Former President George W. Bush issued a statement on Tuesday that addressed the “brutal suffocation” of George Floyd and the subsequent protests and riots that have gripped the United States, Raw Story reported.
“It is time for America to examine our tragic failures — and as we do, we will also see some of our redeeming strengths,” Bush wrote.
The former president called the continued harassment and threats that African Americans — young men, in particular — face in their own country a “shocking failure.” According to Bush, the decision to engage in justified protest with the protection of “responsible law enforcement” is a “strength.”
Bush said the United States’s “greatest challenge” has been uniting people from diverse backgrounds and cultures into a “single nation of justice and opportunity.”
“The doctrine and habits of racial superiority, which once nearly split our country, still threaten our Union,” he stated.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) June 2, 2020
Bush name-checked Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, and Frederick Douglass as the country’s “heroes” who pushed messages that the 73-year-old said were not for the “fainthearted.”
“They often revealed the nation’s disturbing bigotry and exploitation — stains on our character sometimes difficult for the American majority to examine. We can only see the reality of America’s need by seeing it through the eyes of the threatened, oppressed, and disenfranchised.”
Bush concluded his statement by calling for a “consistent, courageous, and creative effort” to address the needs of those suffering in America. He added that understanding their struggle is the best way to help U.S. citizens.
Many social media commenters praised Bush’s message and noted the contrast to Donald Trump’s recent statements amid the protests. However, others claimed that the statement does not forgive the purported failures of Bush’s own presidency. In particular, one user suggested his message doesn’t “square” with what he accomplished when he had the power to make changes.
Others speculated that the comments were tantamount to an endorsement of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden — an endorsement Fox News analyst Juan Williams said could push some voters to the former vice president, as he explained in an op-ed for The Hill.
Regardless, Bush’s message comes as Trump faces a divided country and a halted economy. Former George H.W. Bush aide Lloyd Green paralleled Trump’s current situation to the elder Bush’s 1992 election loss. According to Green, the 41st U.S. president’s failure stemmed from problems in a similar political landscape created by the high unemployment and protests sparked by the acquittal of the police officers that beat Rodney King.