Analysis: Bush has not forgotten how Trump tore America apart


Emilia McLeod, Chief Social Media and Web Editor

On Saturday, Sept. 11, former President George W. Bush spoke at the Flight 93 Memorial, where brave passengers took down a hijacked plane on 9/11. He commemorated the 20th anniversary of the attacks and the bravery displayed on that day. However, in a more unexpected fashion, he also rightfully pointed out the “malign force” flowing through the country today, putting shame on extremists in the country, as well as some notably manipulative political figures.

Bush started with a simple recollection of that day, but his speech quickly morphed into one correctly describing the horrific state of the country today.

As a nation, our adjustments have been profound. Many Americans struggled to understand why an enemy would hate us with such zeal. The security measures incorporated into our lives are both sources of comfort and reminders of our vulnerability. And we have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within. There is 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.”

This is the most controversial bit of the entire speech, due to his comparison. In case you missed it, he compared “violent extremists abroad” and “violent extremists at home” as being similar in their morality and actions. Essentially, he’s saying that terrorists and those who carry out domestic violence are one and the same. And, he’s not wrong.

The most important phrase in analyzing this paragraph is “determination to defile national symbols.” This makes the connection to recent events, which uncovers the true meaning of Bush referencing extremists. When he said this, one can immediately think of January 6 and the damage done to the national symbol, the White House. The comparison also gets more intense when remembering that Al Qaeda had also planned on hitting the White House with Flight 93, the memorial Bush was speaking at. This connection cannot be a coincidence.

Another defining bit of the speech is where Bush compares the unity shown following 9/11 to the politics and connection in the country today. Which, unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s common knowledge that the country is severely divided due to politics; especially 2016-2021 politics, if you know what I mean.

“In the weeks and months following the 9/11 attacks, I was proud to lead an amazing, resilient, united people. When it comes to the unity of America, those days seem distant from our own. A malign force seems at work in our common life that turns every disagreement into an argument, and every argument into a clash of cultures. So much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear, and resentment. That leaves us worried about our nation and our future together.”

In this section, the key phrase is: “So much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear, and resentment.” While Bush didn’t say his name, one can fill in the blank and figure it out; he’s talking about the fear-mongering Donald Trump.

From the start of his campaign, Trump has benefited from pushing the agenda of hate. It’s his technique. He weaponizes the unfamiliar to make his conservative constituents blindly follow him in a haze of fear and resentment: exactly what Bush mentioned.

One example is an immigration speech he made in 2016 in Arizona: “Countless innocent American lives have been stolen because our politicians have failed in their duty to secure our borders,” he said. He makes threats towards people’s safety to put them in a place of blind following, making them think they could be next. 

He even scares people into fearing the loss of what they know and desire. This can be seen in one of his Tweets from Sept. 8, 2020: “Suburban voters are pouring into the Republican Party because of the violence in Democrat-run cities and states. If Biden gets in, this violence is ‘coming to the Suburbs,’ and FAST. You could say goodbye to your American Dream!”

Bush is certainly no stranger to Trump’s fear-mongering technique of his campaign and political agenda. This is why he blatantly pointed it out in his 9/11 speech, reminding the American people inside the border can be the true danger, offering the same threat as the terrorists of 9/11. Bush fittingly references the riots on January 6 as a tool of this reminder, not forgetting that Trump was a big source of the emotions these people felt. None of his analogies were a mistake. Even after Trump’s presidency ended, Bush, like myself and many others, is warning of the fear and resentment he left coursing through his supporters that still threatens to run rampant today.