Former President George W. Bush lashed out against white supremacist and nationalistic tendencies Thursday during a speech in New York City, saying they are the antithesis of what it means to be American.
He spoke at the “Spirit of Liberty: At Home, In The World” event at the George W. Bush Institute.
“Our identity as a nation — unlike many other nations — is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood,” Bush said. “This means that people of every race, religion and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.”
He said that in recent decades “bigotry seems emboldened,” adding that the political landscape seems “more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.”
“We’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty,” Bush said. “Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions, forgetting the image of God we should see in each other.”
Though he didn’t specifically mention President Donald Trump by name, Bush appeared to advocate for a number of ideas opposing the current president’s policies. Bush pushed for free trade and “global engagement.”
“And free trade helped make America into a global economic power,” he said.
Bush said the United States isn’t immune to recent crises in Europe, which he says has “developed an identity crisis.”
“We have seen insolvency, economic stagnation, youth unemployment, anger about immigration, resurgent ethno-nationalism, and deep questions about the meaning and durability of the European Union,” he said.
Bush also tackled Russia’s influence on the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“The Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other,” he said. “This effort is broad, systematic and stealthy, it’s conducted across a range of social media platforms.
“Ultimately, this assault won’t succeed. But foreign aggressions — including cyber-attacks, disinformation and financial influence — should not be downplayed or tolerated. This is a clear case where the strength of our democracy begins at home. We must secure our electoral infrastructure and protect our electoral system from subversion.”
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