According to Mediaite, President Joe Biden, known for referencing the Charlottesville incident as a motivating force for his 2020 presidential run, evoked the memory of that tragic event as he delivered a poignant speech on hate and the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. Speaking at the 2023 Human Rights Campaign National Dinner in Washington, DC, Biden’s address was momentarily interrupted by a woman demanding a ceasefire in Gaza. The president, undeterred, concluded his remarks by drawing a poignant parallel between the situation in Israel and the broader battle against hatred.
Biden’s speech was characterized by a deeply personal touch, as he recounted the profound pain of families affected by the conflict in Israel, emphasizing the indiscriminate loss of innocent lives, including those of American citizens. Describing the horrors faced by those whose loved ones remain unaccounted for, he drew a heartbreaking comparison to his own personal tragedy, recalling the heart-wrenching moments when he received the devastating news of his family members’ accident years ago.
The president highlighted the insidious nature of hate, underscoring how it can lie dormant, only to resurface when conditions are conducive, much like the resurgence of hate witnessed in the wake of the Charlottesville incident. Biden, drawing from his experiences in the civil rights movement, emphasized the persistence of hate, underscoring the need to confront it in all its forms, whether it be anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, or transphobia. He stressed the interconnectedness of these forms of hate, warning that unaddressed hostility toward one group often paves the way for prejudice against others.
A week ago we saw hate manifested another way in the worst massacre of Jewish people since the Holocaust. More than 1,300 innocent lives lost in Israel, including at least 27 Americans, children and grandparents alike kidnaped held hostage by Hamas.
The humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Innocent Palestinian families, and a vast majority have nothing to do with Hamas. They’re being used as human shields. Yesterday, I spoke for over an hour, the family members of those Americans who are still unaccounted for. On a Zoom call.
They’ve endured the agony of not knowing what’s happened. Not the same thing, but I can tell you what it’s like. It’s one thing to lose someone you know you’re going to lose and be there with them and hold their hands like I was able to do with my son.
It’s a very other thing to get a phone call I got years ago saying there’s been an accident. Your wife and daughter are dead. I’m not sure your boys are going to make it. The uncertainty. Those two or three hours trying to get back to find out. It’s the worst feeling in the world. It’s gut-wrenching.
And it’s yet another reminder that hate never goes away. It only hides and hides under the rocks. I thought being so deeply involved in the civil rights movement when I was able to convince all people Strom Thurmond to vote for the Voting Rights Act in his last year changed his mind, I thought, Well, you can defeat hate.
But guess what happened? Hate just hides under the rocks until there’s a little oxygen blowing under like happened, what happened in Charlottesville. Just a little bit. And it comes roaring out again.
Folks, we have to reject hate in every form because history has taught us again and again anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia. They’re all connected. Hate toward one group left unanswered opens the door for more hate toward more groups more often readily! But here’s the way history shows The antidote to hate is love! The answer to twisted, dehumanizing ideology is solidarity and standing up for everyone in humanity!
Biden offered a powerful message of unity and compassion as the antidote to hatred, advocating for solidarity and a collective stance in defense of all humanity. By espousing the values of love and solidarity, the president underlined the significance of fostering a society that actively champions inclusivity and empathy, ultimately striving to create a world where the darkness of hate can find no refuge.