This week, President Obama and Vice President Biden both lauded several aspects of George Bush’s tenure as the Forty-Third President of the United States. They praised his consistent honoring of U.S. troops and his post-9/11 outreach to and unequivocal stance in support of the Muslim community.
Today, President Obama responded to the growing wave of anti-Muslim rhetoric by issuing a plea for religious tolerance in a passionate speech that also mentioned George Bush’s accomplishment. Obama said that “One of the things that I most admired about President Bush was, after 9/11, him being crystal clear about the fact that we were not at war with Islam.”
Vice President Joe Biden went on the Colbert Report earlier this week and thanked Mr. Bush for his commitment to the United States military. “You deserve a lot of credit, Mr. President,” Biden said.
Do these reflections by Biden and Obama open the door for President Bush to speak out for religious tolerance on the upcoming anniversary of September 11th? As Americans have slipped into a divisive debate over the U.S. position vis-à-vis the Muslim world and, alarmingly, the place of Muslims in the American society, President Bush’s reaffirmation of tolerance and inclusion would have an added weight.
Nine thousand Americans co-signed Human Rights First’s Open Letter to President Bush, asking him to stand up against bigotry and hate. The blogosphere is likewise filled with calls for him to reappear on the public scene and address the controversy surrounding ‘burn-the-Koran’ day or the ‘Ground Zero mosque’. There’s an opportunity here for George Bush to be a real ‘uniter’ — he should take advantage of it. Not only the Muslim community, but the entire U.S., is waiting for him to do so.
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