President Joe Biden urged Americans on Thursday to rally together and defeat the “darkness,” represented by “political extremism,” climate change, and racial injustice.
Biden, who campaigned for the White House last year on a platform of restoring the nation’s soul, delivered the call while speaking virtually to the National Prayer Breakfast. In his remarks, the president focused heavily on the turmoil and crises that have wracked the United States in the past two years.
“I have attended many of these prayer breakfasts over the years with a nation at war and struggle and strife, a nation at peace and prosperity,” Biden said. “But a nation though always in prayer.”
The president proceeded to argue that although the country had faced difficult points in the past, “this time [was] different.” Biden claimed, in particular, that the public health and economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak had only underscored the longstanding issues surrounding racial justice and climate change.
“We know the dream, but more importantly the reality of justice for all cannot be deferred any longer,” the president said. “We see the existential threat of climate crisis. … We just have to open our eyes.”
While the nation was already burdened by such problems, Biden asserted, it now also had to contend with the political unrest exhibited at the United States Capitol last month.
“We’ve witnessed images we’ve never imagined,” the president said. “A violent assault of the U.S. Capitol, democracy, and a violent threat that took lives.”
“We must defeat political extremism, white supremacy, and domestic terrorism,” Biden added. “For so many in our nation, this is a dark, dark time. So where do we turn? Faith.”
Asserting that “faith shows the way forward as one nation in a common purpose,” the president urged those listening to his speech to shun partisan divides.
“These aren’t Democrats or Republicans going without health care—they are our fellow Americans,” Biden said. “Fellow human beings.”
“This is not a nation that can, or will, simply stand by and watch this,” he added. “It is not who we are.”
Biden’s remarks to the National Prayer Breakfast come as his administration has launched a comprehensive effort to combat domestic extremism. The White House has stated that such initiatives are required given that “the January 6th assault on the Capitol … underscored … [that] the rise of domestic violent extremism is a serious and growing national security threat.”
As part of the effort, Biden has ordered his newly installed director of national intelligence to undertake an enhanced assessment of the threats posed by “domestic violent extremism.” Biden has also suggested that that task, in part, will require Americans to address disinformation, specifically the “lies told for power and for profit.”
On Tuesday, the New York Times proposed the White House should consider appointing a federal “reality czar” that can lead a “cross-agency task force to tackle disinformation and domestic extremism.”
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