Back when he was president, I was not a fan of George W. Bush. While I supported the war in Afghanistan and the response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the disastrous war in Iraq and the resulting fallout forever bittered me against him. I watched a number of my military friends go off to war in Iraq, then come home with PTSD. One of those friends, Dan, hung himself in his mother’s closet on Thanksgiving Day in 2005.
Couple that with the smear campaign Karl Rove engaged in to knock John McCain out of the 2000 presidential race, and George W. Bush became my most despised president in recent history.
One thing he did get right is in the aftermath of 9/11, Bush made it a point not to isolate Muslims. President Obama and other Democrats have echoed his message in recent months after a series of radical Islamic terrorist attacks around the world.
“I was very proud after 9/11 when he was adamant and clear about the fact that this is not a war on Islam,” Obama said recently. His message to today’s Republican leaders: “They should follow his example. It was the right one. It was the right impulse.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s top challenger for the Democratic nomination, visited a mosque this month in a show of solidarity that evoked Bush’s after 9/11. And the Democratic National Committee released an ad contrasting comments by the 2016 GOP contenders with footage of Bush declaring that “Islam is peace.” (Source)
Current Republican lawmakers and political pundits could learn from the words of George W. Bush in the days after 9/11. For all of his many faults, Bush had the sense not to vilify all Muslims for the evil deeds of a few radicals.
That was then, and this is a new Republican Party of fear. This is a political party that wants us to be afraid of everyone who isn’t like us, everyone who isn’t a white, heterosexual Christian conservative.
As bad as the jingoistic patriotism after 9/11 was back then, it’s far worse today. Sure, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has proposed banning all Muslims from entering the country, but the people trailing him closest in the Republican polls share most of that same type of anti-Muslim sentiment as well.
George W. Bush’s brother Jeb has tried to launch assaults on the party’s embrace of xenophobia, and has weakly called Donald Trump a “jerk.” What Jeb has failed to realize is that today’s GOP isn’t the same as the party that barely elected his brother twice.
Back then, you could be anti-terrorism but still have Muslim friends. As the years have gone by, the GOP obsession with painting all Muslims as terrorists has reached a fever pitch. This attitude has helped radicalize additional domestic terrorism, both from Muslims and from right-wing conservatives who want them dead or out of this country.
There is a huge problem with bigotry in our country, and it isn’t just with Muslims. We’re a nation founded on immigration, which is what brought my father’s parent here. We’re Americans who have fought and won many wars. It is time that we started acting like it, instead of being easily manipulated by fear and propaganda.
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