When I recently received an anti-Muslim email from an acquaintance, it caused me to think about what stereotype I fit that would make someone forward an email like this to me. Since our only association was a recent rediscovery of each other after serving together forty-seven years ago in the Vietnam War, I could only conclude that it was the military service that possibly caused this stereotype of me.
In the past, my wife has been the recipient of racist jokes or emails because she grew up in the South and the sender assumed that she might appreciate such communication. And since silence signals approval, we believe it is important to speak up.
For this reason, I have responded to this anti-Muslim email and treated it seriously, in spite of the irrelevance of most of the questions to any main point, which was never stated. And since I have invested so much time into this response and found the research to be so interesting, I’ve decided to share it with my readers in a series of posts.
In the process, I have discovered that I have much more to learn about Muslims. Perhaps I will eventually write a novel to incorporate some of these discoveries, just like I did when I wrote Well Considered after learning so much about the nadir of race relations in this country when I was researching Don Speed Smith Goodloe, the first principal (1911-1921) of what is now Bowie State University .
Since this material is too lengthy for a blog post, I plan to share daily. Part of the email started out thus [my response is indented and italicized]:
Barack Obama, during his Cairo speech, said: “I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America ‘s history.”
AN AMERICAN CITIZEN’S RESPONSE:
Dear Mr. Obama:
Were those Muslims that were in America when the Pilgrims first landed? Funny, I thought they were Native American Indians.
They were Native American Indians, and they had many non-Christian religions. . . The theology may have been monotheistic, polytheistic, henotheistic, animistic, or some combination thereof . [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_religion ]
Were those Muslims that celebrated the first Thanksgiving day? Sorry again, those were Pilgrims and Native American Indians.
No, not Muslims, just Christians and pagans. It is interesting to note that according to http://www.plimoth.org/what-see-do/17th-century-english-village/faith-pilgrims, the Pilgrims were “separatists who believed that the Church of England violated biblical precepts…,” “rejected Christmas, Easter, . . .hymns, and recitations of the Lord’s Prayer,” and “believed in fairies and witches, astrological influences and folklore.”
Can you show me one Muslim signature on the: United States Constitution? Declaration of Independence? Bill of Rights? Didn’t think so.
Founding Father Jefferson, the principal author and a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a contributor to the Bill of Rights, who staunchly supported Freedom of Religion, was not a Muslim. He was most likely a Deist or Unitarian. However, he admired many Muslim teachings and owned a copy of the Quran. In the 1800 Presidential campaign, in which Jefferson defeated John Adams, the Adams campaign accused Jefferson of being a Muslim. [Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders, 24 Oct 2013, by Denise A. Spellberg page 212].
As President, Jefferson waged war against the Islamic terrorist power, Tripoli, to stop the Barbary pirates from raiding ships on the Mediterranean and charging ransom for captured sailors. The United States won the war, and it was the first time in history that the United States flag was raised in victory on foreign soil. The action is memorialized in a line of the Marines’ Hymn—”the shores of Tripoli”. [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Barbary_War] In other words, Jefferson could distinguish between the Islamic religion and the terrorists who hijacked the name of the religion along with the ships.
Similarly, Prime Minister David Cameron stated, “ISIS are not Muslims; they are monsters”- http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2754934/ISIS-release-video-claiming-beheading-British-hostage-David-Haines.html), and President Barack Obama stated, “So ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/transcript-president-obamas-remarks-on-the-execution-of-journalist-james-foley-by-islamic-state/2014/08/20/f5a63802-2884-11e4-8593-da634b334390_story.html). Cameron and Obama have been able to maintain the same stance that Jefferson did.
Next: Muslim participation in U.S. wars