Biden comments on Olympics sparks backlash from Jewish, LGBT communities

Members of the Jewish and LGBT community spoke out against former Vice President Joe Biden Friday after he compared this year’s Olympics in China to the 1968 games in Mexico City.

Biden, who attended the recent Olympics in South Korea, told Reuters in an interview that he “hadn’t experienced the slaughter of innocent people like at the Olympics” in Mexico City nearly 50 years ago.

Some political observers went on the offensive after Biden’s remarks and accused him of failing to call on the Chinese government to improve human rights and the press in the name of sports.

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, called Biden’s comments “demeaning,” while John Conyers (D-Mich.), the 88-year-old former congressman who was the longest-serving House member, said he was offended.

“Now apparently @JoeBiden is comparing the slaughter of #Mexicanpeoples and #Peruvians at the hands of the #Communist forces #IGn’tGiveaF**k,” Conyers tweeted.

“We need strong policies and values in place regardless of a global event. We need a global spirit of respect & respect to protect human rights for all,” tweeted Steve Womack, the vice chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Joshua Rosenberg, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, tweeted that Biden’s “words have been distorted & misrepresented to the point of calling him a coward.”

He added: “The term ‘displacement Olympics’ has been used in the past. This is why we asked the IOC to restrict the use of symbols of the Mexican presidential events but they refused and allowed the content of the games.”

Ben Elgar, a member of the American Jewish Committee, criticized Biden for not making similar remarks when the Mexican government forcibly relocated thousands of people from the agricultural reserves in Tlatelolco as part of hosting the 1968 Olympic Games.

“During the Tlatelolco Games of 1968, thousands of Mexican farm families were forcibly displaced from their homes into concentration camps and and then deported back home. Biden’s appearance in Mexico shows that he hasn’t been critical of the abusive actions of foreign governments, nor have his public comments on behalf of our national interest,” he said.

“Our current government could not risk demonstrating its (or any country’s) bad intentions to our global interests by allowing a disturbing lack of solidarity in moments like this,” he said.

This week in Beijing, Biden commended President Xi Jinping for his efforts to reduce America’s trade deficit with China and suggested U.S. trade policy was not “principled,” as it appeared to favor Japan and Germany, citing those countries’ trade deficits with the U.S.

Biden also urged U.S. President Donald Trump to stop what he called “immoral” actions like implementing trade tariffs, and echoed many in the administration by echoing Trump’s rhetoric against the Iran nuclear deal.

Biden compared what he said was “unsustainable trade” with China to the downward spiral that is now “eroding our sovereignty.”

“We must use every tool in the toolbox to put the brakes on this,” he said.

Conyers, who served in the House from 1967 to 1997, compared Biden’s comments to comments in 1999 when then-President Bill Clinton said the “North Korean nuclear standoff is not the issue. The issue is how much we can put our troops on the border between the North and South.”

“Are we ready to go back to the same old game with North Korea?” he said.

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