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Biden silent as Gaza protesters clash at colleges with police.

Photo : AFP

President Joe Biden has remained conspicuously silent amidst escalating tensions on college campuses where Gaza-related protests have led to clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement. The backdrop of these events has seen Republicans utilizing the unrest as a political cudgel against Democrats, aiming to capitalize on the disorder.

Despite mounting pressure, Biden's last public remark on the matter occurred over a week ago, denouncing "antisemitic protests" and lamenting a lack of understanding regarding the Palestinian situation. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre acknowledged the administration's monitoring of the situation, while also condemning actions such as the forcible takeover of buildings, emphasizing the distinction between free speech and unlawful behavior.

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Biden's historical stance on protests reflects a preference for compromise over fervor. His early career coincided with the tumultuous protests of the late 1960s, yet he distanced himself from the activist ethos, famously remarking, "I’m not big on flak jackets and tie-dyed shirts."

As unrest continues to grip campuses, Republicans have seized upon the opportunity to criticize the administration's handling of the situation. House Speaker Mike Johnson and former President Donald Trump have both lambasted Biden for his perceived inaction, calling for stronger leadership to address the unrest.

However, amidst the political jockeying, there are reminders of past tactics. Kate Berner, former deputy communications director for Biden's 2020 campaign, notes that similar attempts to exploit unrest during protests over George Floyd's murder were largely rebuffed by the public.

Meanwhile, the White House has been reticent to directly intervene, opting instead to defer to the discretion of universities and colleges. Jean-Pierre evaded questions regarding potential disciplinary measures or police intervention, emphasizing that such decisions lie within the purview of educational institutions.

In the midst of this contentious atmosphere, Biden is slated to address the issue firsthand during a visit to Morehouse University on May 19, where he is scheduled to deliver the commencement address.

May 2, 2024 2:28 p.m. 8783

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