Liberal Professor Under Fire for Just Wanting ‘to Hug’ President George W. Bush

New School teacher is slammed on Twitter for kind thoughts

Faith, family, patriotism, and honor all were on full display this week as the nation mourned the passing of former President George H.W. Bush.

He was 94.

Though, the 41st president of the United States served only one term, he’s been praised across the aisle for his lifelong commitment to public service, for his devotion as a father, a grandfather, and a friend — and for his gravitas as a leader.

For the Bush family, the passing of 41 is a huge blow, especially with the death of former first lady Barbara Bush just eight months earlier.

For some people, such as Claire Potter — a self-described Democratic socialist — it was an opportunity to put aside partisan differences and unite as Americans.

A history professor at the New School in New York City, Potter expressed her condolences in a tweet on Wednesday, which coincided with the 41st president’s funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

But not surprisingly in today’s environment, she faced a wave of backlash for empathizing with members of the Bush family, according to Campus Reform.

“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,” reads Potter’s tweet — which she posted just after former President George W. Bush eulogized his father in a moving and ultimately emotional speech at the cathedral.

The knives came out after she posted that.

But one tweet in particular was especially mean-spirited toward her and reeked of identity politics: “It’s incredible that this moral preening is not directed at the racist who covered up Iran contra but instead at people who hurt your feelings online. The moral principle of being rich and white at work,” wrote one person.

Again, Potter took the high road, invoking a verse from Scripture.

“Re[garding] today’s Twitter event,” she wrote.

“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.”

She also responded to the backlash on Thursday in a statement to Campus Reform.

“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.”

She added, “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.”

She also said, “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,” she also said.

“The idea that you cannot be on the Left without being a hateful person is just wrong, and it isn’t my Left.”

Elizabeth Economou is a former CNBC staff writer and adjunct professor.