Former US president George H W Bush died on 30 November. And unsurprisingly, the media and political establishments have sought to whitewash his dark legacy. But fortunately, bold voices on Twitter and in the independent media have been countering this deception with the truth.
Many reasons to challenge the George H W Bush whitewash
As the Intercept‘s Mehdi Hasan explained, Bush’s legacy is one of “war crimes, racism, and obstruction of justice”. Common Dreams, meanwhile, highlighted in particular “his role in the Gulf War, Central America, and the Iran-Contra affair”. And Left Voice summarised seven reasons why it wouldn’t be mourning the former president, including:
- The “orchestration of coups and dirty wars”, mostly in Latin America.
- “Imperialist wars” in Iraq and Panama, which killed many thousands of civilians.
- A damaging free trade deal that fostered sweatshop labour and hit indigenous people in Mexico particularly hard.
- The “most racist” political campaign before the era of Donald Trump.
- The devastating ‘war on drugs‘, which destroyed lives but “did nothing to reduce drug abuse”.
- His woeful performance during the AIDS crisis.
- Like Trump, Bush nominated (and defended) a hard-right alleged sex offender for the Supreme Court.
He is also the man who said “I will never apologize for the United States — I don’t care what the facts are” when the US downed an Iranian commercial flight in 1988, killing 290 civilians (including 66 children) in the process. And as Rutgers professor David Greenberg insists, he was a politician who “put self-interest over principle time and time again”, surrendering frequently to “instincts of political self-promotion and self-preservation”.
No – just no
The mainstream media’s coverage, meanwhile, was woeful. But Twitter wasn’t having it.
Award-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald led the way:
Are we allowed to point out the bad things George HW Bush did yet? Has the media's nationalistic etiquette ban on discussing history and politics accurately and truthfully been lifted? https://t.co/8koNRmJVVq
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) December 3, 2018
I sadly don't have time today to pay homage to George HW Bush, so I'll rely on the 1992 statement of Lawrence Walsh, the Special Counsel investigating the Iran-Contra crimes, when Bush pardoned his criminal aides & thus ended all investigations into Bush's own grave crimes #RIP41 pic.twitter.com/DKRR8GbzQo
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) December 1, 2018
He also stressed that:
it’s a really bad idea to treat political leaders with reverence & turn them into deities upon death. It’s a creepy ritual that does great damage
Once again, a politician has died and the mainstream media is bending over backward to make him appear better than he was. George H.W. Bush’s legacy is one of a war criminal whose administration sold wars based on lies, killed innocent civilians, and increased the War on Drugs.
— Rachel Blevins (@RachBlevins) December 2, 2018
When a war criminal dies, it should be obvious that we not honor the war criminal & instead honor their victims. On 2/13/‘91, 408 civilians were killed — most of them women, children, & the elderly, & most of them burned alive — when US forces bombed the Amiriyah shelter in Iraq.
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) December 1, 2018
George H.W. Bush 1924-2018
My thoughts were included in a #WBAI report on the career of George H.W. Bush. Bush was a typical American president, that is to say he was a war criminal. Please listen to the report which includes my interview.#Bush41 https://t.co/OZDUuZM0jc
— Margaret Kimberley (@freedomrideblog) December 3, 2018
George HW Bush systematically attacked the civilian infrastructure in Iraq. He turned hospitals into death rows for infants. He widely used depleted uranium, causing cancer rates to skyrocket. He made Iraq a mass graveyard. And the killing hasn’t stopped since.
— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) December 1, 2018
This Christmas it will be 29 years since George HW #Bush ordered the US invasion of Panama with the sole objective to arrest Noriega, the former CIA agent who “knew too much”. Nearly 3000 civilians were killed. pic.twitter.com/Kb7vGx7eCx
— Lance Karlson (@TheNoriegaTapes) December 1, 2018
But it wasn’t just the Republican establishment that praised Bush. It was the Democratic establishment too. And even Bernie Sanders – the highest-profile voice of the US left today – thanked Bush for his “humble and devoted service”. Needless to say, people expected much better from him:
He was the exact opposite of honorable, and ruined a lot of lives. I understand you need to play the game, sir, but you could have at least just stayed quiet, right? This is disappointing.
— Mashed PoDaniel (@danielwhitcomb) December 1, 2018
— 4U2PN2 (@Warhamburger40k) December 1, 2018
He was a war criminal Bernard. You could just say nothing.
— Kenneth Toilethole (@hottest_takes) December 1, 2018
In short, Twitter wasn’t having it, and neither should we.
The whitewashing is completely unacceptable – and it must stop.
Featured image via White House Photographic Office – Wikimedia Commons
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?