Psaki challenged on whether Biden ‘acknowledges his own role in systemic racism’ in America

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki snapped during a briefing Wednesday when a reporter began pressing her about President Joe Biden’s own culpability in the so-called “systemic racism” that allegedly plagues America.

The back-and-forth exchange began with Steve Nelson of the New York Post contrasting Biden’s racially charged rhetoric about the verdict in the George Floyd/Derek Chauvin case to his own actions.

“President Biden yesterday, responding to the George Floyd case verdict, said that George Floyd’s death, ‘ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism in the United States.’ But he’s an architect of multiple federal laws in the 1980s and ’90s that disproportionately jailed black people and contributed to what many people see as systemic racism,” Nelson said.

“Activist Cornell West said that Biden was one of the core architects of mass incarceration. And that quote, ‘I think Biden is going to have to take responsibility and acknowledge the contribution he made to mass incarceration.’ To what extent does President Biden acknowledge his own role in systemic racism? And how does that inform his current policy positions?”

At first Psaki played along.

Listen:

“Well, I would say that one of the president’s core objectives is addressing racial injustice in this country not just through his rhetoric, but through his actions,” she said.

“And what anyone should look to is his advocacy for passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, for nominating leaders to the Department of Justice to address long-outdated policies,” Psaki added, “and to ask his leadership team here in the White House to prioritize these issues in his presidency, which is current and today and not from 30 years ago.”

Notice what she said at the end. About 30 years ago in 1994, then-Sen. Biden spearheaded the drafting and passage of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, a bill that triggered the mass incarceration of minorities for non-violent drug crimes.

Continuing his line of questioning, Nelson then tried to narrow the focus of his inquiry by, it would appear, referencing Biden’s advocacy for the 1990s crime bill.

Does he believe it’s important to accept his own culpability in setting up a system …,” the New York Post reporter began.

It’s presumed that, had he been allowed to finish his question, it would have gone like this: “setting up a system where minorities were incarcerated en masse for non-violent drug crimes?”

But he wasn’t allowed to finish, because Psaki abruptly cut him off and said, “I think I’ve answered your question!

Had she, though?

One particularly disastrous provision in the president’s 1994 crime bill led to far tougher punishments being applied to crack cocaine users/dealers than powder cocaine users/dealers, according to Reason magazine.

“Under the 1986 law, possessing five grams of crack with intent to distribute it triggered the same five-year mandatory minimum sentence as 500 grams of cocaine powder; likewise, the 10-year mandatory minimum required five kilograms of cocaine powder but only 50 grams of crack,” Reason notes.

This is notable because crack cocaine offenders tended to be black, whereas cocaine powder offenders tended to be black.

Thus, Biden’s crime bill wound up making it so that “darker-skinned defendants received substantially heavier penalties than lighter-skinned defendants for essentially the same offenses,” according to the libertarian magazine.

Biden’s own son Hunter is a no different. He preferred crack cocaine just like black crack cocaine users. But unlike them, he was never unfairly punished for his bad habit:

It wasn’t until 2010 that this particular policy was finally rolled back via the Fair Sentencing Act. Another eight years later, then-Republican President Donald Trump, a man whom Biden has repeatedly denigrated as a “racist,” took a step further by making the 2010 policy decision retroactive via the First Step Act.

“The biggest immediate impact of the bill would be felt by nearly 2,600 federal prisoners convicted of crack offenses before 2010. That’s the year Congress, in the so-called Fair Sentencing Act, reduced the huge disparity in punishment between crack cocaine and the powdered form of the drug. The First Step Act would make the reform retroactive,” as reported by The Marshall Project days before the First Step Act’s signing.

“Those eligible would still have to petition for release and go before a judge in a process that also involves input from prosecutors. With crack’s prevalence in many black neighborhoods in the 1980s, the crack penalty hit African Americans much harder than white powder cocaine users. That disparity has been a major example of the racial imbalance in the criminal justice system.”

It’s a disparity that was created by the very same man who now spends his days lecturing Americans about their own alleged racism.

He’s also the same man whose press secretary would rather snap at reporters than open up and be honest about her boss’s own apparent racism.

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Vivek Saxena

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