President Joe Biden was sharply criticized Friday for using the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as an occasion to denounce "gun violence."
What did Biden say?
"I am stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened by the news that my friend Abe Shinzo, former Prime Minister of Japan, was shot and killed while campaigning. This is a tragedy for Japan and for all who knew him," Biden said.
"I had the privilege to work closely with Prime Minister Abe. As Vice President, I visited him in Tokyo and welcomed him to Washington. He was a champion of the Alliance between our nations and the friendship between our people," he continued. "The longest serving Japanese Prime Minister, his vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific will endure. Above all, he cared deeply about the Japanese people and dedicated his life to their service. Even at the moment he was attacked, he was engaged in the work of democracy."
But it was the last part of the statement that drew intense criticism because Biden used the moment to mention "gun violence."
While there are many details that we do not yet know, we know that violent attacks are never acceptable and that gun violence always leaves a deep scar on the communities that are affected by it. The United States stands with Japan in this moment of grief. I send my deepest condolences to his family.
The inclusion of "gun violence" is particularly jarring because Japan imposes strict anti-gun laws, thus making gun violence in Japan almost nonexistent.
What was the reaction?
Biden was accused of "hijack[ing]" Abe's tragic death for "political expedience," which was described as "governing by Twitter."
- "Calling the assassination of a major world leader 'gun violence' is governing by Twitter. Just the dumbest f***ing thing for a president to say," Noam Blum reacted.
- "Joe Biden says that assassinating Shinzo Abe is a problem of 'gun violence.' This is perhaps the stupidest thing he has ever said, and that is saying something," Ben Shapiro said.
- "Abe's death is a tragedy for democracy and capitalism around the world, and Biden's decision to hijack his death for domestic political expedience is more than malicious. It's moronic," conservative writer Tiana Lowe wrote.
- "Say what you will about the Biden admin. You can call them crass, petulant, childish, self-indulgent, tone-deaf, etc. You can say they neurotically fixate on partisan battles at the expense of American statesmanship and interests. But you can't deny their message discipline," Omri Ceren, national security adviser for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), said.
- "God, what garbage," writer David Harsanyi reacted.
- "Extremely cringe to work in 'gun violence' given the fact that Japan nearly completely prohibits gun ownership," writer Brad Polumbo said.