While President Donald Trump continues to throw down harsh words and actions towards those peacefully protesting the police-restraint death of George Floyd, former President, George W. Bush, 73, is calling for understanding and empathy. The 43rd POTUS released a statement via Twitter on June 2 along with wife Laura Bush, also 73, and he showed the thoughtful qualities that are needed in a leader during these troubled times. “Laura and I are anguished by the brutal suffocation of George Floyd and disturbed by the injustice and fear that suffocate our country…this is not the time for us to lecture. It is time for us to listen,” the statement began.
Statement by President George W. Bush pic.twitter.com/KjEolhAN6U
— George W. Bush Presidential Center (@TheBushCenter) June 2, 2020
“It remains a shocking failure that many African Americans, especially young African American men, are harassed and threatened in their own country. It is a strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future,” President Bush continued. “This tragedy — in a long series of similar tragedies — raises a long overdue question: How do we end systemic racism in our society?”
Bush’s answer was, “The only way to see ourselves in a true light is to listen to the voices of so many who are hurting and grieving.” Without directly saying Trump’s name, Bush added that, “Those who set out to silence those voices do not understand the meaning of America — or how it becomes a better place.”
That’s some subtle shade towards our current president. Trump said on June 1 that he would use the U.S. military to quell protests, some of which have led to looting. He stated, “If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.” He gave the speech as a peaceful protest near the White House was dispersed by police firing rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at those in the crowd.
Mr. Bush explained, “Many doubt the justice of our country, and with good reason. Black people see the repeated violation of their rights without an urgent and adequate response from American institutions. We know that lasting justice will only come by peaceful means. Looting is not liberation, and destruction is not progress. But we also know that lasting peace in our communities requires truly equal justice. The rule of law ultimately depends on the fairness and legitimacy of the legal system. And achieving justice for all is the duty of all.”
“This will require a consistent, courageous, and creative effort,” Bush concluded. “We serve our neighbors best when we try to understand their experience. We love our neighbors as ourselves when we treat them as equals, in both protection and compassion. There is a better way — the way of empathy, and shared commitment, and bold action, and a peace rooted in justice. I am confident that together, Americans will choose the better way.” Now that is how a president is supposed to respond to help bring calm during times of civil unrest, rather than escalate tensions.