Tuesday, June 24, 2008

(October 17, 2005: Bush, announcing placing Muslim holy book in the White House.)

Will McCain Keep Koran in White House Library,
If Elected President?

Today's New York Times prints an article that delves into Barack Obama's complex relationship with Muslim-American voters and it jogged my memory about something to do with George Bush and the Koran.

Back in October 2005 Bush added the added to the shelves of the White House library. He announced this expansion of the library's holdings at a formal White House dinner for Muslims during the Ramadan holiday.

This stuck in my memory not just because the Worst President Ever was making nice with Muslim-Americans and placing their holy book in the people's house, that was easy to comprehend. What was jarring was the association of Bush with a library. Two entities not on the most friendly of terms.

From the transcript of his 2005 remarks:

To promote greater understanding between our cultures, I have encouraged American families to travel abroad, to visit with Muslim families. And I have encouraged American families to host exchange students from the Muslim world. I have asked young Americans to study the language and customs of the broader Middle East. And for the first time in our nation's history, we have added a Koran to the White House Library. (Applause.)

I blogged about this interesting religious and political development at the time, and noted that the mainstream media had ignored the significance of adding the Koran to the White House premises. My gut told me that hard-right pundits and conservative Christians wouldn't be at all pleased with what Bush had done, but if those political forces were aware of this, they were muted in their reaction, and the press never took note of Bush's small, but potentially controversial action.

Now, with Obama facing tough challenges and questions about his (awkward) courtship of Muslim voters, including carefully creating his general image for the voters, and not allowing two women in Muslim garb to be in the background as he delivered a speech, I think in the interests of fairness and political balance, John McCain should be asked a few Muslim-related questions.

Let's start with, if elected to the Oval Office, will he retain or remove the Koran from the White House book shelves? Has he read it and would he consult the Koran, when making policy decisions related to the Middle East region?

The placing of the Koran in the library was of such diplomatic value, and a rare chance to show the Arab world the Bush administration was not at war with Islam, that Karen Hughes, when she was running the State Department's public diplomacy office, highlighted it in talks with reporters from Muslim countries.

There's much time between now and November. All those reporters covering the presidential race need something to write about, why not ask McCain a few questions about his views on the Koran and its place in the White House.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't the two women who were not allowed to stand behind Omaba were Muslim. Most likely, they were GOP plants who wanted to be in the TV picture next to Omaba in order to strengthen the rumors that he is a Muslim.