opinion   |  column

COLUMN: Don't fall for revisionism of Bush Jr.



In what can only be described as hypocritical performance art, the speech given by former President George W. Bush last Thursday decrying the Trump administration revealed a mindset of deranged amnesia amongst the political elite.

The punditry gushed over Junior’s condemnation of “white supremacy” and “nativism,” some calling it a “major smackdown on Trumpism” and an attack on “nationalism in politics.” 

I am disgusted — though not surprised — by anyone choosing to lionize the man who is without doubt one of the biggest mass murderers of the 21st century. 

Clearly, many democrats and liberals, whose main complaint of Trump is his vulgarity and disregard for political norms, are happy to engage in any type of Bush revisionism. 

Bush, at least, spoke with respectability while running his torture program. 

Bush’s speech itself reveals a man either unaware of his own actions as president or in denial about them. 

“Public confidence in our institutions has declined,” Bush said. “Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.” 

Bush, his cronies and their own fabrications about the Iraq War that has killed hundreds of thousands of people likely contributed to this lack of institutional confidence. 

Maybe “bigotry seems emboldened” because the endless attacks of terror directly caused by this man have distorted public views towards Muslims and Arabs. 

The “fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade” is definitely related to the global financial crash Bush presided over that impoverished millions. 

Trump is such a machine gun of xenophobia he can be confused with the genuine, fascist militarism embodied by Bush. To argue who is technically worse between the two misses the point about why Bush revisionism is so dangerous. 

The worst of Trump — Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportations and his barbaric bombing campaigns — are but the next logical episode in the misleading fight against terrorism started by Junior, added to by former President Barack Obama with drones and regime change in Libya and then handed to Trump. 

Don’t contrast Trump’s jingoism with Junior when the latter bombed a metropolitan area on live television, rewrote the laws of war, tortured and disappeared innocents, emboldened Israeli atrocities, and supported death squads around the world. Even some of Bush’s minor crimes — the overthrow of the Haitian government and failed overthrow of Venezuela’s government — in retrospect show a penchant for violence perhaps even beyond Trump’s. 

On a personal note, one of my earliest memories is Junior’s Shock & Awe bombing of Baghdad. 

I encourage anyone to watch that footage and tell me with sincerity they are proud of this country or proud of its military. I grew up, like so many of my generation, in a thinly veiled military state that boasted of its own moral authority and role as the protector of freedom and democracy. 

Yet simultaneously I saw the bombing of civilians celebrated and torture justified. The cognitive dissonance and double-speak of the Bush years profoundly influenced me and will continue to have a perverse influence on this country for years to come. 

That is what makes seeing liberals in their praise of Junior so infuriating. This inkling towards Bush revisionism reveals the depravity of the liberal pundits who now support him.

People on the left should not excuse Bush’s war crimes, and they certainly shouldn’t become apologists. 

luwrobin@indiana.edu

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