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Could George W. Bush End the Mosque Madness?

Many are surprised to say yes

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With many Republicans doubling down on their opposition to the Islamic cultural center planned for lower Manhattan, a culture-war campaign has spurred protests against mosques and Islamic centers across the country. Many liberals are now embracing former President George W. Bush, who was always careful to reiterate his support for religious freedom for Muslim-Americans. President Barack Obama has supported the NYC center, though with somewhat measured language. How would former President Bush handle this debate? And should he get involved now?

  • Bush Has 'Obligation' to Get Involved The New York Times' Maureen Dowd writes, "it is odd to see Barack Obama less clear about this matter than his predecessor. It's time for W. to weigh in. This -- along with immigration reform and AIDS in Africa -- was one of his points of light. As the man who twice went to war in the Muslim world, he has something of an obligation to add his anti-Islamophobia to this mosque madness. W. needs to get his bullhorn back out."
  • Bush Would Be 'Helpful' Here The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson, a staunch liberal, writes, "I, too, would love to hear from former president Bush on this issue. He held Ramadan iftar dinners in the White House as part of a much broader effort to show that our fight against the al-Qaeda murderers who attacked us on 9/11 was not a crusade against Islam. He was absolutely right on this point, and it would be helpful to hear his views."
  • 'A Task for George W. Bush'  The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg writes, "I would hope -- especially now that he is finished writing his book -- that he would speak out for Muslim enfranchisement in America, in particular in the wake of the 'Ground Zero' mosque controversy. He should let American Muslims know that he accepts them as equal citizens under law, and that all Americans, but particularly members of his own party, should do the same. This is an important task, and I believe that George W. Bush is the best man for it."
  • Bush 'Respected All Religion' The Daily Beast's Peter Beinart writes, "Words I never thought I'd write: I pine for George W. Bush. Whatever his flaws, the man respected religion, all religion. Maybe it was because he had been an addict himself, and knew from hanging around prisons that Allah had saved as many broken souls as Jesus Christ"
  • Bush Gets This Better Than Obama The Washington Examiner's Byron York says the pro-Bush sentiment has come "because in this case Bush understands better than Obama the connection between the war on terror and the larger question of America's relationship with Islam. It's an extraordinary change of position for commentators who long argued that Bush had done grievous harm to America's image in the Muslim world and that Obama represented a fresh start for the United States. Nevertheless, they are now seeing a different side of the former president." Karl Rove tells York, "redemption is always available for liberals and time causes even the most stubborn of ideologues to revisit mistaken judgments."
  • This Proves Bush Was Right About Invading Iraq  Conservative blogger Ed Morrissey makes a curious leap. "If Bush was inclined to comment on the situation, he may very well echo Obama, or at least talk about the compatibility of liberty and moderate Islam. After all, the entire exercise in Iraq was and is predicated on the notion that Islam and democracy are not incompatible, a point that some enraged by the Ground Zero mosque seem to have forgotten. ... If a mosque in New York City is incompatible with freedom, as a small subset of those opposed to the GZM claim, then the entire exercise in Iraq makes no sense at all."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.