After having to defend his views on school busing at the first Democratic debate, former Vice President Joe Biden may now have to deal with another issue from his past that is likely to spark controversy.
Biden argued that diversity is not America’s strength in a speech at the National Bank of Auburn’s fourth annual business forecast luncheon, according to the Feb. 17, 1976 edition of The Syracuse Post Standard. Biden was speaking at New York’s Springside Inn.
“We hear time and again that we are uniquely a melting pot. Because we’re black, white, rich and poor, therefore we’re strong,” Biden stated in his speech, according to the newspaper.
“The fact that we are black and white, rich and poor drives us apart in America,” Biden said.
The newspaper noted that Biden was “dissenting” from the notion that diversity makes us strong.
“Who the hell is an American? If you don’t think we’re as different here as Belgium and France, then travel with me a bit. We’re a diverse nation,” Biden said.
According to the Syracuse Post Standard: “He said he doubted if France would change if its government fell, but said the result would be different in the United States, because there is “no ethnic identity” and “we’re a product of our political institutions.'”
This quote contradicts the tenor of the Democrat Party discourse during the 2020 election. Biden has come under fire from his progressive presidential competitors including Kamala Harris for speaking about his past positive relationships with segregationist senators, and for his past opposition to integrated school busing.
That Biden once held the position that diversity is not America’s strength could complicate his ability to reach out to a broad coalition of Democrat voter demographics. Biden also stated his opposition to integrated school busing in the Springside Inn speech.
The Syracuse Post Standard also reported:
“[Biden] cited education as another issue which is quickly becoming polarized. “The issue of busing,” he said, is a “litmus test” by which one is quickly judged.
If, like himself, one opposes busing, he is automatically judged as being against civil liberties, Biden said.
“The educational system in America is reaching the point of bankruptcy, not financially, but intellectually,” he charged.
Noting that government spent 10 times more for education in 1975 as in 1965, he challenged his audience to judge whether today’s graduates receive as adequate an education as those in 1965.
He said the issue should not be “whether to teach sex, conduct exotic research and bus,” but rather whether students are learning to read, write, add and subtract.”