43rd U.S. President George W. Bush spoke in Shanksville, PA on Saturday morning to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Bush spoke just outside the crash site of Flight 93. During one portion of his nine-minute speech, Bush condemned “violent extremism at home.”
“We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within,” said Bush. “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.”
The former president did not single out any particular ideology in his speech, though government agencies have labelled supposed right-wing terror threats as top priorities. In June, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland stated that white supremacists present the largest current terror threat to the country. “In the FBI’s view, the top domestic violent extremist threat comes from racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists specifically those who advocate for the superiority of the white race,” Garland said. A similar assessment was submitted by the DHS last October.
NOW – George W. Bush compares "domestic extremists" to Islamist terrorists in his 9/11 speech: "They are children of the same foul spirit, and it is our continuing duty to confront them…"pic.twitter.com/zOP9CzQmmh
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) September 11, 2021
Many have been critical of the selective application of terrorism depending on ideology. One infamous example has been the FBI labelling the 2017 congressional baseball game shooting as “suicide by cop” before quietly reversing that determination earlier this year after backlash. Merrick Garland also has seemingly ideological views on what is and isn’t considered terrorism. In February, Garland stated that the firebombing of a federal courthouse in Portland was not terrorism because it happened “at night” and was thus unoccupied. Meanwhile, Garland has called January 6th one of the most “heinous attacks” on the country since the Civil War and has compared it to the Oklahoma City bombing.
Several former Bush officials and allies have echoed this sentiment. Former Bush strategist Matthew Dowd has routinely referred to domestic terrorism as an existential threat. “We have a safe haven for terrorists in America right now that has grown over the last ten years and metastasized and resulted in an insurrection in our U.S. Capitol,” Dowd said on August 31. Dowd served as the chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign.
if the media covered the assault on democracy here and the rise of white supremacist terrorism in America like they have Afghanistan, we might actually have a voting rights bill and we could be holding domestic terrorists and their instigators accountable.
— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) September 1, 2021