Where is George W. Bush when America needs him? - Joe Conason
Two former Bush aides speak out bravely in defense of the rights of Muslims, but their old boss remains silent.
For Muslims around the world, George W. Bush and his decision to invade Iraq became symbols of Western arrogance, hostility and even religious supremacy. But neither Bush’s terrible foreign policy nor his personal and political connections with the religious right — where bigotry against Muslims runs rampant — prevented him from speaking out for religious tolerance and freedom on many occasions, especially in the aftermath of Sept. 11. He prided himself on that record, which had roots in his family’s long relationship with the Saudi monarchy.
So why is the former president silent now, when a proposed community center and mosque in lower Manhattan have called forth such vitriol and prejudice from his supporters? Still popular among Republicans and conservatives (who are already seeking to rehabilitate him) Bush could speak out firmly on behalf of the First Amendment rights he has always claimed to uphold. If he were only to issue a statement saying he agrees with President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg that Muslims enjoy the same rights as other Americans — without exception or qualification — then people, especially his people, would have to listen.
Bush’s failure to utter a word so far in defense of principle is highlighted not only by his own past remarks on the same subject, but even more by the courage of his former aides Michael Gerson and Mark McKinnon.