Bush alludes to Capitol rioters' “determination to defile national symbols” in 9/11 speech

Former President George W. Bush on Saturday warned of homegrown violent extremism while speaking at the Flight 93 memorial on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Driving the news: "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, who joined Vice President Kamala Harris and others at the ceremony.


  • "There's little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. 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."
  • Following the Capitol riot, Bush released a statement denouncing "the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement."
  • "The violent assault on the Capitol — and disruption of a Constitutionally-mandated meeting of Congress — was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes. Insurrection could do grave damage to our Nation and reputation," the 43rd president added.
  • The former President's remarks come a week before a Sept. 18 rally planned in support of individuals arrested for storming the Capitol on Jan. 6. The rally — spearheaded by former Donald Trump presidential campaign official Matt Braynard — is known as "Justice for J6."

The big picture: Bush also highlighted the unity that was on display in the weeks following the 9/11 attacks in his speech on Saturday.

  • "In the weeks and months following the 9/11 attacks, I was proud to lead an amazing, resilient, united people. When it comes to the unity of America, those days seem distant from our own," Bush said.

President Biden speaking at a fire station in Shanksville praised Bush's speech and echoed his message of the importance of restoring national unity.

  • "Are we going to, in the next four, five, six, ten years, demonstrate that democracies can work, or not?" Biden said.
  • Former President Trump, who opted not to participate in official events and instead spoke to first responders at the 17th Precinct station house in East Midtown, struck a divisive tone in his remarks.

Go deeper: Harris, Bush preach unity at Flight 93 memorial ceremony on 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks


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