George W Bush, the former president of the United States, delivered remarks today at the George W Bush Institute in New York. The following is our written transcription of his speech.
A few highlights
… 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. And it means the very identity of our nation depends on the passing of civic ideals to the next generation. We need a renewed emphasis on civic learning in schools, and our young people need positive role models. 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.
… Our democracy needs a media that is transparent, accurate, and fair. Our democracy needs religious institutions that demonstrate integrity and champion civil discourse. Our democracy needs institutions of higher learning that are examples of truth and free expression. In short, it is time for American institutions to step up and provide cultural and moral leadership.
… America must harden its own defenses. Our country must show resolve and resilience in the face of external attacks on our democracy. And that begins with confronting a new era of cyber-threats. America has experienced a sustained attempt by a hostile power to feed and exploit our country’s divisions. According to our intelligence service, the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other. This effort is broad, systemic, and stealthy. It’s conducted across a range of social media platforms. Ultimately, this assault won’t succeed.
… We’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization. Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions, forgetting the image of God, which we see in each other. We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism and forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America. … We’ve seen the return of isolationist sentiments, forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places, where threats such as terrorism, infectious disease, criminal gangs, and drug trafficking tend to emerge.