George W. Bush’s attempted rebrand from aLlEgEd war criminal to respectable model of Republican leadership continues unabated.
The former president spoke at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylania on Saturday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, The New York Times reports. His remarks are most notable for the ways in which they attempt to revise the historical record of what happened after that day—specifically, the rise in Islamophobia and anti-Muslim violence in the United States, which he completely left out of his account.
Directly addressing “those too young to recall that clear September day,” per CNN, Bush recalls seeing all Americans, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, come together following the attacks without ever once giving into Islamophobic bigotry:
On America’s day of trial and grief, I saw millions of people instinctively grab for a neighbor’s hand and rally to the cause of one another. That is the America I know.
At a time when religious bigotry might have flowed freely, I saw Americans reject prejudice and embrace people of Muslim faith. That is the nation I know.
At a time when nativism could have stirred hatred and violence against people perceived as outsiders, I saw Americans reaffirm their welcome to immigrants and refugees. That is the nation I know...
This is not mere nostalgia; it is the truest version of ourselves. It is what we have been—and what we can be again.
This is complete bullshit. Bush himself responded to the attacks by launching a global “war on terror,” which caused the deaths of at least 897,000 people worldwide and displaced a minimum of 38 million others, Vox reports. Furthermore, non-Muslim Americans didn’t by and large “reject prejudice and embrace people of Muslim faith”; hate crimes against Muslims skyrocketed 500 percent between 2000 and 2009, according to NPR, and Muslims and immigrants of many faiths in the U.S. experienced newfound levels of harassment and social ostracism, as the accounts in this Al Jazeera piece demonstrate. Border policing increased as did mass surveillance. Nearly 40 people are locked up in Guantanamo Bay at present, notes Vox, indefinitely detained with no trial.
I would find this kind of blatant historical revisionism galling had I not lived through the Bush presidency. That was one of his administration’s specialties.