Former President George W. Bush on Saturday called on Americans to confront violent extremists at home, comparing them to violent extremists abroad and warning that they are “children of the same vicious spirit”.
In a speech marking the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, Bush said the United States has seen “growing evidence that dangers to our country can arise not only across borders, but also violence that accumulates inside”.
“There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home,” Bush said. “But in his disdain for pluralism, in his disregard for human life, in his determination to desecrate national symbols, they are children of the same vicious spirit.”
“And it is our permanent duty to confront them,” he added.
Bush’s speech at the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, came eight months after violent rebels entered the United States Capitol on January 6 in an attempt to prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 election for President Joe Biden.
The former Republican president has been outspoken in condemning the violent crowd of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol that day. “This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic, not in our democratic republic,” he said in a statement at the time, adding that he was “dismayed by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the elections.”
Law enforcement officials prepare for potential clashes and riots during a right-wing rally in Washington City, scheduled for September 18, which is intended to support the insurgents accused of the Capitol riots, according to an internal Capitol Police memo reviewed by Citizen Free Press.
Bush on Saturday lamented the division in the United States, contrasting the current political climate with the spirit of unity he said he observed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
“An evil force seems to act in our common life that turns every disagreement into an argument and every argument into a clash of cultures. Much of our politics has become a simple appeal to anger, fear and resentment,” said Bush. “That leaves us concerned about our nation and our future together”.
He claimed he had “no explanations or solutions,” but went on to relate what he said was the United States he saw after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
“At a time when religious fanaticism could have flowed freely, I saw Americans reject prejudice and embrace people of Muslim faith. That is the nation I know,” Bush said.
“At a time when nativism could have sparked hatred and violence against people perceived as foreigners, I saw Americans reaffirm their welcome to immigrants and refugees. That is the nation I know,” Bush added.
His comments come as some members of his own party have raised concerns about the resettlement of Afghan refugees in the United States after the United States withdrew from Afghanistan last month.
In addition to Biden and Bush, former President Barack Obama participated in Saturday’s commemorative events, bringing together all of America’s leaders from the post-9/11 era, except for former President Donald Trump, who visited District 17 of the US Police Department. New York City in Manhattan’s Midtown East neighborhood later on Saturday.
Trump, who will be a commentator on a boxing match this Saturday, commemorated the 20th anniversary with a short video in which he praised first responders and also criticized Biden for handling the exit from Afghanistan.
“A lot of things were on display that day, including most importantly the bravery of our police, firefighters and first responders of all kinds. The work they did was really incredible,” Trump said of 9/11 in the video. “It is also a sad moment because of the way our war against those who did so much damage to our country ended last week.”
It was the Trump administration that signed the February 2020 agreement with the Taliban for the United States to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
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