Former President George W. Bush indicated he considers President Trump’s recent executive order a “Muslim ban” and opposes efforts to infringe upon anyone’s freedom to worship, an analysis that one immigration experts suggests is evidence Bush doesn’t know what is in the policy and is continuing with his narrative that anyone killing in the name of Islam cannot be a Muslim.
Bush appeared on NBC’s ‘Today’ show to promote his new book, “Portraits of Courage,” but soon found himself immersed in a conversation about the president, the press and Trump’s temporary pause on immigration from seven nations suffering from the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism.
‘Today’ host Matt Lauer began the discussion of the executive order by quoting Bush’s positive portrayal of Islam following the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
“That’s very different talk than what we’re hearing today about a Muslim ban,” said Lauer. “Do you think the president’s position on this has been well thought out?”
“It’s important for all of us to recognize one of our great strengths is for people to worship the way they want to or not worship at all. A bedrock of our freedom is the right to worship freely,” Bush responded.
Bush later said he supported an “immigration policy that is welcoming and upholds the law.”
Center for Immigration Reform Executive Director Mark Krikorian says Bush’s focus on the freedom to worship suggests he’s not all that familiar with Trump’s executive order.
“He still misunderstands what the struggle is and specifically about the travel ban he didn’t push back against Lauer’s comment that this was a Muslim ban. How can it be a Muslim ban if it only covers 10 or 12 percent of the world’s Muslims. He hasn’t been keeping up with the news and he really shouldn’t be commenting on it if he hasn’t,” said Krikorian.
But Bush wasn’t done.
“I understood right off the bat, Matt, that this was an ideological conflict and people who murder the innocent are not religious people. They want to advance an ideology,” said Bush.
Krikorian says Bush sees the threat in much the same way former President Barack Obama does.
“Even President Obama made these points about how if you’re a terrorist killing innocent people, you’re not religious. Well, that’s completely misunderstanding what it means. Who are we to say that a terrorist acting in the name of Islam doesn’t understand what Islam is?” asked Krikorian.
“Former President Bush would have been correct in saying that sort of violent perspective on Islam is not the only way to see it, that there are many Muslims who reject it. But he steps over the line, and Obama did this too, when he said that other perspectives of Islam that see it legitimately as killing infidels are not really Islam,” said Krikorian.
Krikorian is also keeping a close eye out for Trump’s revised executive order banning travel from the seven nations with significant terrorism problems. He expects the new order to carve out exceptions for anyone holding green cards.
He says the massive fight over the order is largely a distraction from the real fight over which branch of government gets to establish immigration policy.
“It’s only 90 days for seven countries. What this is really about is whether the elected representatives of the people or the judges get to decide who moves to the United States,” said Krikorian, who says the statutory power clearly gives authority to Congress, which allows the president to ban any alien or class of alien he wants.
He says the left wants that power to be in the hands of judges.
“This is something that the anti-borders people, whether on the right or on the left, have been pushing for for years, where every single visa decision – everything – would be decided by judges ultimately. That’s not what the law says,” said Krikorian.
“The courts suspending that old executive order were acting lawlessly. It was literally an illegal act by those judges,” said Krikorian.