Commentary: Remember what George W. Bush said about Islam?

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramSeptember 30, 2012 

Did you see what the president said about Islam?

"Islam is a faith that brings comfort to people."

"The Islam that we know is a faith devoted to the worship of one God, as revealed through the holy Quran. It teaches the value and the importance of charity, mercy, and peace."

"The Muslim faith is based upon peace and love and compassion."

"We see in Islam a religion that traces its origins back to God's call on Abraham. We share your belief in God's justice."

"America rejects bigotry. We reject every act of hatred against people of Arab background or Muslim faith."

"Ours is not a campaign against the Muslim faith."

Yes. That's really what President George W. Bush said.

Now, a few months before his Bush Presidential Library and Museum opens at Southern Methodist University, his words seem forgotten in the middle of a political campaign that is more about dividing America.

Even Republicans don't say it these days, but Bush was right.

Now the question is whether and how Bush's praise for all faiths will be included in his library, which can potentially become both a rich treasure and a controversial one.

A Bush Library spokeswoman declined to comment, saying simply that the exhibit details are not yet complete.

We know that the library is organized around four messages: freedom, opportunity, compassion and responsibility, highlighting Bush not only as a wartime president but also as an education leader and a hero in the global fight against AIDS.

The "freedom" section will include artifacts from 9-11, including the bullhorn Bush used to address rescuers three days later.

The "compassion" section would seem likely to include his message that America supports all faiths and opposes only violence, terrorism and "evil."

It's still too soon to judge Bush, said Joshua Muravchik, an author and international affairs scholar at Johns Hopkins University and a fellow at the Bush Institute, the library's policy think tank.

"He wanted to see the Middle East change and join the modern world, not just in terms of cellphones and jet planes but in terms of democracy and peace," Muravchik said by phone from Washington.

"We're seeing tremendous change, and in the direction that President Bush wanted. But that doesn't guarantee the changes will end up producing freedom and democracy. It will be some years before people will be able to render judgment."

Their study will begin in Texas.

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