Credit to Bush
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Aug 18, 2010 | 2586 views |  11 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Conservatives have taken to leasing billboards to spread their message against the Obama administration.

The template for the billboards is a photo of a smiling former President George W. Bush and a simple caption, "Miss Me Yet?"

The sentiment stands either as a testament to some conservatives' loyalty to Bush or the short attention span of some Americans. Very few would really miss the reckless foreign policy, disregard for regulations over air, water and other citizen protections or the financial policies that in 2008 landed the economy in the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.

Yet, our billboard conservatives get it right in a key area, religious tolerance. Conservative Republicans need a leader like Bush who can tamp down the worst of their impulses.

In the months following 9/11, when the national mood could have been swept into an ugly anti-Muslim viciousness, Bush stepped in. More than once he reminded the nation that "we are not at war with Islam, which most Americans respect as a religion of peace."

That sort of language is deep in the past now, as Islam-bashing is in vogue among countless conservatives, including well-known politicians, talk-show hosts and writers. The most recent manifestation comes in the form of opposition against a proposed mosque and community center near where two airliners hijacked by radical jihadists crashed into the World Trade Center.

Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and others have used stark, intolerant language in scaremongering over the placement of the proposed Cordoba House. They say it's too close to a place where Muslim terrorists killed 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001, and they say it in ways that paint Muslims with a very broad brush.

Gingrich compares the Muslims planning the so-called Ground Zero mosque to "Nazis." Palin called it a "provocation." Huckabee asks, "Is it just that we can offend Americans and Christians, but not foreigners and Muslims?"

In the 18 months since Bush retired to private life in Texas, the lid he kept on the Islam-bashers in his party has clearly slipped. Republicans are playing to far-right anger in ways they didn't while Bush was president.

It's a credit to Bush that he kept this sort of religious intolerance deep in the basement during his time in office.
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Credit to Bush by The Anniston Star Editorial Board

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