WASHINGTON — Former President George W. Bush condemned bigotry and white supremacy Thursday morning while endorsing policies that run counter to those supported by President Donald Trump.
“Our identity as a nation, unlike other nations, is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood. … This means that people from every race, religion, ethnicity can be full and equally American,” he said during remarks at the George W. Bush Institute in New York City. “It means that bigotry and white supremacy, in any form, is blasphemy against the American creed.”
He added that “bigotry seems emboldened,” though he didn’t explain why.
“We’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty,” Bush said, adding, “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.”
Bush didn’t mention Trump during his remarks, but in his recommendations to strengthen American democracy, he said US institutions must “step up” and “we need to recall and recover our own identity.”
He brought up growing concerns over misinformation, saying politics seems “more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.”
The 43rd president also addressed Russian influence on the United States.
“The Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other,” he said, adding that while Russian interference will not be successful, “foreign aggressions, including cyberattacks, disinformation and financial influence, should never be downplayed or tolerated.”
Bush, who left the presidential section of his ballot blank instead of voting for Trump, said the United States has seen “nationalism distort into nativism,” later adding that “we cannot wish globalization away.”
The former president also addressed concerns over bulling among American leaders.
“Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children, the only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them,” he said.