Presidential Library? No Thanks!

As President Bush begins to think about life after being the most powerful chimp in the world, he has to find a site for his Presidential Library.

Erecting a Presidential Library has become a time-honored tradition for former Presidents. After 4 to 8 years in office, Presidents need a place to pack off all their notes and photos and gifts. A Presidential Library made perfect sense when President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the first one in Hyde Park, New York, in 1939.

But now, when rental mini-storage facilities are available in every corner of the country, why raise $500 million and hire architects to design and build a fancy schmancy museum to hold all the junk?

And what if you’re the worst President of all time? Who wants THAT President’s library in their home town? That’s the scenario President Bush may be facing.

Southern Methodist University

Since Southern Methodist University became the frontrunner on the short list of potential sites for the Invading Decider’s library, the faculty, administrators, and staff of the university’s Perkins School of Theology sent a letter to SMU’s president. The letter in part says the signers would:

…regret to see SMU enshrine attitudes and actions widely deemed as ethically egregious: degradation of habeas corpus, outright denial of global warming, flagrant disregard for international treaties, alienation of long-term U.S. allies, environmental predation, shameful disrespect for gay persons and their rights, a pre-emptive war based on false and misleading premises, and a host of other erosions of respect for the global human community and for this good Earth on which our flourishing depends.

SMU is a private university in Dallas, founded in 1911 by what is now the United Methodist Church. Although President Bush is a member of the United Methodist Church, he failed to acknowledge his own church in September when it helped launch a week of protest and civil disobedience against the war in Iraq by signing a declaration of peace urging the President to pull U.S. troops out of the country.

On the pro-library side of the fence, a Presidential Library would bring instant tourists and economic energy to SMU. According to figures from the National Archive, attendance tends to spike in the opening year, and again upon the president’s death. That’s good news for the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, which already sees tourists line up to visit The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.

Also, First Lady Laura Bush is a SMU graduate and member of its board of trustees. The first lady has indicated that she and the worst President in history will spend their post-White House life between their ranch in Crawford and a home in Dallas.

Visit a Presidential Library

Existing Presidential Libraries can be visited, online or in person, here:

[tags]Bush, SMU, Presidential Library, Iraq, war, United Methodist Church[/tags]

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7 Responses to Presidential Library? No Thanks!

  1. James says:

    His library should be built in Iraq. Say somewhere in the Anbar province or Sadr City in Baghdad.

  2. Lynne says:

    I’ve heard the new W library design is smaller and simpler: made of wood with a crescent shape cutout on the front door.

  3. Joe says:

    Lynne: LOL! This administration’s notes are deserving of such storage (after they’ve been used for evidence to convict, that is…)

  4. Andrew Weaver says:

    Methodism, Torture and the Presidential Library

    Methodism began as an 18th century spiritual renewal movement in the Church of England. At the time of the American Revolution only a few hundred Americans identified with Methodism. By the Civil War, Methodism was by far the largest church in the United States with one in three church members calling it their faith community. No other institution has done more good in shaping the ethos of American religion and culture than the Methodist Church.

    Southern Methodist University is one of 123 educational institutions that are related to the modern day United Methodist Church. SMU is the only major university that has Methodist in the name. Because of this fact we were particularly troubled to read the November 27, 2006, report by United Press International that associates of George W. Bush are in the process of raising $500 million for his presidential library and think tank at SMU.

    Anyone who thinks that the name Methodism or Southern Methodist University should be associated with George W. Bush needs to read the book, Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity, and the War on Terror by Dr. Steven Miles, professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota.

    Professor Miles has based this volume on painstaking research and highly-credible sources, including eyewitness accounts, army criminal investigations, FBI debriefings of prisoners, autopsy reports, and prisoners’ medical records. These documents tell a story strikingly different from the Bush administration version presented to the American people, revealing involvement at every level of government, from the Presbyterian Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to prison health-care personnel. The book also shows how the highest officials of government are complicit in this pattern of torture, including Episcopal Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, United Methodist Vice President Dick Cheney and United Methodist President George W. Bush.

    While much of the use of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency and Special Forces troops remains concealed, Dr. Miles documents how nineteen prisoners have been tortured to death by American military personnel. The book tells of an Afghan prisoner named Dilawar, an innocent 22-year-old, who drove his taxi to the wrong place at the wrong time. At the U.S. detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, in December 2002, Dilawar was smothered, shackled and then suspended by his arms. When he was beaten with a baton, he cried out “Allah, Allah,” which amused the soldiers and triggered more merciless blows. The official report reads that he was beaten over a five day period until his legs were, in the words of the coroner, “pulpified.” He was then chained to the ceiling of his cell, where he died. Although an autopsy stated that Dilawar’s death was a homicide, General Daniel McNeil told reporters that Dilawar had died of natural causes on the grounds that one of his coronary arteries was partly occluded. The words “coronary artery disease” were typed in a different font on the prisoner’s death certificate.

    Up to 90 percent of the prisoners detained in the Bush “war on terror” have been found to be unjustifiably imprisoned and without intelligence value. In addition, much of the hideous work of torture is out-sourced by the Bush administration to countries like Uzbekistan, Syria and Egypt, where torture is a long-standing and common practice. In July 2004, the British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, who grew up in a devout Methodist home, protested the Uzbek intelligence service’s interrogation practices: “Tortured dupes are forced to sign up to confessions showing what the Uzbek government wants the U.S. and U.K. to believe. . . . This material is useless — we are selling our souls for dross.”

    Torture is a crime against humanity and a violation of every human rights treaty in existence, including the Geneva Conventions which prohibit cruel and degrading treatment of detainees. Torture is as profound a moral issue in our day as was slavery in the 19th century. It represents a betrayal of our deepest human and religious values as a civilized society.

    David Hackett Fischer describes in his Pulitzer Prize winning book, Washington’s Crossing, how thousands of American prisoners of war were “treated with extreme cruelty by British captors,” during the Revolutionary War. There are numerous accounts of injured soldiers who surrendered being murdered and Americans dying in prison ships in New York harbor of starvation and torture.

    After crossing the Delaware River and winning his first battle at Trenton, New Jersey, on Christmas Day, 1776, George Washington ordered his troops to give refuge to hundreds of surrendering foreign mercenaries. “Treat them with humanity,” Washington instructed his troops. “Let them have no reason to complain of our copying the brutal example of the British army.”

    Contrast this with the September 15, 2006, Washington Post lead editorial titled “The president goes to Capitol Hill to lobby for torture.” “President Bush rarely visits Congress. So it was a measure of his painfully skewed priorities that Mr. Bush made the unaccustomed trip yesterday to seek legislative permission for the CIA to make people disappear into secret prisons and have information extracted from them by means he dare not describe publicly.”

    If the Bush Library and think tank are placed at SMU, The United Methodist Church should withdraw its association from the University and demand that the good name of Methodism be removed from the name of the school. If The United Methodist Church cannot take a stand against the use of torture and those who employ it, including President Bush, what does it stand for?

    Andrew J. Weaver, Ph.D., is a United Methodist minister and research psychologist living in New York City. He is a graduate of The Perkins School of Theology, SMU. He has co-authored 12 books including: Counseling Survivors of Traumatic Events (Abingdon, 2003) and Reflections on Grief and the Spiritual Journey (Abingdon, 2005).

    Fred W. Kandeler M.Div. is a retired United Methodist pastor living in New Braunfels, Texas. He was the founding pastor of Christ UMC in Plano, Texas and a United Methodist District Superintendent. He is a graduate of the Perkins School of Theology, SMU.

  5. Joe says:

    I’d like to comment on Dr. Weaver’s letter with an article excerpt from The World Can’t Wait:

    This condemnation of the horrors the Bush presidency for the world coming from academics and Methodist leaders is a welcome development in a country still filled with all too much passivity and acceptance as torture is legalized and war crimes are committed. Their firm stand that a Bush presidential library is not welcome at their university or in the name of their religion breaches this passivity, and coming from Texas is all the more significant.

  6. Brutus says:

    From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rutherford_B._Hayes_Presidential_Center
    The Rutherford B. Hayes Center Library was opened in 1916 and is therefore the first actual Presidential Library and the only one for a presidency of the 19th century.

    See also: http://www.rbhayes.org/hayes/aboutcenter/

    Rental mini-storage facilities usually have deals for a couple of months free rent so it could probably be done for considerably less than half a billion dollars and the rest used for a good cause.

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