The proposed mosque/community center two blocks from Ground Zero was a local matter for President Obama until the Ramadan dinner at the White House last night, where he endorsed its construction. The motto of this administration is now, apparently, "Never let an iftar go to waste."
President Obama's decision hasn't surprised many people, least of all me. Neither has President Obama apparently confusing whether Muslims have the right to build the "Park51" project on that spot with whether it's appropriate to build it there. What did surprise me was the stunningly bad sense of history President Obama once again put on display:
Is President Obama really unaware that Islam was "a part of America" during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson because, at the time, we were already essentially at war with the Barbary Pirates?
The backdrop to this state visit was the ongoing conflict between the United States and the Barbary states, autonomous provinces of the Ottoman Empire that rimmed the Mediterranean coast of North Africa. Soon after the Revolutionary War and the consequent loss of the British navy’s protection, American merchant vessels had become prey for Barbary corsairs. Jefferson was outraged by the demands of ransom for civilians captured from American vessels and the Barbary states’ expectation of annual tribute to be paid as insurance against future seizures. He took an uncharacteristically hawkish position against the prevailing thought that it was cheaper to pay tribute than maintain a navy to protect shipping from piracy.Not that Islam had anything to do with this, of course:
[O]ne cannot get around what Jefferson heard when he went with John Adams to wait upon Tripoli’s ambassador to London in March 1785. When they inquired by what right the Barbary states preyed upon American shipping, enslaving both crews and passengers, America’s two foremost envoys were informed that “it was written in the Koran, that all Nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon whoever they could find and to make Slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”The Tunisian ambassador mention in the video above also provides an amusing illustration of the "great diversity" that President Obama cites:
[T]he Tunisian [ambassador] was surprised at the social freedom women enjoyed in America and was especially intrigued by several delegations of Native Americans from the western territories then visiting Washington. [Ambassador] Mellimelli inquired which prophet the Indians followed: Moses, Jesus Christ or Mohammed. When he was told none of them, that they worshiped “the Great Spirit” alone, he was reported to have pronounced them “vile hereticks.”I'm not trying to paint all Muslims with the brush of their religion's bloody history. My own religion, Christianity, has a fairly bloody history as well. And I gladly acknowledge that the vast majority of Muslims just want to spend their lives in peace. But rewriting history only confuses our understanding of the present. And President Obama either doesn't know his history (again), or he's conveniently ignoring it to avoid offending the sensitivities of his Muslims guests at the White House Ramadan dinner.
I only wish he had shown the same courtesy to the majority of citizens in his own country and their sensitives on this issue, and asked the Park51 developers last night to "build it anywhere but there."
(H/T: Freedom's Lighthouse)