On Oct. 19, 2017, George W. Bush delivered a speech in New York that suddenly has many liberals praising him and conveniently acquiring momentary amnesia.
At the “Spirit of Liberty: At Home, In the World” event, he seems to call out President Trump and criticizes the nativism and “emboldened bigotry” seen recently in America. He quotes Martin Luther King, Jr. in an attempt to show his promotion of racial equality, but really just reveals that he believes in color blindness.
His speech, on its surface, sounds good: he condemns white supremacy and says that it is “blasphemy against the American creed.”
He speaks out against bullying, which is interesting, considering he defended and promoted torture during his two terms as president.
But his speech is no more than fodder to foolish liberals who think that because Trump is so blatantly awful, George W. Bush is somehow elevated.
He has regained popularity by making some flowery statements when his policies opened the door for Donald Trump and his atrocious presidency. He is riding the waves of American nostalgia and even inspiring politicians, such as Nancy Pelosi, to express a yearning for the days when Bush was in the Oval Office.
These new, cuddly sentiments toward Bush are problematic and dangerous.
Just because Trump is a horrible human and an unfit president does not render George W. Bush a retroactively more progressive leader. Bush’s approval rates were abysmal when he left the White House, but now he’s coasting on Trump’s hate-fueled empire in an attempt to prove he’s actually on the right side of history.
Let’s take a look at how Bush laid the groundwork for Islamophobia that President Trump is now so happily capitalizing on.
After 9/11, Bush addressed Islam in speeches as a religion of peace and claimed he did not want to “target” Muslims or people from the Middle East. Once, again, this sounds good at face-value, but the reality is that Bush implemented policies that heavily discriminated and profiled Muslims, such as the PATRIOT Act, and deported thousands of Muslims after the attack on the Twin Towers. Bush’s War on Terror has caused 1.3 to 2 million casualties; there is no agreed-upon number.
When civilians died in U.S-lead strikes, they were simply referred to as “collateral damage.” Despite Bush’s supposedly pro-Muslim speeches, his policies killed thousands of innocent Muslims and citizens in Middle Eastern countries.
Taking all this into consideration, it is easy to link the actions and attitudes that arose in the Bush administration with President Trump’s unabashed vitriol toward Muslims and his supporters’ proud defense of Islamophobia.
Trump simply cashed in on the hate and mistrust that George W. Bush instilled in the nation in the early 2000s.
This makes Bush’s comments about equality, nationalism, bigotry, and white supremacy invalid since he created fertile ground for Islamophobia and hate to breed.
Additionally, Bush continued the failed “war on drugs,” a pattern of profiling and arresting primarily people of color for drug abuse.
It has been a racist structure with discriminatory policies from its inception, but George W. Bush furthered it, increasing the militarization of domestic drug law enforcement, with about 40,000 SWAT raids every year of his presidency. Most of these raids targeted non-violent drug offenders and often resulted in misdemeanors.
The war on drugs has destroyed the lives of African Americans and other people of color in America, yet Bush claims that in current times, our “discourse [has been] degraded by casual cruelty.”
But the rabid targeting of black and brown people in segregated communities across America isn’t cruel?
And now, President Trump has declared a public health emergency in the wake of the rising opioid crisis.
He claimed stricter border control and a wall could help prevent drugs from coming into the country, thus demonizing Central and South American immigrants. He’s using the rise of opioid abuse – which is usually a result of doctors prescribing certain types of painkillers – to further his agenda against Latinos/as and as justification for stronger border control. Trump is taking advantage of the fact that America has systematically and relentlessly placed the burden of drug abuse on the shoulders of people of color.
I’m nauseated when I see Facebook and news articles commending George W. Bush’s “anti-Trump” sentiments.
He is not a hero.
He is not championing civil rights.
He is not erasing the decades of hate he spurred. He is using Trump’s barbarity to boost his own popularity.