George W. Bush at Iftar: “America must remain a welcoming and tolerant land”


    I can’t believe I’m looking back on George W. Bush with nostalgia, but these words — from a speech to Muslims at the White House on October 17, 2005, just 4 years after 9/11 — make him seem like a raging liberal compared to Palin, Newt-ster, BONE-r, and the rest of today’s Republican Islamophobes and crazies.

    America is fortunate to count such good-hearted men and women among our fellow citizens. We have great respect for the commitment that all Muslims make to faith, family, and education. And Americans of many backgrounds seek to learn more about the rich tradition of Islam. To promote greater understanding between our cultures, I have encouraged American families to travel abroad, to visit with Muslim families. And I have encouraged American families to host exchange students from the Muslim world. I have asked young Americans to study the language and customs of the broader Middle East. And for the first time in our nation’s history, we have added a Koran to the White House Library.

    All of us gathered tonight share a conviction that America must remain a welcoming and tolerant land, in which our people are free to practice any faith they choose. We reject every form of ethnic and religious discrimination. As I said in my second Inaugural Address, we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time.

    Bush also said, “Extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against anyone who does not share their radical vision” and “The killers who take the lives of innocent men, women, and children are followers of a violent ideology very different from the religion of Islam.

    Wow, I’m actually starting to like this Bush guy!

    • Dan Sullivan

      but this is worthy of pause. Note particularly the separation of the terrorists and their violent ideology and any mention of “fundamental Islam” (which is a redundancy within the faith despite the quarrel between Sunni, who claim orthodoxy, and Shi’a). Not even an Islamo-fascist grenade is slung.

    • blue bronc

      That the guy was a real nice guy, the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with. Perhaps it was his compassion and empathy that made people like him.

      As governor, Bush certainly did not stand apart in his routine refusal to deny clemency to death row petitioners, but what does set him apart is the sheer number of executions over which he has presided. Callous indifference to human suffering may also set Bush apart. He may be the only government official to mock a condemned person’s plea for mercy, then lie about it afterward, claiming humane feelings he never felt. On the contrary, it seems that Bush is comfortable with using violent solutions to solve troublesome social and political realities. NYT Book Review of Death In Texas by Sister Prejean

    • kindler

      …I think he really did want to move the Repubs away from their racist history since the Southern strategy began.  He appointed a much more racially diverse cabinet than past Repub presidents (even if the appointees were mostly jerks), courted Muslims and Latinos, and of course pushed immigration reform — only to be rebuked by his own party.

      Tragically, his party does not seem ready to leave ignorance and intolerance behind.  This one area where Bush tried to do some good — with political motives surely — sadly has proven a bitter failure.