Shortly after Obama's inauguration, this poster started to appear around the US asking people if they missed Bush yet. The implication was supposed to be that Obama was so bad that we would all come to yearn for the return of the Decider.
And yet, when one looks at the rampant Muslim-bashing currently running wild across the Republican party one does find oneself remembering that Bush somehow kept a lid on the worst aspects of this party, by stating things like this:
"Here in the United States our Muslim citizens are making many contributions in business, science and law, medicine and education, and in other fields. Muslim members of our Armed Forces and of my administration are serving their fellow Americans with distinction, upholding our nation's ideals of liberty and justice in a world at peace."
Remarks by the President on Eid Al-Fitr"Islam is a faith that brings comfort to people. It inspires them to lead lives based on honesty, and justice, and compassion."
The Islamic Center of Washington, D.C.
December 5, 2002
Remarks by President George W. Bush on U.S. Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan"America rejects bigotry. We reject every act of hatred against people of Arab background or Muslim faith America values and welcomes peaceful people of all faiths -- Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and many others. Every faith is practiced and protected here, because we are one country. Every immigrant can be fully and equally American because we're one country. Race and color should not divide us, because America is one country."
Presidential Hall, Dwight David Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Washington, D.C.
October 11, 2002
President George W. Bush Promotes Compassionate Conservatism
Parkside Hall, San Jose, California
April 30, 2002
With Bush gone, the Republican party - looking for some wedge issue with which to force the American people to reject Obama - have turned to outright Islamophobia, led by Gingrich, Palin, Limbaugh and a bunch of others.
They now define Islam as the enemy and they and their supporters now openly make arguments condemning an entire religion rather than some of it's more extremist members.
It's gone as far as this:
Of course Palin, Gingrich and the others are careful never to go as far as Terry Jones has gone; they instead speak to "decent" Muslims, by asking them to give up their religious freedoms in order to prove their "decency".
A Florida church, Dove World Outreach Centre, is planning a "burn the Qur'an" day on September 11 and has already outraged Muslims by planting a sign on its front lawn that reads: Islam is the Devil.
The church's senior pastor, Terry Jones, has said he is "exposing Islam for what it is".
"It is a violent and oppressive religion that is trying to masquerade itself as a religion of peace, seeking to deceive our society," the church said. "Islam is a lie based upon lies and deceptions and fear. In Muslim countries, if you preach the gospel or convert to Christianity – you will be killed. That is the type of religion it is."
But they are all drinking out of the same well and the Ground Zero mosque is simply giving them cover to push their anti-Muslim message.
Bush was always very careful to emphasise that he was fighting a war on terror, not a war against Islam. The broken Republican party he has left behind are not clever enough to make that distinction.
John Esposito, director of the Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, said many Americans shared Jones's views. He said the dispute over the proposed mosque had given cover for more open hostility unleashed after the 9/11 attacks that was evident during the last presidential election when some of Barack Obama's opponents attempted to portray him as a Muslim.
"The World Trade Centre thing has shown that what has been up to now seen as a local issue has gone global and provided an umbrella so that suddenly people feel freer to go public with their objections to Muslims," he said.
"Historically we've had problems in Mississippi or Georgia or New York or wherever when someone wants to establish a mosque.
"The cover for opposition used to be that people will say: we're not really prejudiced but it'll affect the traffic in the area, not facing the fact that it is very common if you have a significant number of Jews or Protestants or Catholics to expect that they're going to want to have a synagogue or a church and chances are the town's going to go along with it."
But today, Americans increasingly no longer shy away from saying they oppose mosques on the grounds that Muslims are a threat or different.
In New York, a group called the American Freedom Defence Initiative is placing adverts on New York buses showing a plane flying into one of the World Trade Centre towers and what it calls a "Mega Mosque" and asking "Why There?".
The Republican party, masquerading as the defenders of the US after 9-11, are now indulging in rampant Islamophobia. I mean, when Gingrich promises to prevent states adopting Sharia law, a law which no state is even remotely thinking of adopting, then he is simply stoking fears. Fear of the "other". Of people who don't look the way he and Palin do.
Opposition to a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, intensified after Republican candidates for Congress and state governor made opposition part of their campaigns.
Sarah Palin, the former vice presidential candidate, has been a vocal opponent of the controversial New York mosque.
Other prominent politicians have cast the net wider. Newt Gingrich, the Republican former speaker of the House of Representatives, who is thought likely to make a run for president, has warned that Muslims are attempting to impose sharia law in the US and that it poses a "mortal threat to freedom" in America.
Gingrich said that he would push for legislation to prevent states from adopting sharia law even though none are proposing it and there is no likely prospect of it happening.
George Bush would never have done this. So, it's not us who will miss him, but the Republican party will. For in a country with as large an Hispanic population as the US has, the party who campaigns on fear of the "other" really is heading into very dangerous waters.
George Bush's party have descended into the kind of hate speech which he was always very careful to avoid. This might play well amongst the insane brigade which now represents the runt of the Republican base, but one can't help feel that the rest of the US will loudly reject this xenophobic nonsense.
"Islamophobia is not just about religion. It's about people who are of colour and a whole set of presuppositions about these people," he said.
"You can see it not only with Muslims but with Mexicans, people who look Hispanic. Now we have hard data from Gallup and Pew that demonstrate in America how integrated the vast majority of Muslims are – economically, politically and religiously. And yet a significant number of Americans can be appealed to in what is nothing less than hate speech, the same hate speech directed against immigrants."
Click here for full article.