Several weeks ago on this blog I referenced the updated version of former President George H.W. Bush’s book, ALL THE BEST, My Life In Letters and Other Writings. In 1995 the NRA’s Wayne La Pierre issued a fund-raising letter the basis of which was to raise fear over government troops, in this case the ATF’s use of force at at Waco, Texas, bearing arms against U.S. citizens! Here from ALL THE BEST is President Bush’s letter of May 3, 1995 to then NRA President Thomas Washington with reference to La Pierre’s tactics!
Dear Mr. Washington,
I was outraged when, even in the wake of the Oklahoma City tragedy, Mr. Wayne La Pierre, executive vice president of N.R.A., defended his attack on federal agents as “jack-booted thugs.” To attack Secret Service agents or A.T.F. people or any government law enforcement people as “wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms” wanting to “attack law abiding citizens” is a vicious slander on good people.
Al Whicher, who served on my [ United States Secret Service ] detail when I was Vice President and President, was killed in Oklahoma City. He was no Nazi. He was a kind man, a loving parent, a man dedicated to serving his country — and serve it well he did.
In 1993, I attended the wake for A.T.F. agent Steve Willis, another dedicated officer who did his duty. I can assure you that this honorable man, killed by weird cultists, was no Nazi.
John Magaw, who used to head the U.S.S.S. and now heads A.T.F., is one of the most principled, decent men I have ever known. He would be the last to condone the kind of illegal behavior your ugly letter charges. The same is true for the F.B.I.’s able Director Louis Freeh. I appointed Mr. Freeh to the Federal Bench. His integrity and honor are beyond question.
Both John Magaw and Judge Freeh were in office when I was President. They both now serve in the current administration. They both have badges. Neither of them would ever give the government’s “go ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law abiding citizens.” (Your words)
I am a gun owner and an avid hunter. Over the years I have agreed with most of N.R.A.’s objectives, particularly your educational and training efforts, and your fundamental stance in favor of owning guns.
However, your broadside against Federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honor; and it offends my concept of service to country. It indirectly slanders a wide array of government law enforcement officials, who are out there, day and night, laying their lives on the line for all of us.
You have not repudiated Mr. LaPierre’s unwarranted attack. Therefore, I resign as a Life Member of N.R.A., said resignation to be effective upon your receipt of this letter. Please remove my name from your membership list. Sincerely,
[ signed ] George Bush
La Pierre was later forced to apologize. However, reading today’s discourse from the NRA, not much has changed?
In an ironic twist, the very next letter in ALL THE BEST, following his NRA resignation letter, is one that George Bush wrote in September of that same year to grieving parents who had lost a child. The letter is so much the measure of the man and especially relevant today following the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, I felt compelled to reprint it here.
Our caring son, Marvin, called today, broken-hearted. He told me of your sadness, of the loss of your young son, of the terrible blow to you and your many friends.
I know that at this, the moment of your anguish, there is little that words can do to console. I’ll bet it does help a little, however, to know that you have so many loving friends who really care.
Long ago Barbara and I lost a tiny four-year old to Leukemia. Of course we felt she was the most beautiful, wonderful little girl that God had ever put on this earth. We kept saying “Why our Robin? Why our gentle child of smiles and innocence”
Lots of people tried to help us find the answer. One woman wrote us and said, misquoting scripture, ” Let the little children suffer so they can come unto me.” Maybe she had it right, though.
I can expect you are now saying ” Why.”
Well, I can’t, even now, pretend to know the real answer; but let me tell you something that might help a little bit.
Only a few months after Robin died, the grief and awful aching hurt began to disappear, to give way to only happy memories of our blessed child. Oh we’d shed a tear when we’d think of something she’d said or done; but the hurt that literally racked our bodies literally went away–gone, vanished, replaced by happy thoughts.
Now , 40 years later, Robin brings us only happiness and joy–no sadness. She’s never left us. The ugly bruises, trade marks of dread Leukemia, are gone now. We can’t see them at all.
I’ll bet your son, Chase, was the best kid ever. I hope your hurt goes away soon. I hope you will live the rest of your lives with only happy memories of that wonderful son who is now safely tucked in, God’s loving arms around him.
Barbara and I send our most sincere condolences. And all of us in the Bush family send out love.
George Bush ( Also known as Marvin’s Dad)