Critics Say Biden’s Mother Emanuel AME Speech Shouldn’t Have Been ‘Allowed’ Over U.S.-Israel Policy

CHARLESTON, SC - JANUARY 8: President Joe Biden delivers remark

President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church on January 8, 2024 in Charleston, S.C.. | Source: The Washington Post / Getty

A wave of criticism on social media has questioned why President Joe Biden was “allowed” to give a speech courting Black voters at the site of a notorious white supremacist massacre while he has also supported the state of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza where thousands of Palestinians, including innocent children, have been killed.

Biden denounced the “poison” of white supremacy during his speech Monday at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where he was interrupted by protesters demanding he push for a ceasefire from the IDF, Israel’s military.

Critics, however, pointed out that the same white supremacy Biden condemned was fueling the “genocide” of Palestinian people by Israel, whose military has long been funded in part by the U.S. government.

Political pundit Symone Sanders took to social media to express her “shock” at protesters interrupting Biden and said she “couldn’t believe” what happened in a hot take that prompted critics to offer their differing points of view.

“11 thousand dead kids is more important than respectability politics pearl clutching,” Briahna Joy Gray, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ former press secretary, responded to Sanders. “No religion is worth respecting that would prioritize calls to end a genocide over political remarks from the guy who’s backing it.”

Margaret Kimberley, the Executive Editor and Senior Columnist of Black Agenda Report, referred to Biden as a “war criminal” for his support of Israel.

“The church is hallowed ground, and a war criminal shouldn’t be allowed in a pulpit,” Kimberley responded to Sanders. “If Biden wants to go to church he can sit in the pews, pray silently, and ask forgiveness for his acts of genocide. This church should pray about letting themselves be used by criminal Biden.”

Biden, for his part, didn’t skip a beat as the protesters briefly paused his speech from the same place where avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof in 2015 attended bible study at Mother Emanuel AME Church before launching his hate-filled killing spree in hopes of sparking a “race war.” He killed nine parishioners who welcomed him into their sacred space.

“If you really care about the lives lost here… you should call for a ceasefire in Palestine,” one person yelled from the pews as Biden spoke amid chants of “ceasefire now.”

Biden tried to assure the protectors that he has “been quietly working with the Israeli government to get them to reduce and significantly get out of Gaza.”

But the larger point among critics on social media was that Biden can’t simultaneously call out white supremacy in the U.S. while also supporting Israel and vis a vis its state-sanctioned killing of ethnic minorities in Palestine.

Speaking as an AME whose mother was ordained in Mother Emanuel:  If it was hallowed ground then Joe Biden, who lends financial and moral support to the genocide of Palestinians, should never have been speaking there to begin with,” one social post wrote to Sanders. “His presence was the desecration.”

Others suggested to Sanders that there was hypocrisy at play with Biden speaking at Mother Emanuel AME.

“Denmark Vesey, one of the founders of the church, plotted a slave revolt and was killed as a result of this. To my mind, having a white man at the pulpit who gave billions of dollars to the police and a country perpetrating genocide is the real obscenity,” one person wrote.

Another person was much more blunt in their assessment of Symone Sanders’ reaction: “yall invited a segregationist to speak in the church where a neo nazi shot your elders to death but protesting a genocide is where u draw the line.”

One of the ironies of Biden’s visit to Mother Emanuel AME is the fact that he was trying to shore up his hemorrhaging support among Black voters as data shows that young Black voters, in particular, are the ones demanding more from the president’s administration when it comes to protecting the Palestinian people.

Biden’s presence at the church could backfire as polling shows Black voters are increasingly supporting third-party candidates as they have no interest in reelecting the president or electing Donald Trump.


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