“CNN’s W. Kamau Bell devoted a recent episode of his series United Shades of America to exploring Muslim and Arab communities” claiming that “Islam has ‘always’ been present in the U.S.” since a significant minority of black slaves were Muslim.
President Obama said something similar in his 2009 Cairo speech: “Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding.” It’s true that America’s relationship with Islam goes back prior to its founding, but it’s not what the former President and the folks at CNN are willing to reveal.
What Bell conveniently leaves out of his story is that these kidnapped Muslims were sold into slavery by other Muslims.
“But the faith did not survive among these populations; few of their descendants knew their forefathers’ Muslim origins. 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.” (Breitbart).
There was some awareness of Islam but of such a foreign faith that it had nothing to do with the founding principles of the Constitution.1 It was not long before our founders did become aware of Islam as an enemy. The Barbary Muslim pirates habitually preyed on ships from “Christian nations,” enslaving “Christian” seamen in the latter part of the 18th century. “Barbary was Christendom’s Gulag Archipelago.”2
The Boston bombings, the Fort Hood Shootings, the events of 9/11, and numerous international Islamic terrorist attacks are only new to people who have no sense of history. Most Americans are familiar with the first line of the United States Marine Corps hymn, “From the Halls of Montezuma3 to the shores of Tripoli” but most likely don’t know the source of the “Tripoli” reference. The line “to the shores of Tripoli” refers to the First Barbary War, specifically the Battle of Derna in 1805.
Thomas Jefferson, embroiled in a war with Islamic terrorists in his day, commented, “Too long, for the honor of nations, have those Barbarians been [permitted] to trample on the sacred faith of treaties, on the rights and laws of human nature!”4
Little has changed since the eighteenth century. In Joseph Wheelan’s well-researched book on America’s first war on terror with Islam, we learn that “Jefferson’s war pitted a modern republic with a free-trade, entrepreneurial creed against a medieval autocracy whose credo was piracy and terror. It matched an ostensibly Christian nation against an avowed Islamic one that professed to despise Christians.”5