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  17 May 2022, 10:26

Biden's visit to racist massacre site will highlight US extremism

 WASHINGTON, May 17, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - When President Joe Biden visits the

site of a racist massacre in upstate New York on Tuesday, he'll confront not
only the shocking deaths of 10 Black people but warn against an ideology that
"tears at the soul" of the country he promised to unite.

On one level, the trip by Biden and his wife Jill Biden to Buffalo will be a
grimly routine tradition for presidents who for decades have railed against
an unstoppable parade of mass shootings.

Hastily scheduled ahead of Biden's departure Thursday for a major diplomatic
trip to South Korea and Japan, the Buffalo visit will be a chance to "try to
bring some comfort to the community," White House Press Secretary Karine
Jean-Pierre said.

Like all his predecessors to varying degrees, Biden has promised to address
gun control, or rather the lack of gun control. Like them, he has made barely
a dent.

However, what marks out Saturday's horror, in which a white man went to a
heavily African American neighborhood and allegedly opened fire, killing 10
and wounding three, is that the suspect apparently wrote a manifesto
promoting increasingly widely held white supremacist ideas.

At the heart of the manifesto -- which law enforcement believe is genuine --
was a rant about what's dubbed "replacement theory," which purports the
existence of a leftist plot to dilute the white population with non-white
immigrants.

It's a conspiracy theory that, like the bizarre QAnon narrative, has spread
from the furthest fringes of society to surprisingly mainstream areas -- most
notably Tucker Carlson's enormously influential nightly talk show on Fox
News.

Prominent Republican members of Congress have also echoed "replacement
theory" talking points, which in turn are not too distant from Donald Trump's
multiple speeches as president in which he demonized illegal immigrants as
invaders, once calling them "animals."

- No middle ground -

Republican House Representative Liz Cheney -- a former member of the party's
inner circle who has rebelled against the dominant Trump wing -- directly
linked that kind of chatter to the Buffalo bloodshed.

Party leaders have "enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-
Semitism. History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far
worse," she tweeted, demanding that leaders "renounce and reject these views
and those who hold them."

Biden, who says he left retirement to run for president after he heard Trump
refusing to clearly denounce a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville in 2017,
immediately called the Buffalo killings "antithetical to everything we stand
for in America."

The murders were "an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white
nationalist ideology," he said.

On Tuesday, after meeting with survivors and first responders, Biden will
give a speech calling out Saturday's mass shooting "for what it is: terrorism
motivated by a hateful and perverse ideology that tears at the soul of our
nation," a White House official said.

"He'll call on all Americans to give hate no safe harbor, and to reject the
lies of racial animus that radicalize, divide us, and led to the act of
racist violence we saw," the official said.

However, tensions over racism are only one of the forces thwarting Biden's
campaign promise to heal the nation's tattered social fabric.

Culture war disputes have turned everything from Disneyland to parent
meetings at schools into battlegrounds. And after the leaking of Supreme
Court draft ruling that would end a decades-old federal right to abortion,
passions are intensifying.

If the ruling is confirmed, power would pass back to individual state
governments and abortion would effectively be outlawed or at least severely
restricted in swaths of the country.

With demonstrations in favor of abortion rights staged over the weekend and
the issue looming over November's midterm elections, that means plenty more
fuel on the fires Biden vowed to douse.

Now it's a mess that Biden apparently no longer thinks he can clear up.

As the midterms approach, and with Democrats fearing a pounding, the 79-year-
old president has dramatically sharpened his own rhetoric, branding Trump
Republicans "extreme."

He has coined a new label of "ultra-MAGA," referring to Trump's nationalist
Make America Great Again slogan, and ruefully seems to concede that there's
no one left on the other side for him to talk to.

"Ultra-MAGA" forces, he said last week, "have been able to control the
Republican Party. I never anticipated that happening."

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