Biden – Busing – Harris: Will Biden Escape His Past? 5 of 6

(continued from Friday)

How does busing stand now that the issue has arisen again during the Democratic debate. Harris when she first went into her attack setting up Biden reminded me of someone saying “I know you don’t beat your wife but when did you stop doing it.”  She said that “I know you’re not a racist” but then accused him of being one by being against busing. She did this based on her assumption that to be against busing black and white kids to and fro is racist because she as a black girl was bused and benefited from it. Does it follow that every black girl who was bused was better off because of it? Does it follow that had she not been bused she would not have managed to achieve the same results?

What made Biden seem defensive and uncomfortable was his acceptance of her premise. Rather than saying he was against busing because he did not think it benefited anyone – to quote him: “White parents were terrified that their children would be shipped to the toughest neighborhoods in Wilmington; black parents were terrified that their children would be targets of violence in suburban schools”  – he  waffled. He differed the busing because of the entity implementing it (federal government vs local city) – he later said he was for voluntary busing which wasn’t the issue on the table. The Berkeley plan did not have many white parents who volunteered to leave their comfortable schools in which they were in the great majority. Six Berkeley schools had over 92% white enrollment.

Biden tried to distinguish the indistinguishable rather than sticking to his long-held beliefs that forced busing was wrong. He could simply have said “yes, Kamala, it was good for you but not so good for many others. That’s why I opposed it and do so today. There are many better ways than busing to achieve the desire end of bringing better education to all students.”

That would be a better position if that is what he really believed. But an article in August 2015 tells a different story about Joe Biden. It flat-out says that Biden was motivated in his opposition to busing because his white constituents did not want their children to go to school with black children.

In the U.S. Senate Biden was up against Ed Brooke, a senator from Massachusetts, the first black senator ever to be popularly elected. Brooke thought at the time: “We had all-black schools and all-white schools, [busing] was the best thing that we had to at least desegregate the schools at that time in our history. And I thought we didn’t have anything better.” He fought to ensure busing would continue.

His main opponent was Joe Biden. Initially Biden sided with Brooke but having done so he was met with “the fury of his white constituents.”  He was jeered by  and angry crowd when he explained his position of being against “de jure” segregation (segregation caused by state action) but not “de facto” (segregation that happened because of individual preferences.) Whether there was an actual difference between them would be a matter of debate

In 1975 Jesse Helms offered an anti-busing amendment which prohibited “the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare from collecting any data about the race of students or teachers.” Biden supported Helms noting: “I have become convinced that busing is a bankrupt concept.” The Helms amendment failed but Biden introduced another one that would have just about the same effect. He would call busing “an asinine policy.”  It passed. Brooke was outraged. He called the vote on Biden’s amendment “the greatest symbolic defeat for civil rights since 1964.”

A bankrupt concept, asinine, and not a useful tool, were Biden’s thoughts about busing. He allegedly believed this because it would place “an undue burden on African-American families and children.”  Who better to understand African-American families than Ed Brooke who fought to save busing. What other remedy did blacks have to get a better chance at a decent education.


3 thoughts on “Biden – Busing – Harris: Will Biden Escape His Past? 5 of 6

  1. the past is prelude: Joe would waffle. His waffling on the Hyde Amendment was pathetic.
    The saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Sadly, Joe has gone soft.

  2. Matt, you have to be careful with what an AUTHOR says JOE BIDEN’S true motive was. Some book author writes: “his (Biden’s) white constituents did not want their children to go to school with black children. ” and that’s why Joe opposed busing, the author alleges.
    I don’t believe Americans felt that way then nor now.
    Americans aren’t bigoted. They’re happy their children get a good education, in public schools, or private schools.
    Parents do not say, “I don’t want my child to go to Harvard, BC, BU or UMass, nor to Boston Latin nor Boston English nor Brookline High nor Needham High nor Newton North High BECAUSE there are minority students in those schools.”
    Parent do say, “I want my child get a good education at a good school.” Parents do say, “I don’t want THE STATE telling me where to send my kids to school.”

    If BC, BU or Harvard is 25% minority students, parents don’t say: “find me a school with no minorities.” If Berklee or the Mass School of Art is 25% minority, parents don’t recoil: “I don’t want my child educated with minorities.” Parents who think that way are atavistic, a rare minority of bigots, not representative of Americans. People who think that way don’t migrate to America, the great melting pot; they stay in Finland.

    Remember, blacks sold blacks into slavery; Arabs were the great slave traders; English and Dutch vessels brought most black slaves to the Americas, 80% of whom did not come to the land of the United States. Remember Irish were slaves, too. Slavery was an institution in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas (Aztecs, Incas, N.A. tribes) up through mid 19th century. The US fought a great Civil War which ended slavery in these United States, and the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to our Constitution tried to lawfully treat all equally, but it wasn’t until Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement that necessary civil rights legislation put us on the right road to equal treatment for all.

    So do not forget that all our forebears were born into a world where Slavery was a lawful institution. We’ve ended that evil institution and ended by law discrimination, and the vast, vast majority of Americans support Martin Luther King’s vision and dream that all men and women will be judged by the content of their character not by the color of their skin.

    Today, I find the worst racists are those who point the finger of “racism” at others, because they are still judging by the color of skin, by ethnicity, by birth.

    You know, some want to tear down statutes to men like President Washington who owned slaves, not understanding the history, the world Washington was bornr into. Some say we should tear down the statues of men who committed adultery, because it is one of the oldest taboos, proscribed in scripture, or perhaps tear down the statutes of President Jimmy Carter, a good Christian man if ever there was one, because he admitted “having lust in his heart.”


    All Americans want to be free . . . .free to express themselves, free to raise their families as they see fit, free to be neighborly . . . .the bigots, the bullies, the power-abusers are few and far between.

  3. Joe Biden waffled on the Hyde amendment and now on busing. What’s he going to do
    when it really gets tough?

Comments are closed.