“We will convey,” Barack Obama told the Turkish Parliament Monday, “our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world - - including my own country.” He assured the Turkish leaders (who have become increasingly radicalized under President Abdullah Gul) that America “is not and never will be at war with Islam.” And he went on to say that “the United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans,” including his ancestors.
By making these remarks, Mr. Obama (who made a point of being introduced to the Turkish Nation as “Barack Hussein Obama”) is treading in the hobbled footprints of his foolhardy predecessor.
George W. Bush, the first person in history to declare Islam to be “A Religion of Peace”, stated in his second inaugural address, that Islam represented a major factor in the development of American heritage and culture and that “our national life [is sustained] by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran.”
Barack Hussein and George W. appear to be blithely unaware that there were no Muslims among the passengers on the Mayflower or the settlers at Jamestown. Muslims were conspicuously absent from the ranks of George Washington’s Army of the Revolution and played no role in the creation of the American republic - - save for the fact that the new country’s first declaration of war was against the forces of Islam represented by the Barbary pirates.1
Despite popular folklore, few Muslims numbered among the 12 million black Africans who were shipped to the New World from the 17th to 19th centuries. The Muslims, in fact, were not the slaves but the slave traders. Senegalese educator Amadou-Mahtar M’Bow has written that in 1587 a shipload of Moriscos (Spanish Moors) landed in a coastal area of South Carolina. The Moors, he contends, migrated to the mountains of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina where they established colonies.2 In reality, this is pure speculation. There is not a scintilla of archival or archaeological evidence to support this claim.
This is not to say that no Muslim slaves were transported to the colonies. Two such slaves - - Ayuiba Suleiman Diallo and Omar ibn Said - - were brought to America is 1731 but both were returned to Africa in 1734.3 In a Herculean effort to materialize at least one Muslim living in America before the Civil War, Muslims in America, an Islamic website, point to the name of Mahomet, the great grandson of Uncas, the founder of the Mohegan tribe, on a gravestone in Norwich, Connecticut.4 The name of this Native American, they argue, resembles that of the prophet, and, therefore, he must have been a convert to Islam. In a similar example of straining at gnats, the compilers of The Collections and Stories of American Muslims, a non-profit organization, claim that Peter Salem, a former slave who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill, must have been a Muslim since “Salem” bears an etymological resemblance to “Salaam,” the Arabic word for peace.5 For additional proof, the compilers turn to folklore, such as the story of Old Tom, a slave at a plantation in Georgia, who allegedly uttered, “Allah is God and Mohammed his Prophet” on his death-bed - - and the apocryphal tale of “Old Lizzy,” a slave from Edgefield County, who reportedly said, “Christ built His first church in Mecca.”6
Surprisingly, there is no record of any Islamic American among the enlisted and conscripted forces of World War I, let alone among the blue and grey armies of the Civil War. The great migrations that lasted from 1865 to 1925 brought 35,000,000 people to the New World: 4,500,000 from Ireland, 4,000,000 from Great Britain, 6,000,000 from central Europe, 2,000,000 from the Scandinavian countries, 5,000,000 from Italy, 8,000,000 from Eastern Europe, and 3,000,000 from the Balkans. But the number of Muslims who came here from the Middle East was statistically nil.7
In 1960, aside from the temples of the Nation of Islam (which upheld a version of the Qu’ran that bore no similarity to the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed)), the only mosques in the United States were in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Dearborn, Michigan, and Washington DC (which opened in 1957) - - and all three professed less than 200 active members. Four other cities contained miniature mosques with less than fifty members.8 Small wonder, therefore, that Islam in America failed to merit the attention of Leo Rosten and Will Herberg.
Leo Rosten’s sixth edition of Religions of America appeared in 1975. It represented an exhaustive compilation of statistical information concerning every major and minor body of believers in the country. Entire chapters were devoted to such Protestant denominations as the Disciples of Christ, the 7th Day Adventists, the Unitarian Universalists, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the various manifestations of Presbyterianism, Lutheranism, and Methodism. The study provided abundant data concerning the three forms of Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform) and a lengthy discussion about the liturgical and doctrinal differences between Greek Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. It even contained facts and figures concerning the five percent of Americans who claimed to be Agnostic.
But the work contained no mention of Islam, not even as a footnote. This was not an oversight. The Muslims in America were statistically insignificant, numbering less than 5,000. What’s more, as Rosten and his fellow analysts were aware, the vast majority of these so-called “Moslems” practiced a form of Islam that bore no semblance to the 7th Century pronouncements of the prophet Mohammad, let alone the teachings of the Quran and the Hadith. Indeed, at their weekly gatherings, the American Muslims - - almost all blacks from the inner cities - - sang Christian hymns.
In these halcyon days before the great Islamic Revolution of 1979, American sociologists continued to insist that membership within the three great bodies of Western religion (Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism) remained the main means of self-identification within American society. In his classic study Protestant, Catholic, Jew, Will Herberg articulated this finding by writing:
Not to be a Catholic, a Protestant, or a Jew today is, for increasing numbers of American people, not to have a name. . . To have a name and an identity, one must belong somewhere; and more and more one “belongs” in America by belonging to a religious community, which tells one what one is. The army sergeant who, when confronted with some theologically precise recruit (probably a high-church Episcopalian) who insisted he was neither Catholic, nor Protestant, nor Jewish, exclaimed in exasperation, “Well, if you’re not Catholic, or Protestant, or Hebrew, what in blazes are you?, gave voice to the prevailing view of contemporary America. Unless one is either a Protestant, or a Catholic, or a Jew, one is “nothing”; to be “something,” to have a name, one must identify oneself to oneself, and be identified by others, as belonging to one or another of the three great religious communities in which the American people are divided.9
We read these words with wonderment. There was a time when Americans were identified by their Judeo-Christian roots. Similarly, there was a time when people of different faiths (Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims) were not viewed as real Americans. And let’s remember that this was the finding of the leading sociologists of religion, not the claims of backwater Baptist ministers.
As little as a decade ago, these findings remained unchallenged. Americans could walk through crowded airports without encountering a woman in a burqa or a student in a shalwat kameez. Words such as jihad, imam, Sunni, and Shiite were not in common usage. Major cities contained no Islamic bookstores or clothing shops featuring designer Muslim headdresses. And vendors selling halal hotdogs were non-existent on the street corners of midtown Manhattan.
And now we have President Obama praising the Muslim world for its outstanding contributions to American culture.
Just what are these contributions?
It might be okay for Mr. Obama to bow before the Saudi Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in a gesture of obeisance, and it might be acceptable for him to present himself to President Gul as a Muslim American and to announce to the world that America is no longer a Christian nation.
But red-blooded Americans must never allow Obama, Bush, or anyone else to rewrite their history through the process of Newspeak and to deny their heritage as a people for the sake of globalism, multiculturalism, and a New World Order.
But has Islam really played a part in shaping the life of America? And have Muslims contributed to the cultural heritage of the United States?
Well, yes, I believe they have, and it is most unfortunate.