By Tad Stahnke, Director of Policy and Programs
Opposition came to a head these last few days against the “Burn a Koran Day” (now canceled). President Obama today condemned the event, General David Petraeus said it could harm our troops, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called it unrepresentative of Americans. Attorney General Eric Holder called it “idiotic and dangerous,” and the Vatican has called the planned demonstration “outrageous and grave.”
Condemning this outrageous event is a start, but it’s critical that we don’t lose sight of the big picture. There have been too many incidents of vandalism and anti-Muslim activity in recent days all over the country.
We need our leaders to speak out against ALL of the anti-Muslim rhetoric that is pervading our political discourse. Former President George W. Bush and members of his administration spoke out for tolerance and freedom of religion during his presidency.
They could make a difference by speaking out now. Will they?
Human Rights First launched an open letter to former President Bush last week. Here’s what we–and over 9,000 of our supporters–have to ask of the former president:
Dear President Bush,
During your presidency, you stood up repeatedly against bigotry and hate and urged all Americans to do the same.
In 2002, you said, “America rejects bigotry. We reject every act of hatred against people of Arab background or Muslim faith. America values and welcomes peaceful people of all faiths–Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, and many others. Every faith is practiced and protected here, because we are one country.”
Thank you for your leadership and your principled opposition to bigotry.
Right now, there’s a dangerous wave of intolerance sweeping the country. It began with the debate over the “Ground Zero Mosque,” but it is no longer only about an Islamic center in Manhattan. There are anti-mosque rallies taking place around the country, reports of arson and gun shots at a mosque in Tennessee, the Internet is filled with bigoted speech, and a church in Florida is planning a Koran burning on September 11th.
To stem this tide, people must speak out in favor of the American values of tolerance, diversity, and religious freedom. Your words will have added weight.
Please lend your voice to the defense of American values.
You can add your name to the letter here.