Fact Check

Does Video Show Biden Promoting an Agenda To Make ‘White Americans’ the Minority Population?

A clip taken out of context was used by white supremacists to spread their “great replacement” conspiracy theory.

Published Feb 15, 2023

 (David Lienemann/Wikimedia Commons)
Image Via David Lienemann/Wikimedia Commons
Claim:
A video of U.S. President Joe Biden from 2015 shows him promoting an agenda to make “white Americans” of European descent an “absolute minority” in the U.S. through “nonstop” immigration of people of color.
Context

This clip has been presented out of context and misrepresented. While Biden did repeat a demographic forecast that by 2017, white Americans of European descent would become an “absolute minority," that statement was not indicative of a plan or policy initiative to replace white Americans through immigration.

A 2015 video clip of then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden recirculated years later, in 2023, along with the sinister conspiracy theory that he has an agenda of reducing the "white Americans'" portion of the population by making immigration to the U.S. easier.

On Feb. 13, 2023, a tweet containing the video claimed: "Joe Biden Fantasizes About Making White Americans an 'Absolute Minority' Through 'Non-Stop' Immigration [...] One of the few promises he has kept." 

Many onlookers pointed to the footage as alleged evidence of Biden supporting and promoting what is known to white supremacist conspiracy theorists as the "great replacement," the notion that a plan exists to replace part or all of the country's white population with a non-white "inferior" population. The theory is also antisemitic, in that some believers blame Jewish people for setting the "great replacement" in motion. 

Other tweets condemning Biden's comments inserted the bracketed phrase "[We want]" in front of quotes from the video to change their context and meaning: 

Such posts actively misrepresented what Biden actually said in 2015. First, he was referencing white Americans of European descent, specifically. Further, he was not promoting an active agenda of replacing that group or other "white Americans" with immigrants of color, and no other evidence shows that he has acted on, or supported, such policies to make that happen. 

Also, he did not characterize demographic shifts as a result of his, or any politician's, policies, but rather was repeating forecasts that showed that in the coming years, Americans of white European descent would be inevitably be in the minority. The proportion of the population that ticks the "White alone non-Hispanic" box in the Census forms has fallen. The 2020 Census states that the "White alone non-Hispanic population" stands at 57.8 percent, and that group's proportion of the population has decreased considerably since 2010. However, we should note that Iranians, and other communities from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are officially categorized as white by the federal government, even as they are not considered white in other aspects of U.S. society. Biden was specifically talking about "White European stock," which would be a subset of this group. 

Despite the framing of the 2023 social media posts, at no point in the speech did Biden say anything that can be reasonably interpreted as promoting a plan to replace white people with immigrants of color. 

The video was taken from the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism on Feb. 17, 2015, near the end of the Obama-Biden presidential administration. A longer video of the event is available via C-SPAN.

Based on that evidence, we confirmed that the viral short clip circulating on social media in 2023 was authentic; it wasn't digitally edited to make it seem like Biden said something that he hadn't (learn tips for spotting deepfakes) .

At around the 10:20 mark in the C-SPAN video, Biden said:

An unrelenting stream of immigration, nonstop, nonstop. Folks like me who were Caucasian, of European descent for the first time in 2017 will be in an absolute minority in the United States of America, absolute minority. Fewer than 50 percent of the people in America from then and on will be White European stock. That's not a bad thing. That's a source of our strength.

That passage circulated out of context in 2023 and as such, did not accurately represent Biden's full point at the event. In a roundabout way, Biden appeared to be connecting American inclusion of immigrants of all backgrounds and ethnicities to the need to counter violent extremism without exclusionary tactics, arguing for giving opportunities and hope to immigrants so they would not be radicalized. 

"We are a nation of immigrants. That's who we are," he said. 

Before he made the in-question comment about expected 2017 demographic changes, he observed, "It started all the way back in the late 1700s. So there's been a constant, unrelenting stream of immigration, not in little trickles, but in large numbers." At one point, he referenced discrimination he said his Irish ancestors faced while trying to get jobs in the U.S., with potential employers displaying signs reading, "No Irish need apply," as well as "the anti-Catholic movements of the know-nothings in the 1800s."

At no point in the speech did he say that white people should be replaced by immigrants of color, nor did he give any indication that there was an ongoing, or soon-to-be announced policy initiative to make that happen. 

Given that the clip was pulled out of context, ignoring Biden's surrounding remarks praising the diversity of the U.S. population, as well as the fact that it does not show him promoting an alleged agenda to replace "White Americans" with immigrants of color, we rate this claim as "False." 

Sources

"FACT SHEET: The White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism." Whitehouse.Gov, 18 Feb. 2015, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/02/18/fact-sheet-white-house-summit-countering-violent-extremism. Accessed 15 Feb. 2023.

Kessler, Glenn. "Analysis | How Tucker Carlson Twisted a 2015 Clip of Biden into a Conspiracy Theory." Washington Post, 24 Sept. 2021. www.washingtonpost.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/24/how-tucker-carlson-twisted-2015-clip-biden-into-conspiracy-theory/. Accessed 15 Feb. 2023.

"The Racist 'Great Replacement' Conspiracy Theory Explained." Southern Poverty Law Center, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2022/05/17/racist-great-replacement-conspiracy-theory-explained. Accessed 15 Feb. 2023.

"Vice President Joe Biden Remarks on Extremism and Terrorism." C-SPAN.Org. https://www.c-span.org/video/?324394-2/vice-president-joe-biden-remarks-extremism-terrorism. Accessed 15 Feb. 2023.

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.

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