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No 'Artwash' for Bush's Crimes, Says CodePink in Protest of Exhibit of Former President's Paintings of Veterans in War He Started

"Why are we celebrating the guy who took these people to war?"

CodePink activists Ariel Gold and Medea Benjamin protesting Sunday at the Kennedy Center's exhibition of former President George W. Bush's art.

CodePink activists Ariel Gold and Medea Benjamin protesting Sunday at the Kennedy Center's exhibition of former President George W. Bush's art. (Image: CodePink/screenshot)

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. 

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."

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. 

"I guess Medea and Ellen have different opinions of George W.," tweeted CodePink's Gold. "Go figure."

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