Harrisburg, PA – Visiting Whatman Elementary School to promote after-school literacy programs, President Bush warned the children there that they are in, “Grave, never-ending danger.” The president made the remarks during a group read-along, where the children sat on the floor, surrounding President Bush, who was seated in a chair. Mrs. Bush was also in attendance. The children took turns reading aloud from the book, I Have Friends of All Kinds.
“Literacy is good. It’s wonderful,” Bush said. “But it doesn’t make you safe from radical Islamic terrorists who want to blow you to little bits. The only thing that can protect you from that is your government, and to constantly live on edge, so you’re always at the ready. But anyway, go on. Keep reading the story.”
But the child who was supposed to read next, William Chambers, suddenly burst into tears and had to be escorted out of the room. President Bush took the opportunity to reiterate his point.
“You see?” Bush asked the stunned, and now terrified, children. “He gets it. That boy may be on the heavy side, and he may wear glasses, but knows he should be terrified. And I applaud him for acknowledging it. That’s the first step.”
Cassandra Watkins, age nine, then said, “I think you scared him, though. With what you said.”
“Oh, I did?” Bush asked her. “Are you sure it was me, and not radical Islam?”
Cassandra looked at Bush for a moment, then shrugged her shoulders.
“See? You don’t know,” Bush said. “You don’t know.”
President Bush attempted to take William’s place and read his part of the story, but he struggled with some of the words and stopped. He closed the book and looked intently at the children. Then he said, “You know, kids, I like this story. It’s a good story. You should have different kinds of friends. But even though I can’t read it, I bet it’s going to leave something out: that if one of your friends is a radical Islamic fundamentalist, he’s not really your friend. He’s your enemy. And that’s important to remember.
“So what are the two things we learned today? One, that you should always, always be terrified of radical Islamic terrorists who could blow you to pieces at any moment, and two, that you have to make sure none of your friends are Islamic radicals. Okay? Okay. I think this was a good day. And keep reading. That’s important, too. Because reading can come in handy, if you manage to live to be an adult.”