OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
There is a video making the rounds online that shows President Joe Biden, who was then a senator, using the N-word two times during a hearing.
It has been gaining traction online because of a similar compilation video of podcaster Joe Rogan using the N-Word several times on his podcast. But in both cases, the clips lack context, which is important.
The same as the video against Rogan, which carefully cuts any context from what he was saying, so does the video of Biden, Mediaite reported.
In the Biden video, the key context is that he was quoting the words of someone else when he said the word two times.
Biden was questioning then-Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights William Reynolds over his nomination — by then-President Ronald Reagan — to be promoted to Associate Attorney General.
Specifically, he was asking Reynolds about his part in pre-clearing a Louisiana redistricting plan that was later struck down in court.
On December 17, 1981, shortly after the adoption of Act 20, the State of Louisiana submitted the plan to the Attorney General of the United States for preclearance as required by § 5 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973c. On June 18, 1982, the Attorney General, through his head of the Civil Rights Section, William Bradford Reynolds, informed the State that he would not object to the plan.
During that hearing on June 5, 1985, Biden pressed the nominee about the case and, in doing so, he quoted a memo in which the word was used.
“As to the Governor, the Court concluded, quote: ‘The Governor’s opposition to the Nunez plan was predicated in significant part on his delineation of a majority black district centered in Orleans Parish,’” he said.
“And in confidential portions of your staff memo, they brought to your attention the allegation that an important legislator in defeating the Nunez plan in the basement said, quote: ‘We already have a n****r mayor; we don’t need another n****r big-shot,’” he said.
If you actually think that finding old clips of someone using the n-word is proof they're a racist, then you would find this 👇 infinitely more alarming and important given that he is kind of more powerful than Joe Rogan. But you don't think that: it's just a game to silence him. pic.twitter.com/xLBjgOsjgw
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) February 5, 2022
The context in this case is critical because simply showing Biden saying the word and not attributing it to how he used it or the fact that these were not his words is disingenuous.
The reason it is important right now is because the same tactic is being used against Rogan and there do not appear to be many people who are defending Biden that want to offer Rogan the same right to have his words heard in context.
“There’s been a lot of s**t from the old episodes of the podcast that I wish I hadn’t said, or had said differently. This is my take on the worst of it,” he said in the caption of an Instagram video.
“There’s a video that’s out. It’s a compilation of me saying the N-word. It’s a video that’s made of clips taken out of context of me, of 12 years of conversations on my podcast, and it’s all smushed together, and it looks fu**ing horrible even to me,” he said in the video.
“Now I know that to most people, there is no context where a white person is ever allowed to say that word. Never mind publicly on a podcast. And I agree with that now. I haven’t said it in years, but for a long time when I would bring that word up, like if you’d come up in conversation and stand instead of saying the N-word, I would just say the word I thought as long as it was in context, people would understand what I was doing. Like that context was part of the clip,” the podcast host said.
He explained some of the context for his comments in the video.
“I was also talking about how there’s not another word like it in the entire English language because it’s a word where only one group of people is allowed to use it. They can use in so many different ways, like if a white person, says that word, it’s racist and toxic. But a Black person can use it, and it can be a punch line, it could be a term of endearment. It could be lyrics to a rap song. It could be a positive affirmation. It’s a very unusual word, but it’s not my word to use. I’m well aware of that now, but for years I used it in that manner,” the host said.