‘It Began With Muslim Pirates…’

We took the liberty to make some inquiries concerning the Grounds of their pretensions to make war upon a Nation who had done them no Injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our Friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation. The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of the ‘Prophet’, That it was written in their Koran, That all Nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, That it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves they could take as prisoners, and that every Muslim who should be slain in battle was sure to go to paradise.” –Thomas Jefferson

“It was Obama who told the Muslim world in his Cairo speech in 2009:

“Islam has always been a part of America’s story.”

He offered a dubious proof:

“The first nation to recognize ‘my country’ was Morocco.”

“He also cited the ‘Treaty of Tripoli’, which was essentially an agreement to pay a bribe to Muslim pirates who had made a practice of kidnapping Americans.

“For ‘CNN’, the argument that Islam has “always” been present in the U.S. rests largely on the claim that a significant minority of black slaves were Muslim. On Saturday, ‘CNN’ correspondent Dean Obeidallah claimed that

“Islam has been here since the time of slavery, because ten to fifteen percent of the African slaves brought were Muslim. So Islam was here before the creation of the United States. It was actually part of the creation of the United States of America.”

“W. Kamau Bell’s interviewee {in his series “United Shades of America”} raises the estimate, claiming that

“during the slave trade, up to about 25 to 30% of the slaves came from areas where there were predominantly Muslim populations.”

(Note that these claims leave out the role of Muslims in the slave trade itself, casting Muslims purely as victims.) …

19th-century European engraving of Arab slave-trading caravan transporting African slaves across the Sahara.

“While Muslims were present at America’s founding, Islam — as a coherent, self-conscious religious and political civilization — was not. Had it been present, one would have expected the Founding Fathers to be more aware of it, and one would have expected to see an American version of the faith emerge, one more comfortable with ideas of tolerance and individual liberty, much as different reformist versions of Judaism flourished in the United States.

“To the extent that Islam was a part of early American history, it was a negative force, an external enemy. The predations of the Barbary pirates prompted the U.S. to build a world-class navy and deploy the fledgling Marines. As Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger recall in “Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History”, Jefferson was shocked when, at a meeting in London with the Tripolitan ambassador and John Adams in 1786, the Muslim envoy declared that American Christians were fair game for piracy:

“… all nations which had not acknowledged the ‘Prophet’ were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of faithful persons to plunder and enslave.” …

“Bell offers one additional argument to defend the idea that Islam is intrinsically American:

“America has always had heroes who were Muslims.”

“He cites Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Malcolm X — none of whom were active in public life before the 1960s. Amazingly, he also praises the ‘Nation of Islam’ and its leader, Louis Farrakhan. Bell cites Farrakhan’s “Million Man March” — and ignores his vicious racism and antisemitism {!}.

“CNN’s effort at historical revisionism is not just aimed at encouraging Americans to adopt more tolerant attitudes toward Muslims, but to discourage awareness or criticism of aspects of contemporary Islamic political thought that clash with liberal democratic principles and that, ‘in extremis’, pose an active terrorist threat…”

–‘CNN’s W. Kamau Bell: Islam Part of America’s Founding’,
JOEL B. POLLAK, Breitbart, 29 May 2017

IMAGE: ‘Decatur Boarding the Tripolitan Gunboat’ — by Dennis Malone Carter

http://www.breitbart.com/big-journalism/2017/05/29/cnns-crusade-declare-islam-part-americas-founding/

http://www.reformation.org/islam-versus-us.html

President Thomas Jefferson (Peale)

“In 1786, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson met with Arab diplomats from Tunisia, who were conducting terror raids and piracy against American ships (Barbary Pirates). Writing to John Jay, Thomas Jefferson described what he saw as the main issue and the reason why they were attacking Americans who had done them no harm. The following quote is from Thomas Jefferson:

“We took the liberty to make some inquiries concerning the Grounds of their pretensions to make war upon a Nation who had done them no Injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our Friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation. The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of the ‘Prophet’, That it was written in their Koran, That all Nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, That it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves they could take as prisoners, and that every Muslim who should be slain in battle was sure to go to paradise.”

–January 2, 1786

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“If you wish, you can read the actual letter from Thomas Jefferson. An image of the letter from Adams and Jefferson to John Jay can be found in “Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 1. General Correspondence”. 1651-1827, pp. 430-432. I can’t link it directly, but you can go to
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/mtjhtml/mtjser1.html
and then click on “From January 2, 1786″ and then go to page 431.”

http://michiganstate.247sports.com/Board/97/Thomas-Jefferson-quote-about-Muslim-Extremists-4859340/1

COMMENT: “CNN needs to remember that there’s a reason that the U.S. Marine Corps hymn includes the words “shores of Tripoli”.”
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“The Marines were called leathernecks because they wore a strip of leather around their necks to defend against the Muslims who would try to chop off their heads.”

VIDEO: ‘Jefferson and the Barbary Pirates – Past is Present’
https://youtu.be/Ui8OCiZsWGw

“…Added to my own shelf in the recent past have been
“The Barbary Wars: American Independence in the Atlantic World”, by Frank Lambert (2005);
“Jefferson’s War: America’s First War on Terror 1801–1805”, by Joseph Wheelan (2003);
“To the Shores of Tripoli: The Birth of the U.S. Navy and Marines”, by A. B. C. Whipple (1991, republished 2001);
and “Victory in Tripoli: How America’s War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation”, by Joshua E. London (2005).

“Most recently, in his new general history, “Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present”, the Israeli scholar Michael Oren opens with a long chapter on the Barbary conflict. As some of the subtitles—and some of the dates of publication—make plain, this new interest is largely occasioned by America’s latest round of confrontation in the Middle East…

“In a way, I am glad that I did not have the initial benefit of all this research. My quest sent me to some less obvious secondary sources, in particular to Linda Colley’s excellent book “Captives”, which shows the reaction of the English and American publics to a slave trade of which they were victims rather than perpetrators.

“How many know that perhaps 1.5 million Europeans and Americans were enslaved in Islamic North Africa between 1530 and 1780? We dimly recall that Miguel de Cervantes was briefly in the galleys. But what of the people of the town of Baltimore in Ireland, all carried off by “corsair” raiders in a single night?

“Some of this activity was hostage trading and ransom farming, rather than the more labor-intensive horror of the Atlantic trade and the Middle Passage, but it exerted a huge effect on the imagination of the time—and probably on no one more than on Thomas Jefferson…

“One immediate effect of the American Revolution, however, was to strengthen the hand of those very same North African potentates: roughly speaking, the Maghrebian provinces of the Ottoman Empire that conform to today’s Algeria, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia. Deprived of Royal Navy protection, American shipping became even more subject than before to the depredations of those who controlled the Strait of Gibraltar. The infant United States had therefore to decide not just upon a question of national honor but upon whether it would stand or fall by free navigation of the seas…

 “…One 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.”

“It seems likely that Jefferson decided from that moment on that he would make war upon the Barbary kingdoms as soon as he commanded American forces. His two least favorite institutions—enthroned monarchy and state-sponsored religion—were embodied in one target, and it may even be that his famous ambivalences about slavery were resolved somewhat when he saw it practiced by the Muslims…

There were many Americans—John Adams among them—who made the case that it was better policy to pay the tribute. It was cheaper than the loss of trade, for one thing, and a battle against the pirates would be “too rugged for our people to bear.”

“Putting the matter starkly, Adams said:

We ought not to fight them at all unless we determine to fight them forever.”

“The cruelty, exorbitance, and intransigence of the Barbary states, however, would decide things. The level of tribute demanded began to reach 10% of the American national budget, with no guarantee that greed would not increase that percentage, while from the dungeons of Algiers and Tripoli came appalling reports of the mistreatment of captured men and women.

“Gradually, and to the accompaniment of some of the worst patriotic verse ever written, public opinion began to harden in favor of war. From Jefferson’s perspective, it was a good thing that this mood shift took place during the Adams administration, when he was out of office and temporarily “retired” to Monticello. He could thus criticize federal centralization of power, from a distance, even as he watched the construction of a fleet—and the forging of a permanent Marine Corps—that he could one day use for his own ends…

Barbary Wars, 1804. (Credit: Mansell — Time/Life Pictures – Getty Images)

“Once again, Barbary obstinacy tipped the scale. Yusuf Karamanli, the pasha of Tripoli, declared war on the United States in May 1801, in pursuit of his demand for more revenue. This earned him a heavy bombardment of Tripoli and the crippling of one of his most important ships.

“But the force of example was plainly not sufficient. In the altered mood that prevailed after the encouraging start in Tripoli, Congress passed an enabling act in February 1802 that, in its provision for a permanent Mediterranean presence and its language about the “Tripolitan Corsairs”, amounted to a declaration of war. The Barbary regimes continued to underestimate their new enemy, with Morocco declaring war in its turn and the others increasing their blackmail.

“A complete disaster—Tripoli’s capture of the new U.S. frigate ‘Philadelphia’—became a sort of triumph, thanks to Edward Preble and Stephen Decatur, who mounted a daring raid on Tripoli’s harbor and blew up the captured ship, while inflicting heavy damage on the city’s defenses.

Commodore Stephen Decatur (1779-1820)

“Now there were names—Preble and Decatur—for newspapers back home to trumpet as heroes. Nor did their courage draw notice only in America. Admiral Lord Nelson himself called the raid “the most bold and daring act of the age”, and Pope Pius VII declared that the United States

“had done more for the cause of Christianity than the most powerful nations of Christendom have done for ages.”

“(In his nostalgia for Lepanto, perhaps, His Holiness was evidently unaware that the ‘Treaty of Tripoli’, which in 1797 had attempted to formalize the dues that America would pay for access to the Mediterranean, stated in its preamble that the United States had no quarrel with the Muslim religion and was in no sense a Christian country. Of course, those secularists like myself who like to cite this treaty must concede that its conciliatory language was part of America’s attempt to come to terms with Barbary demands.) …

“With a small detachment of marines, headed by Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon, and a force of irregulars inevitably described by historians as “motley”, the American consul in Tunis, William Eaton, crossed the desert from Egypt and came at Tripoli…from the land and not from the sea. The attack proved a total surprise. The city of Darna surrendered its far larger garrison, and Karamanli’s forces were heavily engaged, when news came that Jefferson and Karamanli had reached an understanding that could end the war. The terms weren’t too shabby, involving the release of the ‘Philadelphia’s crew and a final settlement of the tribute question. And Jefferson took care to stress that Eaton had played a part in bringing it about.

“This graciousness did not prevent Eaton from denouncing the deal as a sellout. The caravan moved on, though, as the other Barbary states gradually followed Tripoli’s lead and came to terms…

“The Barbary states sought to exploit Anglo-American hostilities {War of 1812} by resuming their depredations and renewing their demands for blood money. So in 1815, after a brief interval of recovery from the war with Britain, President Madison asked Congress for permission to dispatch Decatur once again to North Africa, seeking a permanent settling of accounts.

“This time, the main offender was the dey of Algiers, Omar Pasha, who saw his fleet splintered and his grand harbor filled with heavily armed American ships. Algiers had to pay compensation, release all hostages, and promise not to offend again. President Madison’s words on this occasion could scarcely be bettered:

It is a settled policy of America, that as peace is better than war, war is better than tribute. The United States, while they wish for war with no nation, will buy peace with none.” …

“I would close with a few staves of Kipling, whose poem “Dane-Geld” is a finer effort than anything managed by Francis Scott Key…:

“It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say:—

“We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!”

–‘Jefferson Versus the Muslim Pirates’,
Christopher Hitchens, City Journal (Manhattan Insitute), Spring 2007

https://www.city-journal.org/html/jefferson-versus-muslim-pirates-13013.html

VIDEO: Christopher Hitchens – ‘Barbary Pirates, Muslim Slave Trade and Thomas Jefferson’
https://youtu.be/aTFn0ySxs_U

VIDEO: ‘Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History’
https://youtu.be/Ews2UoF51pc
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