I don’t agree with Giuliani on this. I think Park51 should be built — and in the location chosen by the private developers, which is not at Ground Zero but two blocks north of it. But there’s a difference between Giuliani and his fellow Republicans who have waded in on this issue. While he’s asking tough, edgy questions of the project’s backers, he’s doing so without engaging in the needlessly inflammatory and divisive rhetoric that makes a mockery of everyone’s professed support of freedom of religion.

Now that Giulaini has broken his silence, it’s time for another one to do so. Calling George W. Bush.

***
President Obama caused a stir with his speech at a White House iftar stating that Muslims had the same religious freedom as every other community in America. President Bush used to host White House iftars too. I believe, if he were President today, Bush would have given the same speech. I wish he would emerge from his ranch in Texas to give it now.

***
Without the steadying hand of a leader like Bush to hold back the floodgates of anti-Islamic rhetoric, Republicans have descended into the sort of political scapegoating of Islam that the country has largely avoided for the past nine years.

As a lifelong Democrat, there is something deeply counterintuitive about describing George W. Bush as the voice of reason and tolerance in the Republican party. And yet here we are. It seems that things just aren’t the same in America without him.

***