Posted by on August 30, 2010 in Blog

In a political climate where it may be expedient to remain silent, 5 former Bush Administration staff members have spoken out against the charged rhetoric aimed at stopping the proposed Muslim Cultural Center in Lower Manhattan. As is important to do with examples of principled courage in times of division in our national political discourse, we would like to highlight their statements: 

Michael Gerson, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush – "A president not only serves Muslim citizens, not only commands Muslims in the American military, but leads a coalition that includes Iraqi & Afghan Muslims who risk death each day fighting Islamic radicalism at our side. How could he possibly tell them that their place of worship inherently symbolizes the triumph of terror?" [Politico, 8/18/10]

Joe Scarborough, former Republican Congressman from Florida & Mark McKinnon, former Bush advisor – commenting on Newt Gingrich’s Mosque statements. "This is madness, there are elements of our party marching through fevered swamps of ideology" This sends a horrific statement across the world.” [] "When I was in Congress in 1994, when I got elected in '94, I was considered to be one of the more conservative guys up there," Scarborough said. "I am feeling further and further distant from the people who are running my party." For [Gingrich] "to suggest that someone trying to build a -- a tolerant center for moderate Muslims in New York is the equivalent of killing six million Jews is stunning to me. It's stunning and it is so contrary to our country's principle and the Republican party." Former Bush advisor Mark McKinnon agreed, then added, "I'm glad to see we're together on this and unfortunately I think we may get our membership revoked at the Pachyderm Club." "Screw 'em," interrupted Scarborough. [‘Screw’ GOP if I’m booted for defending mosque, MSNBC, 8/16/10]

Ted Olson, the Bush administration's Solicitor General and 9/11 widower – “…we don't want to turn an act of hate against us by extremists into an act of intolerance for people of religious faith. And I don't think it should be a political issue. It shouldn't be a Republican or Democrat issue either. I believe Governor Christie from New Jersey said it as well, that this should not be in that political partisan marketplace." [Politico, 8/18/10 ]

Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations and former Director Policy Planning in the Bush administration's State Department
– "The anti-American aspect of this -- this has now become an international issue. One of the great ironies is the people doing this mosque, this community center, want to develop an American version of Islam that competes around the world with the Wahhabi -- with the Saudi intolerant version of Islam. So this issue now is being watched around the world to prove or to see whether Muslims in America have rights, have opportunities that Muslims in lots of other countries don't. So this has actually become an important aspect of our battle for the hearts and minds." [Media Matters, 8/16/10]

Lawrence Wilkerson, Retired Army colonel and Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell in the Bush administration – "It is like offering your opponent two or three whips with which to beat you... The impact on our military people would be injurious if we say 'no.' It would put another instrument in the hands of those who want to exploit the fear that Americans are at war with Islam and not the radical elements within it." [Media Matters, 8/16/10]