We’d been wondering when Bush administration officials were going to step forward to remind everyone who is worked in a tizzy over the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York City that the project’s booster did international religious outreach for the United States.
The answer came — sort of — this weekend, when Karen Hughes penned a Washington Post op-ed saying that organizers should “move the mosque.”
Hughes sounds many of the same notes we’ve heard frequently from opponents over the last few weeks. But what struck us is that Hughes failed to mention her own work with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf as he was dispatched around the globe to discuss the Islamic faith in America on behalf of the Bush administration.
At the request of Bush’s State Department, where Hughes worked on Muslim outreach in the midst of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Rauf attended the 2006 U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar and in 2007 went to Morocco. Rauf has traveled side-by-side with Hughes, who held the position of Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy. He’s currently on a trip abroad doing outreach for President Obama’s administration.
As TPM has reported, Hughes set up listening tours that included Rauf.
Here’s what Hughes said about Rauf in her op-ed:
That’s why I believe it is so important that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his congregation make what I fully understand would be a very difficult choice: to locate their mosque elsewhere. Putting the mosque at a different site would demonstrate the uncommon courtesy sometimes required for us to get along in our free and diverse society.
I recognize that I am asking the imam and his congregation to show a respect that has not always been accorded to them. But what a powerful example that decision would be. Many people worry that this debate threatens to deepen resentments and divisions in America; by choosing a different course, Rauf could provide a path toward the peaceful relationships that he and his fellow Muslims strive to achieve. And this gesture of goodwill could lead us to a more thoughtful conversation to address some of the ugliness this controversy has engendered.
Her former boss George W. Bush has indicated he will be staying mum.
Last week, Hughes declined to be interviewed through a spokeswoman. We’re also still waiting to hear from Colin Powell, James Glassman and Condoleezza Rice.