Former President George W. Bush took a thinly veiled swipe at the Jan. 6 insurrectionists and other U.S. political extremists during a 9/11 speech Saturday, calling them “children of the same foul spirit” as the terrorists who attacked America 20 years ago.
“We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within,” Bush said at a Shanksville, Pennsylvania, ceremony to remember the hijacking and crash of United Flight 93, which was commandeered by Muslim terrorists.
“There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home,” Bush said.
“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.”
Bush’s 10-minute speech — before an audience that included Vice President Harris and former Vice President Dick Cheney — compared what he called the unity of Americans after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, with the disunity of the present day.
“In the weeks and months following the 9/11 attacks, I was proud to lead an amazing, resilient, united people,” Bush said.
“When it comes to the unity of America, those days seem distant from our own.
“Malign forces at work in our common life that turn 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 his remarks, Bush also commended the bravery of the Flight 93 passengers and crew, who by causing the Boeing 757 jetliner to crash in rural Pennsylvania are believed to have foiled the hijackers’ plans to crash the jetliner into the U.S. Capitol.
“The 33 passengers and seven crew of Flight 93 could have been any group of citizens selected by fate. In a sense, they stood in for us all,” Bush said. “The terrorists soon discovered that a random group of Americans is an exceptional group of people.”
After he left the 9/11 ceremonies in New York, President Joe Biden also arrived in Shanksville, where he laid a wreath at the Flight 93 memorial’s Wall of Names. Biden did not speak at the ceremony.