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!