Former President George W. Bush called white supremacy "blasphemy against the American creed" during a speech Thursday, saying American identity was not determined by ethnicity or geography.
"Being American involves the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility," Bush said at the George W. Bush institute in New York City. "We've become the heirs of Thomas Jefferson by accepting the ideal of human dignity found in the Declaration of Independence. We've become the heirs of James Madison, by understanding the genius and values of the U.S. Constitution.
"We've become the heirs of Martin Luther King, Jr., by recognizing one another not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
Bush said this meant people of every ethnicity, race and religion can be "fully and equally American."
"It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed," Bush said to loud applause. "And it means the very identity of our nation depends on the passing of civic ideals to the next generation."
Bush threw implicit criticisms at President Donald Trump during his remarks, saying "bullying and prejudice" had become too much a part of public life.
"Our young people need positive role models," he said. "Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children."