Home/Rod Dreher/Biden Whispers The Riot Act, Sort Of

Biden Whispers The Riot Act, Sort Of

Joe Biden strikes back at Trump yesterday in speech on violence (CBS News screenshot)

Joe Biden gave a speech addressing the riots and the fear of insecurity many Americans have. I couldn’t find a clip of his entire speech online, only highlights. Politico captured the highlights from the transcript here. 

Biden said:

“I want to be clear about this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. None of this is protesting — it’s lawlessness — plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”

OK, fair enough. Then:

“He may believe mouthing the words law and order makes him strong, but his failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting as an armed militia in this country shows you how weak he is.”

Wait — where is this happening? OK, it’s a big country, and I’m sure it’s happening somewhere. But are pro-Trump militias threatening the peace? Are they burning down buildings, looting stores, spraying graffiti all over? This is a false equivalence.

More:

“You know me. You know my heart, and you know my story, my family’s story. Ask yourself: Do I look to you like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”

Of course not. Joe Biden himself is not much to worry about. It’s who marches into the government behind Biden that has people afraid, and understandably so.

More:

“He keeps telling you if only he was president it wouldn’t happen. He keeps telling us if he was president you would feel safe. Well — he is president. And it is happening. And you don’t. And it’s getting worse. And we know why. Because Donald Trump adds fuel to every fire.”

That’s not entirely unfair. Trump is not a peacemaker. But you’d have to be nuts to believe that Trump is the prime catalyst for this rioting. Ted Wheeler, the dopey mayor of Portland, under whose watch the city has had over three straight months of nightly antifa violence, gave a speech this week in which he blamed it all on Trump, whose help with federal forces to restore order Wheeler keeps refusing. Wheeler’s line might work on people deep inside the progressive bunker, but ordinary people can see that however bad Trump might be at stopping the violence, he didn’t start it, and he’s very far from the main reason that it’s still going.

Last night, Tucker Carlson delivered straight fire on the Biden speech. Here’s a link to part one:

Tucker’s main point — and I find it indisputable — is that voters know perfectly well that the riots are not a “both sides do it” thing, and they know perfectly well that its not Trump supporters who were out pulling statues down. Et cetera.

Many people won’t take Tucker Carlson seriously. OK, then how about Bret Stephens, the Never Trump NYT columnist who is for Biden. In his column today, he warns Democrats that they aren’t taking the violence seriously enough — and that Biden’s speech is not enough. He starts by writing about that nutrageous NPR interview with the transgendered author whose book is a defense of rioting. That ridiculous piece was almost comical proof of how far down the left-wing well NPR is. Stephens dismissed the seriousness of the book as a work of analysis and advocacy, but notes that it is politically potent — in ways that would cause the NPR management fits:

Nonetheless, the book is symbolically important. I became aware of it when several friends separately forwarded to me the NPR interview. Many of these friends, I suspect, will reluctantly vote for Trump — not out of sympathy for him, but out of disgust with defenses of looting and other things they see too often on the left.

What else are they seeing? A CNN chyron from a burning Kenosha: “Fiery but mostly peaceful protests after police shooting.” A video of an outdoor diner at a Washington, D.C., restaurant being yelled at by Black Lives Matter protesters because she won’t raise a fist in solidarity. Republican Senator Rand Paul and his wife getting harassed by a swarm of protesters as they left the White House.

And more: Trump being mocked in 2017 for warning that if statues of Robert E. Lee come down, then George Washington and Thomas Jefferson statues will be next — and then radical demonstrators doing exactly that three years later. Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York scolding Orthodox Jews in April for appearing to flout social distancing rules at a Brooklyn funeral, but then making an exception for Black Lives Matter demonstrations a few months later. Seattle’s mayor, Jenny Durkan, celebrating a “summer of love” in the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” and then watching the area descend, with depressing predictability, into violent anarchy.

Yes, yes, yes. The money graf:

The list could be longer, but the question it leaves in the minds of wavering voters is exactly the question Trump most wants asked: Can the left be trusted with power?

Read it all.

Judging by the way Democratic mayors and governors have been handling the ongoing crisis, the answer is no. Besides, the idea that antifa is going to sit down and be brought by Team Biden to see reason and stand down is risible. They’re anarchists; this is what they do.

In my own little bubble, I have been surprised this past week by how many Republican friends I have who had planned either to sit the presidential election out, out of disgust with Trump, or were thinking about voting Biden — but who have said to me that they’re all in for Trump now. Kenosha was what flipped them. I’m not exactly sure why, but my sense is that there is a sense of, “If it can happen in Kenosha, it can happen here too.”

Honestly, though, I’m not sure what Joe Biden can do. The Democratic Party has so thoroughly associated itself with Black Lives Matter — which, fair or not, has become inextricable from the rioting and looting — that Biden cannot help but sound insincere.

And there’s this:

In fact, Harris was not talking about “riots”; she was talking about “protests” — though in the minds of very many voters, I’d wager, this is a distinction without a difference. And even if you take her in the sense that she meant it — protests, not riots — how many voters are going to be pleased with the idea of these protests continuing indefinitely, with the support and encouragement of the woke new administration?

As tired as a lot of us are of Donald Trump, the idea of four years of wokeness in power is also exhausting. Nobody really thinks Joe Biden is a radical. They think he’s a front man for radicals.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

leave a comment

Latest Articles