Academic Separation and Jimmy Carter

Recently, a small band of bishops and clergy of the United Methodist Church began circulating a petition urging Southern Methodist University to reject a proposed plan to affiliate the school with what will be the George W. Bush presidential library. Because these bishops are of the opinion that the Bush administration has pursued policy they view as anathema, they have deemed between the Bush library and a United Methodist school as "unacceptable." The academic and economic advantages of a presidential library on or near the campus of a Methodist school are heavily outweighed by the dastardly deeds of President Bush.

Given that these bishops and clergy believe wholeheartedly that the academic center of a  president linked with a Methodist school is inappropriate because of that president's actions, when will these bishops and clergy circulate and/or support a similar petition urging Emory University to cease its relationship with the Carter Center?

Emory was founded by the Methodist church in 1836 and has been affiliated with the Carter Center since the latter's inception in 1982. The Carter Center was housed on the Emory campus until 1986 when it moved to an off-campus facility in Atlanta. The center and the university each describe proudly themselves as "partners." Taking the reasoning of the clergy and bishops who formulated and signed the petition regarding Southern Methodist as instructive, however, it is in the best interests of Emory and the church to separate themselves from President Carter.

As many are aware, President Carter has brought much embarrassment upon himself in the wake of his latest book, Palestine: Peace, not Apartheid. Two dozen members of the Carter Center's advisory board have resigned to protest the inaccuracies, misstatements and outright falsehoods President Carter writes, not to mention the documented accusations of plagiarism and anti-Israeli rhetoric within the text. President Carter has published a book of thinly-veiled anti-Israeli rhetoric that contains errors of commission and omission, and can now be used as a how-to textbook on plagiarism. Is this person someone with whom United Methodist bishops think it's appropriate for a church school to continue to associate? Is it not an utter embarrassment for the United Methodist Church to be connected with such a figure?

Kenneth W. Stein, director of the Institute for the Study of Modern Israel at Emory and, until this past December, Middle East fellow at the Carter Center, has published a damning article in The Middle East Quarterly that meticulously outlines President Carter's shocking anti-Semitism and the host of inaccuracies and falsehoods propagated in the former President's latest book, a book that contains no footnotes or sources to back up specious claims on issues relating to the Middle East conflict. A sample from Dr. Stein's piece:

"To support Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid's central theme that Israel is intransigent, Carter recasts Hamas as a moderate partner ready to negotiate with Israel. He launders its reputation both with careful word choice and omission. He uses the past tense, for example, to describe Hamas as an "Islamic militant group that opposed recognition of Israel [and] perpetrated acts of violence." Carter adds that he "urged them ...to forgo violence." He omits mention that Hamas denies the right of a Jewish state to exist in the Middle East and the group's belief that historical Palestine belongs in its entirety to Muslims. Carter is incorrect when he writes that Hamas has not been responsible for any terrorist acts since August 2004. Hamas on many subsequent occasions claimed responsibility for firing Qassam rockets into Israel and also claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit in June 2006."

The preceding passage is merely the tip of a very dangerous and appallingly bitter iceberg.

Opponents of President Bush have characterized him as a buffoon, a warmonger, a homophobe, an oil robber baron, a murderer, and a liar. "Concerned" bishops and clergy profess that it would be the height of embarrassment and outrage to house this man's papers, library, and policy center at Southern Methodist. But what of an avowed anti-Israeli who lies and distorts facts for the promotion of what historians generally agree is a failed presidency? This is a man, keep in mind, who once complained that there were "too many Jews" on the government's Holocaust Memorial Council.

Is such a view not of concern to the church? Why would the United Methodist Church wish to align itself with someone who states that Hamas has ceased terrorist activities when it most obviously has not, and who is patently anti-Jewish to boot? Does this continued association with President Carter not make the church and prominent church-affiliated university look rather foolish?

If United Methodist bishops and clergy are concerned that George W. Bush is unworthy of affiliation with Southern Methodist, how can an affiliation between Emory and Jimmy Carter remain appropriate given President Carter's vitriol toward Israelis and the Israeli nation, and his willful manipulation of facts in public statements and actions now enshrined in a book written in his hand? Action by United Methodist bishops and clergy is necessary to separate the church from academic affiliation with an anti-Israeli, lying plagiarist.

However, if the application of certain standards for one President is appropriate when questioning the affiliation with Methodist schools, it is appropriate for all. When United Methodist clergy and bishops begin to openly campaign for the dissolution of the relationship between Emory University and the Carter Center and Jimmy Carter, balance will be restored to the thinking and public pronouncements of those purportedly concerned about the image of the church. Only then will any petition or objection regarding George W. Bush and Southern Methodist University by Methodist clergy and bishops be taken seriously by serious minds. Until such time, the petition is nothing more than a written expression of personal animus, myopia, and intellectual dishonesty.

Matt May can be reached at matthewtmay@yahoo.com
Recently, a small band of bishops and clergy of the United Methodist Church began circulating a petition urging Southern Methodist University to reject a proposed plan to affiliate the school with what will be the George W. Bush presidential library. Because these bishops are of the opinion that the Bush administration has pursued policy they view as anathema, they have deemed between the Bush library and a United Methodist school as "unacceptable." The academic and economic advantages of a presidential library on or near the campus of a Methodist school are heavily outweighed by the dastardly deeds of President Bush.

Given that these bishops and clergy believe wholeheartedly that the academic center of a  president linked with a Methodist school is inappropriate because of that president's actions, when will these bishops and clergy circulate and/or support a similar petition urging Emory University to cease its relationship with the Carter Center?

Emory was founded by the Methodist church in 1836 and has been affiliated with the Carter Center since the latter's inception in 1982. The Carter Center was housed on the Emory campus until 1986 when it moved to an off-campus facility in Atlanta. The center and the university each describe proudly themselves as "partners." Taking the reasoning of the clergy and bishops who formulated and signed the petition regarding Southern Methodist as instructive, however, it is in the best interests of Emory and the church to separate themselves from President Carter.

As many are aware, President Carter has brought much embarrassment upon himself in the wake of his latest book, Palestine: Peace, not Apartheid. Two dozen members of the Carter Center's advisory board have resigned to protest the inaccuracies, misstatements and outright falsehoods President Carter writes, not to mention the documented accusations of plagiarism and anti-Israeli rhetoric within the text. President Carter has published a book of thinly-veiled anti-Israeli rhetoric that contains errors of commission and omission, and can now be used as a how-to textbook on plagiarism. Is this person someone with whom United Methodist bishops think it's appropriate for a church school to continue to associate? Is it not an utter embarrassment for the United Methodist Church to be connected with such a figure?

Kenneth W. Stein, director of the Institute for the Study of Modern Israel at Emory and, until this past December, Middle East fellow at the Carter Center, has published a damning article in The Middle East Quarterly that meticulously outlines President Carter's shocking anti-Semitism and the host of inaccuracies and falsehoods propagated in the former President's latest book, a book that contains no footnotes or sources to back up specious claims on issues relating to the Middle East conflict. A sample from Dr. Stein's piece:

"To support Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid's central theme that Israel is intransigent, Carter recasts Hamas as a moderate partner ready to negotiate with Israel. He launders its reputation both with careful word choice and omission. He uses the past tense, for example, to describe Hamas as an "Islamic militant group that opposed recognition of Israel [and] perpetrated acts of violence." Carter adds that he "urged them ...to forgo violence." He omits mention that Hamas denies the right of a Jewish state to exist in the Middle East and the group's belief that historical Palestine belongs in its entirety to Muslims. Carter is incorrect when he writes that Hamas has not been responsible for any terrorist acts since August 2004. Hamas on many subsequent occasions claimed responsibility for firing Qassam rockets into Israel and also claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit in June 2006."

The preceding passage is merely the tip of a very dangerous and appallingly bitter iceberg.

Opponents of President Bush have characterized him as a buffoon, a warmonger, a homophobe, an oil robber baron, a murderer, and a liar. "Concerned" bishops and clergy profess that it would be the height of embarrassment and outrage to house this man's papers, library, and policy center at Southern Methodist. But what of an avowed anti-Israeli who lies and distorts facts for the promotion of what historians generally agree is a failed presidency? This is a man, keep in mind, who once complained that there were "too many Jews" on the government's Holocaust Memorial Council.

Is such a view not of concern to the church? Why would the United Methodist Church wish to align itself with someone who states that Hamas has ceased terrorist activities when it most obviously has not, and who is patently anti-Jewish to boot? Does this continued association with President Carter not make the church and prominent church-affiliated university look rather foolish?

If United Methodist bishops and clergy are concerned that George W. Bush is unworthy of affiliation with Southern Methodist, how can an affiliation between Emory and Jimmy Carter remain appropriate given President Carter's vitriol toward Israelis and the Israeli nation, and his willful manipulation of facts in public statements and actions now enshrined in a book written in his hand? Action by United Methodist bishops and clergy is necessary to separate the church from academic affiliation with an anti-Israeli, lying plagiarist.

However, if the application of certain standards for one President is appropriate when questioning the affiliation with Methodist schools, it is appropriate for all. When United Methodist clergy and bishops begin to openly campaign for the dissolution of the relationship between Emory University and the Carter Center and Jimmy Carter, balance will be restored to the thinking and public pronouncements of those purportedly concerned about the image of the church. Only then will any petition or objection regarding George W. Bush and Southern Methodist University by Methodist clergy and bishops be taken seriously by serious minds. Until such time, the petition is nothing more than a written expression of personal animus, myopia, and intellectual dishonesty.

Matt May can be reached at matthewtmay@yahoo.com