By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
The latest issue of the New York Times Magazine tracks the controversy at Southern Methodist University over the school's decision to house George W. Bush's presidential library. How ironic is it that opposition to the library of the most faith-based president in modern times is itself faith-based—and grounded in Bush's own Methodist tradition? Here's the Times Magazine on the opposition's ringleaders, who are attached to SMU's school of theology:
Some members of the S.M.U. community, who had not found the prospect of housing the Bush center terribly appealing in mid-2005, now viewed it with horror. In November 2006, William McElvaney, a United Methodist minister and former faculty member, now retired, at S.M.U.'s Perkins School of Theology, and a younger colleague, Susanne Johnson, wrote an article in The Daily Campus, the school paper, that bluntly asked: "Do we want S.M.U. to benefit financially from a legacy of massive violence, destruction and death brought about by the Bush presidency in dismissal of broad international opinion?"
You can read the McElvaney's and Johnson's full op-ed here. Here's the heart of it:
That said, what does it mean ethically to say that regardless of an administration's record and its consequences, it makes no difference when considering a bid for the library? What does it mean ethically for SMU to say a war violating international law makes no difference? That a pre-emptive war based on false premises, misleading the American public, and destined to cost more American lives in Iraq than the 9-11 terrorist attack makes no difference? That the death of thousands of innocent Iraqis by our "shock and awe" bombing in the name of democracy, verified by international organizations and Iraqi doctors, is of no consequence?
These realities are not about partisan politics. Rather we are concerned with deep ethical issues which transcend politics. Do we want SMU to benefit financially from a legacy of massive violence, destruction, and death brought about by the Bush presidency in dismissal of broad international opinion?
What moral justification supports SMU's providing a haven for a legacy of environmental predation and denial of global warming, shameful exploitation of gay rights, and the most critical erosion of habeas corpus in memory?
Read the full New York Times Magazine article here.