“Evil is real.”

Speaking to the students and faculty at Mary Hardin-Baylor University as part of the university’s lecture series, former president George W. Bush was asked about the increasingly violent acts of Islamic terror groups. His three-word response was direct and unequivocal.

President Bush’s concise summation contrasts sharply with President Obama’s refusal to label the terrorist acts targeting Jews, Christians, and Sunni Muslims as “Islamic.”

The honest assessment also underscores the vast difference between the way the issue is framed by the man who faced the first foreign strike on U.S. soil leading the country through the dark days following September 11, 2001 in only his first months in office, and that of presumed presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In December, Clinton made the stunning statement that what she terms, “smart power” requires “showing respect for one’s enemies. Trying to understand, empathize with their perspective and point of view.”

This past week, Bush gave a simple reminder of why he was a steady, reassuring leader as Americans still in shock began mourning the dead and rebuilding. “There is no light grey. Murdering innocent people to move a political point of view has been, is, and always will be evil.”

The former president, often referred to as Bush “43” to distinguish him from his father, George H.W. Bush who served as the 41st president, was also asked during the question and answer period at the university about the attacks in Paris at the satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, and at a kosher deli January.

“The nature of these enemies are the same of those who attacked us on our soil. They strike in order to frighten us who believe in freedom.”

Bush’s message in the days after 9/11 was clear whether it was a promise delivered to the world from the top of the still-smoldering heap that had been the World Trade Center in the heart of Manhattan or the first pitch of the World Series delivered in Yankee Stadium just weeks later.

It remains clear today.


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