Biden’s offensive statement about blacks wasn’t the worst thing he said

Joe Biden took a lot of flak on Friday for saying on The Breakfast Club, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” However, bad as that line was, Biden said a lot of other things that were just as bad as his condescending, tone-deaf attempt at a “no true Scotsman” joke.

The Breakfast Club is a popular progressive morning show that is carried on 45 affiliate stations, while the YouTube channel boasts 4.41 million subscribers. To date, just the YouTube version of Biden’s May 22 interview with "Charlamagne tha God" has had over 700,000 views. This is a show with reach, and it allowed Biden to talk directly to a young black audience.

What Biden was pitching to the audience is that he’s been a black advocate since practically the day he stepped out of law school in the late 1960s. To that end, he used the Wuhan Virus to play the race card against Trump and then settled into his shtick about how he’s always acted in the best interests of American blacks. Little that he said supports this claim.

Biden began by boasting, “I’m ahead in all the national polls,” only to have Charlamagne point out the 2016 polling failures. Biden’s non sequitur response was that 2016 was “totally different” because “you had somebody who didn’t, they didn’t know” Trump, meaning that Trump “had no serious opposition that turned out to materialize.” I mention this short Biden argument as a reminder that even though Biden talks a lot, he often doesn’t say anything.

Next, Biden claimed he was ahead of the curve on initiatives that would have stemmed deaths from the Wuhan Virus. Biden ignores that, from January 22 through February 27, he opposed effective Trump’s actions, going so far as to accuse Trump of “hysteria and xenophobia” for blocking flights from China. Biden also ignores that federalism meant that it was the states, not Trump, that had to act.

Biden asserts that, on January 27, he published an article with policies that would have saved American lives. That’s incorrect. The article compared the Wuhan Virus, a disease breaking out of one of the world’s largest nations, to Ebola, a geographically-confined West African outbreak, and demanded that Trump cooperate with the international community (i.e., send money). And, of course, “science!”

None of the article’s arguments and vague recommendations would have changed things. It wasn’t until mid-March that Biden finally released his “plan.” This plan, when it didn’t advocate things Trump had already done, mostly said, “I have a plan to have a plan.”

In a move worthy of all demagogues, Biden implies that Trump’s policies are killing blacks who are indeed more vulnerable to the Wuhan Virus. Biden ignores that those blacks who are dying mostly live in Democrat-governed regions and, worse, in densely packed urban areas. Whether on the subway or in old age homes, those governors are killing blacks. Biden also ignores that blacks have more risk factors (e.g., obesity, Type II diabetes), and less Vitamin D.

Jumping to the economy, Biden promises that, unlike Trump, he will give blacks the economy of their dreams, one free from “institutional racism.” He implies that there will be a Green jobs program. Charlamagne fails to ask Biden why blacks didn’t get that economy during Obama’s and Biden’s eight-year run.

What Charlamagne does ask about is black incarceration, with a focus on Biden’s 1994 crime bill. That elicits a cascade of words from Biden saying he had nothing to do with increased drug sentences or three strikes. What he pushed, he says, was mandatory sentencing guidelines that were supposed to erase racial differences in sentences. Who knew the guidelines would send small drug dealers to prison for long terms?

There isn’t space here to detail the many problems with the crime bill and its effect on blacks. The Huffington Post does an excellent job.

Both Charlamagne and Biden politely ignore Biden’s strong friendships with segregationists, including Strom Thurmond, or his statement in 1981 that “sometimes even George Wallace is right.” (Biden’s argument in 1981 wasn’t awful, although it was incoherent -- but citing Wallace? Bad look.)

It’s at the end of this cascade of words, a mixture of fact, fiction, and puffery, that Biden throws in the much-quoted remark that “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” It’s evident from the context and his clownish grin that Biden’s trying to make a joke. However, just as only blacks can refer to each other with racist words, no white person should ever attempt a joke like that. (Nor should a white person ever say, “They’re gonna put y’all back in chains,” as Biden did.)

From Biden’s mouth, the words are racist, condescending, patronizing, and generally awful. That’s why they make a great sound byte. Maybe, though, we should worry more that Biden spun a web of lies to millions of young blacks who don’t know Biden’s history or that his policies, whether social, economic, or criminal, harmed blacks rather than helped them.