Former President George W. Bush went full CNN while commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on Saturday. As the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the former president recalled the sense of unity America experienced in the wake of the attacks and contrasted it to the deep divisions the nation is experiencing today.
“For those too young to recall that clear September day, it is hard to describe the mix of feelings we experienced,” President Bush said. “There was horror at the scale of destruction, and awe at the bravery and kindness that rose to meet it. There was shock at the audacity of evil, and gratitude for the heroism and decency that opposed it.”
But later in his speech, he warned of the dangers of domestic terrorism and made a thinly veiled reference to the individuals who participated in the assault on the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6. He said:
“We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders. But from violence that gathers within. There’s little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism. In their disregard for human life. In their determination to defile national symbols. They are children of the same foul spirit and it is our continuing duty to confront them.”
What a mind blowingly terrible comparison to make on 9/11
— Kevin Dalton (@NextLAMayor) September 11, 2021
Bush’s comments reflect arguments being made by some on the left who have argued in the past that Jan. 6 was as horrible –- or worse than -– the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That a former president would use the 20th anniversary of one of the most painful and devastating events in American history to take a political shot at a group of Americans is despicable, but not surprising.
Directly after waxing nostalgic about the unity between Americans after the 9/11 attacks, Bush made the brazenly divisive – and inaccurate – comparison. Yes, those who assaulted the Capitol building and engaged in violence were engaged in abhorrent behavior. But they are not even close to being on the same level as those who hijacked planes, flew them into buildings, and killed 3,000 Americans and others.
This should not even have to be said — but apparently, in this political environment, it must be said. People who use 9/11 in this way show a disgusting lack of respect for those who lost loved ones in the attacks. They diminish the experiences of people who were present in New York City on that day. It mocks the sacrifices made by our service members in the bloody wars that followed. Unfortunately, for some on the right, seeking the approval of the left is more important than operating in reality.