Cornel West Tells Biden To Get Off His ‘Symbolic Crack Pipe’ Or Lose Black Voters To Trump

Written by Dana Sanchez
symbolic crack pipe
Dr. Cornel West speaks at the Conference on the State of the African-American Professoriate hosted in 2002. AP Photo/Rich Schultz

Former Vice President Joe Biden has given Donald Trump a clear opening in the upcoming election, according to Harvard philosophy Professor Cornel West.

The Democratic presidential frontrunner will lose Black voters if he doesn’t “get off his symbolic crack pipe” and stop defending the 1994 crime law that he authored — the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act — West told the Washington Examiner.

Biden defended the 25-year-old tough-on-crime legislation this month, saying it “did not generate mass incarceration.”

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On Monday, Trump criticized Biden in a tweet for his involvement in passing the law:

“Anyone associated with the 1994 Crime Bill will not have a chance of being elected. In particular, African Americans will not be able to vote for you,” Trump tweeted. “I, on the other hand, was responsible for Criminal Justice Reform, which had tremendous support, and helped fix the bad 1994 Bill!

In a second tweet, Trump resurrected and weaponized a term originally used by Democrats to try and get support for the bill: “Super Predator was the term associated with the 1994 Crime Bill that Sleepy Joe Biden was so heavily involved in passing,” Trump tweeted. “That was a dark period in American History, but has Sleepy Joe apologized? No!”

Biden needs to take responsibility and stop denying his record on crime, according to West. He “should be ashamed of himself” for using the word “predator” when trying to get support for the bill before it passed, West said. West encouraged the former vice president to apologize, saying it’s a matter of life or death.

“I hope and pray he is unable to do it. But if Trump comes out strong on criminal justice reform, he is going to get a slice of the Black vote, because this is life or death,” West told The Washington Examiner. “I think Biden is going to have to take responsibility and acknowledge the contribution he made to something that was not a force for good.”

Critics of the violent Crime Act say it disproportionately affected minorities and generated mass incarceration. Biden played a central role in getting it passed and former President Bill Clinton apologized in 2015 for signing it into law, saying he “made the problem worse,” Politico reported.

Other 2020 Democratic contenders including Sen. Kamala Harris and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio have described Biden’s work on the bill “a huge mistake”.

“We all make mistakes, but this was major, major bad judgment. And we have to tell the truth,” West said. “That Joe Biden was one of the architects, or core architects, is going to haunt him in a very serious way. When he says it didn’t contribute to mass incarceration, I tell him he has to get off his symbolic crack pipe.”

West supports Democratic socialist candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the 2020 race. “My fundamental advice to Biden is to pull out of the race and pull into the port of Bernie,” he told The Washington Examiner.