THE proposed siting of the George W. Bush Presidential Library at the Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas, United States, has brought a storm of protest from a group of United Methodist bishops, clergy, and supporters across the country. They argue that it would provide a platform for conservative advocacy, and amount to an endorsement of the Iraq war.
More than 10,000 objectors have signed a petition against the proposal to build the library, museum, and policy institute on the campus of the private university, which has 11,000 students.
Alumni include the President’s wife, Laura Bush, who is on the board of trustees. The university’s emergence as the sole finalist in January, said to have been chosen by a team of President Bush’s confid-ants, prompted the protest.
The petition says: “As United Methodists, we believe that the linking of [Mr Bush’s] presidency with a university bearing the Methodist name is utterly inappropriate.”
The proposal is defended by the SMU President, Gerald Turner, who described the selection as an honour. “In preserving and sharing historical documents and artefacts, the George W. Bush Presidential Library at SMU would be a tremendous resource for the study of presidential decision-making in this post 9/11 era,” he said.
Carl Sewell, who chairs the board of trustees, said: “No matter what one’s political affiliation, the library would offer SMU students opportunities for a unique educational experience.”
A request by SMU professors to have a referendum on the issue was turned down last week by the Faculty Senate. President Bush is reported in The Dallas Morning News on Monday as saying that the decision in favour of SMU “makes a lot of sense” and that he hoped to see his library built there. “We’ve still got work to do, but I’m leaning pretty far forward,” he told reporters.