by Jack Landsman, Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 03:12:39 PM EDT
Speaking of the Cordoba Games, the ceaseless controversy over this thing has occasioned the return of a vintage character from Bushworld: Karen Hughes. In what is certain to be the former president speaking through an emissary, Ms. Hughes took to the pages of the Washington Post to civilly aid opposition to the Ground Zero mosque.
The proposed site of Park51, an Islamic cultural center that will include a mosque, is especially contentious because it goes to the heart of who is to blame for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. I stood in the Oval Office just two days after those horrific attacks as President George W. Bush spoke by telephone with New York Gov. George Pataki and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He highlighted the importance of distinguishing between those who committed the acts of terror and the broader Muslim community. "Our nation must be mindful that there are thousands of Arab Americans who live in New York City, who love their flag just as much as the three of us do, and we must be mindful that as we seek to win the war that we treat Arab Americans and Muslims with the respect they deserve," the president said.
Days later, I recommended to President Bush that he visit a mosque to set an example of respect for our fellow Americans who are Muslim. With anger still high and emotions raw, some argued against the visit to the Islamic Center of Washington, but the president felt it sent an important signal. "America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country," he said that day. "In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect."
In the decadence of his old age, George W. Bush appears to have receded into the kinder, gentler conservatism of Peggy Noonan, his father’s Karen Hughes. Good Lord.
… I became convinced that our nation should avoid the language of religion in our discussion of terrorist acts. When Americans say "Islamic" in front of "terrorists" or use religious terms such as "jihadist," many Muslims hear those words as an attack on their faith. Some of my fellow Republicans and conservatives have accused me of political correctness on this point, but that is not my rationale at all. I believe it is in America's strategic interest, and in the interest of defeating terrorism, that we make clear that we view most Muslims as our allies in a common struggle against extremists.
This sort of waspy condescension perfectly captures the compassionate—or nicer and softer or whatevs—conservatism of the Bushes. Ms. Hughes is very concerned that our sloppy designations for the mass murderers of 9/11 wound the sensibilities of good Muslims. (They exist!) Orly? While we all can’t be well-traveled courtiers to presidents like Karen Hughes, it only requires a modicum of intuition and common sense to know that normal, or “moderate,” Muslims are probably more animated by specific foreign policies than the American public’s linguistic sloppiness. Nice try, Karen.