Tags: George W. Bush | george w bush | nation | divided | causal cruelty

George W. Bush: Nation Divided by 'Casual Cruelty'

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By    |   Thursday, 19 October 2017 04:32 PM

Former President George W. Bush, without mentioning President Donald Trump by name, delivered a stinging rebuke Thursday about the nation's growing isolationism, saying that when combined with discourse that is "degraded by casual cruelty," and interference from Russia, are resulting in division among Americans.

"The American dream of upward mobility seems out of reach for some who feel left behind in a changing economy, discontent deepened and sharpened, partisan conflicts," Bush, speaking in New York City in an appearance sponsored by the George W. Bush Initiative.

"Bigotry seems emboldened," Bush said. "Our politics seem more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication. There are some signs that the intensity of support for democracy itself has waned, especially among the young, who never experienced the galvanizing moral clarity of the Cold War or never focused on the ruin of entire nations by socialist central planning."

The division, said Bush, is a combination of "wariness, frayed tempers, and forgetfulness," and the nation's discourse is "degraded by casual cruelty."

As a result, it seems as if the forces that are pulling apart the nation are stronger than the ones that keep it together.

"Argument turns too easily into animosity," said Bush. "Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions."

The United States, Bush also said Thursday, must "harden its defenses" in the face of external threats, including confronting the threat of cyberattacks.

"According to our intelligence services the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other," said Bush. "This effort is broad, systemic and stealthy ... ultimately, this assault won't succeed. But foreign aggressions, including cyberattacks, disinformation, and financial influence, should never be downplayed or tolerated."

There is also a "fading competence" in the value of free markets and international trade, which often happens when there is a sense of protectionism.

"We've seen the return of isolation sentiments, forgetting that America's security is threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places where terrorism and infectious disease, criminal gangs and drug trafficking tend to emerge," said Bush. "In all these ways, we need to recall and recover our own identity."

But there is a way to renew the country, he insisted: "We only need to remember our values."

The United States also must continue to project American leadership, including maintaining the country's role in "sustaining and defending an international order" that is rooted in freedom and free markets, said Bush, and that includes serving as a "shining hope" for refugees.

"We should not be blind to the economic and social dislocations caused by globalization," Bush said. "People are hurting. They're angry and they're frustrated. Wes must hear and help them, but we cannot wish globalization away any more than we can wish away the Agricultural Revolution or Industrial Revolution."

American workers also must be prepared for new opportunities, with the government unlocking policies that will encourage economic growth.

Bush also called for strengthening democratic citizenship, putting emphasis on the values and views of the young.

"Our identity as a nation, unlike many other nations, is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood," said Bush. "Being an American involves the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility."

And that means, he said, that people of every race, religion, ethnicity, can be fully and equally American," and that "bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed."

Young people also need positive role models, said Bush, making a call against bullying and prejudice on display in "public life."

"[It] sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children," said Bush. "The only ways to pass along civic values is to first live up to them."

Bush's speech comes on the heels of one delivered by Sen. John McCain, who on Monday slammed what he described as "spurious, half-baked nationalism" rising in the United States and elsewhere.

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Former President George W. Bush, without mentioning President Donald Trump by name, delivered a stinging rebuke Thursday about the nation's growing isolationism, saying that when combined with discourse that is "degraded by casual cruelty," and interference from Russia, are...
george w bush, nation, divided, causal cruelty
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2017-32-19
Thursday, 19 October 2017 04:32 PM
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