President Joe Biden on Tuesday night said that those who promoted white supremacist views were “demented” and “dangerous” people.
Mr Biden was responding to a question on how he would deal with the threat posed by white supremacy in the country, including those who participated in the insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January.
Calling them the greatest threat in terms of domestic terrorism in the US, he said at CNN’s town hall that the problem of white supremacy in America “is complex, it is wide-ranging and it is real”.
“I would make sure that my Justice Department and the Civil Rights Division is focused heavily on those very folks, and I would make sure that we, in fact, focus on how to deal with the rise of white supremacy,” he said.
Mr Biden explained that his administration would also look into the role of former military and police officers in the growth of white supremacy.
His comments came as former president Donald Trump and his former legal adviser Rudy Giuliani were sued for conspiring to incite the insurrection of the US Capitol with extremist groups such as Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.
The suit was filed by Democratic congressman Bennie Thompson and the civil rights organisation the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
While President Biden’s comments condemning white supremacy were largely welcomed by social media users, some of them criticised him for his choice of words, using an outdated term associated with mental health to refer to racism in the country.
“White nationalists aren’t racists because they’re mentally ill. They’re racist because they are the embodiment of the country’s most basic structures an impulses,” wrote a user on Twitter.
“No-one should go to jail for a drugs offence, no-one should go to jail for the use of a drug, they should go to drug rehabilitation,” he said.