. Says Trump is "stoking division and chaos" because "his campaign is failing and he is looking for a political lifeline." pic.twitter.com/D3ScPq1Y9x
— Bo Erickson CBS (@BoKnowsNews) July 28, 2020
“I have said from the outset of recent protests that there is no place for violence and destruction of property,” Biden’s statement says. “Peaceful protestors should be protected and arsonists and anarchists should be prosecuted.”
The statement does not mention Portland’s issues specifically, so it does appear that Biden is calling for the blanket arrest of “anarchists,” even though it’s clear the former vice president is referring to those individuals in places like Portland, Oregon, who are shooting fireworks at a federal building, using larger, more peaceful protests as cover.
The statement, ostensibly issued as a knock on Trump, ended up blowing back at Joe Biden as leftists — and even some key progressive leaders who should be backing Biden for president in November — condemned Biden’s statement.
“Joe Biden just issued a statement calling for the arrest of anarchists, simply for BEING anarchists, which is very explicitly not illegal,” wrote one progressive state candidate on Twitter. “It should also be noted that Biden and Trump have now joined together in openly calling for the political persecution of the same people.”
Portland’s branch of Democratic Socialists of America also weighed in.
“We condemn this statement from Joe Biden in which he criminalizes a political ideology that is based on cooperation and mutual care. Anarchists are valued members of our big tent organization. This is a dangerous statement that threatens everyone’s political speech,” they said.
Even MSNBC’s Chris Hayes got involved.
“‘Anarchist’ is not some free-floating category of criminal,” he wrote. “It’s perfectly legal to be an anarchist, as protected by the First Amendment and it’s a gross violation of the spirit of liberty to imply otherwise. People’s ideology do not make them criminals.”
Even Antifa itself got involved, tweeting, “no good cops, no bad protesters.”
Fortunately for Joe Biden, “anarchists” don’t seem to account for a large voter bloc. The reaction does, however, underscore one of President Donald Trump’s key criticisms of Joe Biden — that, ultimately, he’ll be beholden to interests that are far further left.
“No one believes that Joe Biden is a dangerous radical,” writes William Galston in
The Wall Street Journal. “But the president and his advisers charge that Mr. Biden will be a tool of leftists because he is beholden to them and too befuddled to stand up to them. The former vice president needs to show that this is not the case.”
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