Former Vice President Joe Biden once praised a group that liberals have described as a “neo-Confederate” organization as consisting of “fine people,” in a video shared Sunday by President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
The video is from a 1993 Senate hearing during the Supreme Court confirmation process for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As the Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavedra pointed out, then-Senator Biden made the comments about the United Daughters of the Confederacy in response to remarks from by one of his colleagues in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
At the time, Biden said:
I, too, heard that speech and, for the public listening to this, the Senator made a very moving and eloquent speech, as a son of the Confederacy, acknowledging that it was time to change and yield to a position that Senator Carol Moseley-Braun raised on the Senate floor, not granting a Federal charter to an organization made up of many fine people who continue to display the Confederate flag as a symbol.
Critics of the former vice president were quick to accuse Biden of hypocrisy since he launched his campaign attacking President Trump for his “very fine people on both sides” comments during the 2017 Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally.
A problem for Biden with progressives
Biden’s praise for the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1993 could certainly create problems for his presidential campaign among the Democratic Party’s progressive base.
On its website, the UDC describes itself as an organization dedicating to “honoring the memory of its confederate ancestors.” In December the group issued a press release defending Confederate monuments—of which, they have sponsored 450—arguing “they simply represent a memorial to our forefathers who fought bravely during” the Civil War.
Although the UDC says it “denounces any individual or group that promotes racial divisiveness or white supremacy,” the organization has been a frequent target of the left over the years.
“Neo-Confederacy” refers to a reactionary, revisionist predilection for symbols of the Confederate States of America (CSA), typically paired with a strong belief in the validity of the failed doctrines of nullification and secession — in the specific context of the antebellum South — which rose to prominence in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
The group has alleged ties to the Klan
Further complicating matters for Biden is that it was public knowledge that the UDC had strong ties to the Ku Klux Klan at the time that he praised its members.
As the Daily Beast noted last year, the organization erected a monument to the KKK outside of Charlotte in the 1920s. “The UDC always had ties to the Klan,” Heidi Christensen, a former president of the Seattle UDC chapter, said the publication.
“But the connection became more overt in the 1910s. You’ve got “Birth of a Nation,” and then the second rising of the Klan, and you see [the UDC] openly revering the KKK and defending them as saviors of the white southern race during Reconstruction,” she added. “Those things made it clear they were loyal to the Klan and saw them as heroes. And in some ways [the UDC was] sort of like the KKK’s more feminine, genteel sister organization.”
This is also not the first time the presidential candidate has been blasted for similar comments. In June, Biden reminisced of “civility” in the Senate while invoking his interactions with two southern Democratic lawmakers who opposed desegregation efforts.