Since the terror attacks in Paris, a political debate has emerged over whether Western nations should consider themselves at war with “radical Islam.” Many have decried that language and its focus on Islam as bigoted, arguing that countries should focus on fighting terrorism and not vilify the world’s second-largest religion. One presidential candidate went a step further by suggesting that the United States should focus only on accepting Christian refugees from war-torn Syria. And Donald Trump said Monday: “You’re gonna have to watch and study the mosques because a lot of talk is going on at the mosques.”
Yet in 2002, a year after 9/11, one artist used his platform to push back against that kind of rhetoric. It was George W. Bush, who took up painting after leaving office and whose oeuvre includes depictions of dogs and world leaders, as well as a shower “self-portrait.” As president, speaking at a Ramadan celebration in Washington, Bush, said that the U.S. was fighting a war against “terrorists—not a religion,” and that “no one should be unfairly judged by appearance or ethnic background, or religious faith.”
This is a portion of what he had to say.