The latest blunder by presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is a disturbing one. During roundtable discussion in Philadelphia, Joe Biden claimed that “even Dr. King’s assassination did not have the worldwide impact that George Floyd’s death did.”
He elaborated, “just like television changed the civil rights movement for the better when they saw Bull Connor’s dogs ripping the clothes off of elderly black women going to church, and firehoses ripping the skin off of young kids — that, all those folks around the country who didn’t have any black populations heard about this but they didn’t believe it — but they saw it.”
Biden is, as usual, completely wrong. The death of MLK caused outrage across the country and evolved in widespread unrest. The days between MLK’s death on April 4th and Easter Sunday on April 14th were filled with rioting and protesting dubbed “The Holy Week Uprising.” Author Peter Levy wrote in “The Great Uprising: Race Riots in Urban America during the 1960s“: “During Holy Week 1968, the United States experienced its greatest wave of social unrest since the Civil War.”
Further, it has been reported that 54 U.S. cities experienced at least $100,000 in property damage, with Washington DC reporting $15 million in damages. To stop the riots the U.S. had to deploy “58,000 National Guardsmen and Army troops to assist law enforcement officers.” The unrest caused by the death of the most notable civil rights activist in history is unrivaled by the death of a career criminal.
In terms of long lasting impacts, King’s legacy brought far more positive change as well. In the wake of MLK’s assassination, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed The Fair Housing Act of 1968, marking a key step forward in the civil rights movement. So far no legislation has been signed in response to Floyd’s death—aside from the misguided radical movement to defund the police.
The presence and preaching of MLK lives on through today. In fact, MLK globally popularized the peaceful protesting strategies used by those protesting George Floyd’s death. It is no question that Biden is completely wrong.
Biden finishes his thoughts with “so my point is that I think people are really realizing that this is a battle for the soul of America. Who are we? What do we want to be? How do we see ourselves? What do we think we should be? Character is on the ballot here. That’s what this is about.” Its good to hear Biden admit his concern extends only to his presidential campaign. If character is important perhaps you shouldn’t omit history for the sake of your political propaganda.
The slip ups made by Biden are common and often hilarious, but this is neither. Biden’s comment diminishes the legacy of a lifelong advocate for peace and progress. It’s as shameful as it is poorly thought out.