Former president George W Bush has launched a thinly veiled but hard-hitting attack on Donald Trump’s administration.
Mr Bush said bigotry, white supremacy and falsehoods were coarsening the tone of the US and threatening its democracy.
In a speech in New York, Mr Bush said: “Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.”
Although he did not mention the president by name, Mr Bush was clearly criticising the current administration and its controversial policies.
Mr Bush said: “Bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.”
He said argument “turns too easily into animosity,” and “disagreement escalates into dehumanisation”.
Republican Mr Bush has remained tight-lipped on his thoughts about Mr Trump since he won the White House last November, unlike his Democratic successor Barack Obama.
In his speech at the Bush Institute’s Spirit of Liberty, Mr Bush, 71, went on: “We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism and forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America.
“We’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together.”
Mr Bush said there was “fading confidence” in free markets and international trade and noted the “return of isolationist sentiments” in the country.
He said that while it was important not to ignore the concerns of people whose jobs may have been lost to global economic forces, “we cannot wish globalisation away”.
Mr Bush also stressed the importance of welcoming refugees and dissidents to US shores and called for the country to pass its civic ideals on to the next generation.
He added: “Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.”
Mr Bush’s attack comes days after a speech by another major Republican national figure Senator John McCain who appeared to rebuke Mr Trump’s ideas and politics.
Mr McCain attacked what he described as “half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems”.