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« Dhimmi-witted non-story | Main | This is it: the "Jefferson Koran" »

Thursday, 04 January 2007


The Barbary Pirates were just that - pirates. They didn't represent the whole Muslim world, or even all of North Africa. In response to Barbary raids on their shipping, the United States (represented by Thomas Jefferson) signed a treaty in 1786 with Islamic Morocco (the first country to recognize the United States upon independence, BTW) to protect shipping lines and assert the friendship between the US and Morocco. It remains, to this day, the oldest unbroken treaty ever signed by the US. http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/diplomacy/barbary/bar1786t.htm
Lynn B.
Shahed -- nowhere in this post does Anne suggest that the Barbary Pirates represented the whole Muslim world. And the treaty to which you refer was one of those being negotiated in the very series of meetings she describes. But the response of the Tripolitan ambassador makes it clear that elements in the Barbary states, treaty or not, were in fact hostile toward America, and that the roots of that hostility emanated from their understanding of the Koran. Thus has it ever been. So to pretend that there's anything "unassailably all-American" about that book is disingenuous at best.
Yes, but this post is making it look like all Muslims were like those Barbary pirates, when in fact the US had Muslim friends in the area that helped defend US shipping from pirates.
Shahed, I could do a whole series of posts about how most 18th century Muslims were NOT Barbary pirates, and most 21st century Muslims are NOT jihadists. But ... so what? If I fall and break my leg and go to the hospital, it doesn't help me at all if the doctor tells me that the OTHER one isn't broken. That's good, that's nice, that's normal... but it's not what is important. Not every German was a Nazi, either, and perhaps not every individual Nazi was a bad person, but there were enough bad Nazis that they came very close to killing all the Jews in Europe. So from my perspective, any "good Germans" are pretty much irrelevant. I'm sure there are hundreds of millions of Muslims who read and study the Koran and don't want to blow themselves up in order to kill a crowd of innocent people. But the fact is, they don't concern me and are even irrelevant to what does concern me. How many Iranians does it take to wipe Israel off the map? It may take only one. If that's the case, that one is my concern. The rest are like a non-broken leg.
Jefferson bought his copy of the Koran when he was a law student studying with George Wythe. He read it long before the conflict with the Barbary Pirates. He considered it a law book, and was greatly interested in the development of law in different cultures. He did not see all Muslims through the prism of the Barbary Pirates, a theme that seems to be developing at a number of sites on the Internet. There may not be anything "unassailably All-American" about the book, but it is unassailably Jeffersonian to be wide ranging and curious about the world at large... and also to be respectful of differences in religions. He entertained Muslims at the White House when he was president, and when he talked about the need for religious plurality, he included "Mohametans" with Christians, Hindus and Jews. Ellison was right on point in looking to TJ to remind us of this important aspect of American values.
If the Congressman wants to take his oath on the Koran then let him. We can only hope that he will keep the oath !
"So, the joke's on Ellison: by using Jefferson's Koran, he's pointing out exactly why he shouldn't. The problem is, no one will ever know." Well, don't be so sure of that. There are some of us who will see to it that Ellison's every move is amplified. There are quite of few who know of the irony.
Jefferson was atheist / agnostic at best. To answer the question of why he owned a koran: He also started writing his own Bible. The Jefferson Bible and Thomas Pain (Age of Reason) was also an atheist. From the reading I've done, it appears that many of our founding fathers and intellects of that time were atheist.
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