Blog Round-Up

January 21, 2007

What are other bloggers from SMU, University Park, the Metroplex, and around the country saying about the proposal to build the George W. Bush Presidential Library-Museum-Institute, hereinafter known as the Bush LMI, at Southern Methodist University? Web searches reveal, as you might expect, a wide range of opinions.

Many find dark humor in the subject. Others are thoughtful, concerned, skeptical, or scathing, and provide in-depth information about the backstory to these events. And some are outraged by the outrage. The MoJo Blog also commented on the “Attack of the Methodists,” while at least two diaries at Daily Kos recently examined the controversy.

Several Dallas and Park Cities bloggers discuss the Methodist petition, land, and traffic; one points out that relations between SMU and University Park are especially strained at the moment.

Three SMU professors discuss their reasons for supporting or opposing the library, and another SMU student weighs in with her own opinion on the LMI; I hope that many more will do the same.


Disquiet in the library

January 21, 2007

Disquiet in the library over Bush’s plans for presidential institute
By Philip Sherwell in Dallas
Sunday Telegraph

When George W Bush and a small group of close political allies selected Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas as their preferred site for his future presidential library and institute, it seemed a straightforward choice.

After all, the university was established in 1911 by the United Methodist denomination of which the president is a member, it is the alma mater of his wife Laura, who now sits on the board of trustees – and the campus abuts the Highland Park church, where the couple are still registered as worshippers.

But even here, in the heart of Texan Bush territory, the decision has provoked outrage. The university president, Gerald Turner, called a special meeting of the academic body last week to defuse the row, but dissidents remain strongly opposed to plans to host a partisan, Bush political institute, where conservative scholars will promote the president’s policies and burnish his reputation.

Their campaign spread beyond the campus on Thursday when a group of Methodist ministers launched a nationwide petition against the proposal, citing the war in Iraq and the treatment of Guantánamo Bay detainees as reasons why SMU should not be associated with the Bush legacy. The university is non-sectarian, but maintains a strong Wesleyan Methodist tradition, which has fuelled criticisms on campus.

Among the most vocal critics is Susanne Johnson, an associate professor of theology who sent a protest letter signed by 68 faculty members to the trustees.

“I am willing to accept a non-partisan library of presidential papers and a museum, but a Bush institute is unacceptable and goes against SMU’s core principles of academic freedom, open inquiry and promoting the United Methodist heritage,” she said.

The university is playing down the row, saying that only a minority of its 609-strong faculty share Prof Johnson’s view. “We respect our friends’ strongly held views and are delighted that they feel free to express them,” said Brad Cheves, the vice-president for development. “The debate is evidence of SMU’s healthy tradition of academic freedom, and the presence of the Bush library and institute would not compromise those principles.”

Mr Bush’s approval rating in his adopted state has slipped markedly, as it has across the US, hitting a low of 38 per cent in Texas last month. Until September 2005, his approval figures consistently exceeded disapproval ratings.

Continued here.