No, Joe Biden Does Not Support Genocide
Solidarity with innocent lives doesn't require saying things that aren't true
If the left of center was already polarized between reflexive Biden supporters and critics, the war between Israel and Hamas has, as a tertiary consequence, riven the liberals and progressives in between.
As a charter member of that shrinking middle, I put my cards on the table here Monday: Under an unforgiving set of circumstances, I think Biden’s done pretty well. I can’t articulate a course of action he could have taken and sustained that would’ve been obviously better. At the same time, I worry his efforts will become much harder to support if Israel ultimately blows him off and his policy remains unchanged.
So I want to speak here mostly to other people who are horrified by Israel’s campaign in Gaza, but (thus) feel as though Biden is morally impelled to use a firmer hand.
My basic plea is: don’t get seduced by the temptation, or succumb to pressure, to condemn him eternally as an architect or supporter of atrocity, as though he were a 21st century Kissinger. Don’t be overly swayed by what are essentially factional memes—search Twitter for ”Genocide Joe,” if you’d like—devised to condemn anyone who doesn’t here and now deem Biden beyond redemption.
My sense is that, to this point at least, a harder-line approach would not have worked. It would not have resulted in a ceasefire, or termination of U.S. military aid to Israel, neither of which Biden can control unilaterally.
That’s just one man’s view; I’m no special expert and can’t know with certainty how an alternate approach on an alternate timeline would’ve played out. But this much is clearer: Joe Biden does not support genocide, and has not revealed a tolerance for genocide by reaffirming the U.S. alliance with Israel, because Israel is not perpetrating a genocide. Claiming otherwise isn’t a necessary or wise way to prosecute what are otherwise perfectly reasonable misgivings with Biden over his Middle East policy (or anything else for that matter).
The people driving this trend aren’t involved in the same project as I am, and probably won’t listen. But they have a draw on others in this middle terrain who are genuinely anguished. And I think it’s worth impressing on them how wrongheaded and counterproductive it is to throw in their lot with anyone trying cynically to sort the American left of center in to pro- and anti-genocide camps.
I’m trying to tread lightly because I realize this issue divides members of an already fractious coalition diametrically. And I understand: the people bandying the word genocide about cavalierly aren’t all manipulative cynics or lemmings. Many are understandably distressed and believe using maximally urgent language is the most effective form of activism.
But they are making a mistake.
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