One of the most damaging things a society can have is ethnic segregation. Contact hypothesis tells us that being around other people is one of the ways we break down barriers and bridge divides.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, however, has a history of expressing support for ethnic separation or helping defeat integration efforts in a variety of contexts.
For instance, he fought school busing as a young politician:
Biden was at the forefront of this retreat: He had expressed support for integration and—more specifically—busing during his Senate campaign in 1972, but once elected, he discovered just how bitterly his white constituents opposed the method. In 1973 and 1974, Biden began voting for many of the Senate’s anti-busing bills, claiming that he favored school desegregation, but just objected to “forced busing.”
Then, as a court-ordered integration plan loomed over Wilmington, Delaware, in 1974, Biden’s constituents transformed their resistance to busing into an organized—and angry—opposition. So Biden transformed, too. That year, Joe Biden morphed into a leading anti-busing crusader—all the while continuing to insist that he supported the goal of school desegregation, he only opposed busing as the means to achieve that end.
When he ran for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2008, he wanted to partition Iraq into basically three countries based on Shia and Sunni sects, as well as a Kurdish region:
Biden’s so-called soft-partition plan – a variation of the blueprint dividing up Bosnia in 1995 – calls for dividing Iraq into three semi-autonomous regions, held together by a central government.
There would be a loose Kurdistan, a loose Shiastan and a loose Sunnistan, all under a big, if weak, Iraq umbrella.
When he became the Vice President, he once told American Jews they needed Israel because America could not ensure their safety:
It was at that [family] table that I learned that the only way to ensure that it could never happen again was the establishment and the existence of a secure, Jewish state of Israel. (Applause.) I remember my father, a Christian, being baffled at the debate taking place at the end of World War II talking about it. I don’t remember it at that time, but about how there could be a debate about whether or not — within the community, of whether or not to establish the State of Israel.
My father would say, were he a Jew, he would never, never entrust the security of his people to any individual nation, no matter how good and how noble it was, like the United States. (Applause.) Everybody knows it’s real. […]
[Golda Meir said to me,] our secret weapon, Senator, is we have no place else to go. We have no place else to go. (Applause.) Ladies and gentlemen, our job is to make sure there’s always a place to go, that there’s always an Israel, that there’s always a secure Israel and there’s an Israel that can care for itself. (Applause.) My father was right. You are right. It’s the ultimate guarantor of never again.
It is true that ethnic separation, in extreme circumstances, is one way to avoid conflict. It is basically the solution that was implemented in the Balkans. But it an undesirable solution because it avoids conflicts rather than ameliorating them. Biden has expressed support for separation in a number of contexts that suggest he has an ideological worldview that may elude the benefits of integration.