Prof harassed on Twitter for saying she 'just wants to hug' George W. Bush
A New York professor faced a wave of online backlash over a tweet in which she expressed her sympathies for former President George W. Bush amid the passing of his father, former President George H.W. Bush.
"I opposed George W. Bush in all things for eight years," New School history Professor Claire Potter, a self-described Democratic Socialist, tweeted Wednesday, the same day as the 41st president's funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. "Now, all I can think about is that he lost both his parents in one year, and I just want to hug him."
"I opposed George W. Bush in all things for eight years. Now, all I can think about is that he lost both his parents in one year, and I just want to hug him."
The tweet came just after Bush shed tears while delivering the eulogy for his father, who died Friday at the age of 94. George W. Bush's mother, Barbara Bush, died earlier in 2018.
But while Potter was able to put aside politics for a day, others clearly were not.
"I mean, he sat [on] his hands while Black people were being drowned by Katrina, but okay. You do you," one Twitter user replied.
"The fact that you are a professor of history is very, very distressing," another said.
"Now he has two things in common with a lot of people in Iraq and Afghanistan," one user commented.
Another even contended that the death of Bush's mother and father in the same year is "not that sad" because "they were both >90 years old and died peacefully and comfortably."
Some replies to Potter's tweet were even more vile.
"I hope there's a hell so his entire family can burn in it for all of eternity," one person tweeted.
Another said, "Nah. After everything he’s done to this country, he deserves all this pain and more."
Someone else called the former president's grief over the loss of his father, "fucking hilarious."
One user expressed deeper sympathy "for the Guantánamo Bay detainee tortured by Bush’s CIA who now has permanent mental and physical disabilities and is still in Gitmo."
Potter, for her part, responded to the backlash with two tweets.
"Re. today's Twitter event: my best advice when involved in a Twitter dispute, or when voicing feelings about others, is from Luke 6:31: 'Do to others as you would have them do to you.' I don't always remember that, but when I do I am never ashamed of my words or actions," the professor said.
"And seriously -- who would you prefer to be loved by, God or Twitter?" she added.
Potter responded to the backlash in a statement to Campus Reform on Thursday, saying, "the folks who are dunking on me are people I do not know, and I cannot fathom why they would care what I think about George W. Bush, or why I would care what they think. And I cannot imagine why they think that broadcasting hatred and contempt for me or for President Bush constitutes a political statement that is any different in its moral content from the right wing extremists that they are opposed to."
"So it says far more about them than about me, and if I ran into President Bush tomorrow, I would probably hug him. That doesn't mean that our differences disappear -- but I try to treat everyone like a human being first. Sometimes I fail, but I try. The idea that you cannot be on the left without being a hateful person is just wrong, and it isn't my left," she added.