Joe Biden's Must-Read Op-Ed On The Battle He Says Is Brewing For America's Soul

"Those with the courage to oppose hate far outnumber those who promote it."

The violent and hateful events at a White nationalist rally in Charlottesville earlier this month have drawn harsh responses from current and former politicians alike. Former president Barack Obama's tweet quoting Nelson Mandela, for example, broke a Twitter record for most likes.

Former vice president Joe Biden also received plenty of social media attention for his own response to the rally. "No. Not in America. We must be stronger, more determined and more united than ever. Racism and hate have no place here," he wrote on Twitter at the time, later adding, "There is only one side."


On Sunday, Biden once again took aim at the idea that "both sides" were culpable — this time in an op-ed for The Atlantic. The former veep doesn't mince words when addressing those involved in Charlottesville and other recent far-right activities, but he also shares his belief in Americans' ability to challenge hate.

Biden begins his piece by describing how he felt on the day of Obama's inauguration in 2009. While awaiting a train in his hometown of Wilmington, Del., he was reminded of the riots that occurred in the city following Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination in 1968.

"I was living history — and reliving it — at the same time," he writes. "And the images racing through my mind were a vivid demonstration that when it comes to race in America, hope doesn't travel alone. It's shadowed by a long trail of violence and hate."

Obama and Biden in 2010. White House Photo by Pete Souza.

That trail, Biden writes, "emerged once again into plain view" in Charlottesville this month. "If it wasn't clear before, it's clear now: We are living through a battle for the soul of this nation."

Biden also shares a powerful call to action for Americans to respond differently to the bigotry on display in Charlottesville and around the country.

This is a moment for this nation to declare what the president can't with any clarity, consistency, or conviction: There is no place for these hate groups in America. Hatred of blacks, Jews, immigrants—all who are seen as "the other"—won't be accepted or tolerated or given safe harbor anywhere in this nation.

He goes on to praise the CEOs, community leaders, charitable organizations, and counter-protesters who have done just what he describes, and imparts a hopeful message inspired by the tens of thousands of people who recently challenged a recent far-right rally in Boston: "Those with the courage to oppose hate far outnumber those who promote it."

"Joined together, we are more than 300 million strong," Biden ends the piece. "Joined together, we will win this battle for our soul. Because if there's one thing I know about the American people, it's this: When it has mattered most, they have never let this nation down."

It's not the first time Biden has spoken up about the issue of race in America. In June, he revisited the Wilmington pool where he worked as the only White lifeguard in 1962, an experience he says taught him about the harsh realities of segregation. "Every day, it seemed to be, black people got subtle and not-so-subtle reminders that they didn't quite belong in America," Biden wrote in his autobiography. "It was a dozen small cuts a day."

You can read Joe Biden's full op-ed at The Atlantic.

Cover image via the U.S. State Department / William Ng.


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