Protesters Planning Demonstration at George W. Bush Presidential Center Opening

The George W. Bush Presidential Center, construction of which has clogged up the eastern part of the SMU campus for years now, will be christened at a private ceremony on April 25. The former president will be there, as will wife Laura and an unspecified numbers of alumni from the Bush-Cheney administration.

"With world leaders invited to join President and Mrs. Bush for this historic day," the center's website boasts, "the event is expected to enjoy internationally-televised coverage."

In other words, it's the perfect stage for a protest. That's what a coalition of local human rights-oriented groups are planning to do. They're organizing what they're calling "The People's Response" to speak out against Bush administration policies.

But Bush left office more than four years ago, you might point out. Why not move on, let bygones be bygones? The Bush Center is, after all, a pretty unobjectionable place, what with a presidential library, museum, rose garden and think tank.

For the same reason that the groups planning the April 25 demonstration, including CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace, the Dallas Peace Center and others, have been fighting the Bush Center's placement at SMU since the beginning: because it would "cast a veneer of legitimacy on the Bush administration and its policies," according to The People's Response website.

As Leslie Harris of CODEPINK Greater Dallas, who is helping organize the event, puts it, "The illegal invasion of a sovereign nation was declared a 'supreme crime' at the Nuremberg trials. That Bush and his advisers walk free today is unconscionable; there must be accountability so history won't repeat itself."

The Reverend Bill McElvaney, a professor emeritus at SMU's Perkins School of Theology argues merely that the invasion of Iraq and the practice of torture violates Methodism's principles and therefore places SMU "in contradiction to its own heritage as an institution of the United Methodist Church."

Organizers aren't limiting themselves to a single protest, however, but are organizing a full week of workshops, teach-ins, art, music, creative direct action, internationally known speakers, and -- of course -- a dance party for peace!

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