“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden quoted the 20th century poet W.B. Yeats during a speech Thursday, hours after the FBI confirmed two packages containing suspected pipe bombs addressed to Biden had been intercepted at postal facilities in Delaware.
The bureau said the packages were similar to others sent to prominent Democrats and critics of President Donald Trump in recent days, including President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and billionaire activist George Soros. On Friday, the FBI said two more packages had been intercepted, including one addressed to New Jersey U.S. Senator Cory Booker.
During the previously scheduled event at the University of Buffalo in western New York, Biden said he hoped the spate of potential mail bombs would serve as a wake-up call for political figures to “put this country back together again.”
“This division, this hatred, this ugliness — it has to end,” he said.
“If you took a particularly negative view to where we are right now,” Biden said, one might be reminded of the stanza from Yeats’ 1919 poem “The Second Coming,” which continues:
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
And while urging non-partisanship, Biden — who is reportedly actively exploring a 2020 presidential run — appeared to reject previous statements made by President Trump.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the press is not the enemy of the people,” Biden said. “Immigrants are not ‘animals.’ ”
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper — who was also targeted by a suspicious package, according to the Associated Press — told CNN Friday morning that the devices were “not going to silence the administration’s critics.”
Clapper stressed that he did not want to suggest any direct link between Trump’s past rhetoric and the packages. But he said Trump should bear responsibility for the “coarseness and uncivility of the dialogue in this country.”
Robert De Niro, another target of a suspicious package, is calling on people to vote.
In a statement released by his publicist on Friday, the actor says, “There’s something more powerful than bombs, and that’s your vote. People must vote!”
A suspicious package containing what authorities described as a crude pipe bomb was discovered at De Niro’s New York City office on Thursday.
De Niro says he is thankful no one was hurt. He also thanked “the brave and resourceful security and law enforcement people for protecting us.”
WHYY’s Cris Barrish, Katie Colaneri, and the Associated Press contributed reporting.