Activists from anti-war group CodePink on Sunday protested an exhibit of paintings of veterans by former President George W. Bush at the Kennedy Center, calling the decision to feature the work an example of "artwash."
Bush's paintings have been controversial over his post-presidency, with much of the criticism focusing on the appearance of the former president using as subjects the men who went to war in Iraq because of fase claims about Iraq.
"Why are we celebrating the guy who took these people to war?" asked CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin at the group's protest Sunday.
Here’s what I thought about the Kennedy Center hosting an exhibit—sponsored by Boeing—of George W. Bush’s paintings. pic.twitter.com/wRszeojUKI— Medea Benjamin (@medeabenjamin) October 13, 2019
Benjamin and Ariel Gold, the organization's national co-director, also focused their attention on the fact that one of the country's largest weapons manufacturers, Boeing, sponsored the exhibit at the Kennedy Center.
"The other thing we're questioning is why is Boeing paying for this?" Benjamin said. "Boeing, which made billions of dollars from these wars—who create the bombs that kill the Iraqi people, the Afghan people—they are the ones paying for this. And it's of course our tax dollars that made them wealthy."
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The Kennedy Center is showing there paintings of George W. Bush. @medeabenjamin and I came to see it and were disgusted that they would artwash war crimes.— Ariel Gold אריאל (@ArielElyseGold) October 13, 2019
We had to say something. pic.twitter.com/B8DkJ4u5fb
The protest comes after a week in which Bush's legacy was the subject of renewed discussion following daytime television host Ellen DeGeneres' appearance with the former president on October 6 at a Dallas Cowboys game.
During Bush's presidency, he started the ongoing "Global War on Terror," invaded Iraq based on false pretenses, codified torture into U.S. law, watched as New Orleans drowned in the aftermath of Katrina, used panic over gay marriage to get re-elected in 2004, crashed the U.S. economy, fired U.S. attorneys who were critical of his administration, set up an extrajudicial prison in Guantanamo, scrapped the Kyoto agreement, and did much, much more.
Thus there was much outrage and condemnation from the left at DeGeneres for using her public platform to legitimatize Bush, which led to DeGeneres addressing the controversy on her show October 7 in a plea for kindness that was quickly edited by activist Rafael Shimunov to show the true cost of Bush's presidency.
This video by @rafaelshimunov, juxtaposing Ellen DeGeneres's apologia for George W. Bush with images of his war crimes, is being removed from Twitter, reportedly by means of bogus copyright claims. Shimunov recommends not posting again after getting a takedown notice. Bring it on pic.twitter.com/xZ3INHY5RW— Shuja Haider (@shujaxhaider) October 10, 2019
"I guess Medea and Ellen have different opinions of George W.," tweeted CodePink's Gold. "Go figure."