President Joe Biden marked the 100th anniversary of the Greenwood massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with an address and a public statement on the historical tragedy.
During his remarks, the president included the startling assertion that white supremacy is the greatest terrorist threat to American life today.
“Raided, firebombed, and destroyed”
“Not ISIS, not Al Qaeda,” Biden said. “White supremacists.”
His reference likely stemmed from a recent Department of Homeland Security report that showed “white supremacy extremism accounted for more fatal attacks than any other domestic violent extremist group since 2018.”
As Biden insisted during his remarks this week: “According to the intelligence community, terrorism from white supremacy is the most lethal threat to the homeland today.”
In a White House proclamation recognizing the Tulsa attack that took place a century earlier, the Biden administration doubled down on its position.
“One hundred years ago, a violent white supremacist mob raided, firebombed, and destroyed approximately 35 square blocks of the thriving Black neighborhood of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma,” it began.
“Our laws, our policies, and our hearts”
Of course, the administration’s wording appears to poorly define white supremacy, leaving open the possibility that virtually any heinous act committed by a white person against someone of another race could be chalked up to a racist motivation.
As for the DHS report labeling white supremacy the gravest threat to the nation, it is possible that such an assertion could further fuel the growing belief that systemic racism is a reality that continues to suppress minority races in various facets of American life. Biden’s proclamation took aim at the concept in the context of remembering the 1921 Greenwood massacre.
“We honor the legacy of the Greenwood community, and of Black Wall Street, by reaffirming our commitment to advance racial justice through the whole of our government, and working to root out systemic racism from our laws, our policies, and our hearts,” he said.
Attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, revealed that Islamic terrorism at least has the potential for more indiscriminate violence, though the intelligence community has clearly shifted its focus over the nearly 20 years that have since passed.
The president’s appeal to the Black community might be noble, but perhaps not entirely ingenuous. America’s leaders can condemn and address racism without stoking additional tensions by labeling large swaths of the population “white supremacists.”