I vocally disagreed with Bush on policy issues when he served in the White House. But the former President struck the right tone when he noted that, while there “is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home,” they share the same “disdain for pluralism” and “disregard for human life,” as evidenced “in their determination to defile national symbols.”
When Bush stated that both the 9/11 and domestic violent extremists wanted to “defile national symbols,” I instantly thought of how the January 6 attackers laid siege to our Capitol and how the 9/11 terrorists had also plotted to strike the Capitol (or the White House) with the fourth plane, United 93. It was hard not to notice, given that Bush was speaking in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the very place that plane crashed when heroic passengers rushed the terrorists in control of the cockpit.
Bush then added point-blank that both foreign and domestic terrorists “are children of the same foul spirit.” He concluded with a call to action, “It is our continuing duty to confront them.”
The 9/11 terrorists and the January 6 attackers do share the same “foul spirit.” One glaring difference is that the al Qaeda attackers were incited and directed by Osama bin Laden, while the January 6 attackers were incited by an American President, Donald Trump.
It was Trump who for the two months after the election radicalized people with a tsunami of lies, claiming that the election was “stolen.” Trump then specifically called his supporters to come to Washington, DC, on January 6 to assist in his efforts to “Stop the steal.” And during the rally on that tragic day, Trump implored the crowd to act with lines like, “We’re stuck with a President who lost the election by a lot and we have to live with that for four more years,” adding, “We’re just not going to let that happen.”
We all saw what followed as MAGA supporters tried to “stop the steal” by attacking the Capitol during the congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.
As opposed to the days following 9/11, the greatest threat posed to our nation is not from foreign terrorists but from domestic extremists — as the FBI has noted — including those who subscribe to Trump’s election lies. Just last month, the Department of Homeland Security warned of that they had detected an increased “level of activity online” by people calling for violence in response to Trump’s claims of 2020 election fraud.
As the DHS bulletin stated, “Some conspiracy theories associated with reinstating former President Trump have included calls for violence if desired outcomes are not realized.”
This should not come as a surprise. For several months now, Trump has been using campaign rallies to repeat the very election lies that incited the January 6 act of domestic terrorism. For example, at his June rally in Ohio, Trump cried out that the 2020 election was “the crime of the century” and that “We won that election in a landslide.”
Trump has even publicly defended the January 6 attackers as “peaceful people” and “great people,” while calling the police officer who killed an attacker attempting to breach a secured area in the Capitol a “murderer.”
And on 9/11, Trump chose not to attend the official events at the site of the World Trade Center but instead made a “surprise” visit to an NYPD police precinct — before serving as an announcer for a celebrity boxing match later that night. At that police station, Trump again spread the same lie that led to the January 6 attack with his claim the 2020 election was “rigged.”
Think about this for a moment. Here’s Trump on the anniversary of 9/11, spewing the exact type of lie that incited the January 6 attack which resulted in Trump supporters brutally beating and injuring over 140 police officers — and he’s doing this to a room full of police officers. That level of arrogance and detachment from reality is dangerous.
The 9/11 terrorists, the January 6 attackers and Donald Trump do indeed share the “same foul spirit.” If we want to keep America truly safe from domestic terrorists, that means that all involved in the January 6 attack must be brought to justice. And that includes the man who incited that act of domestic terrorism: Donald J. Trump.