Seeing as how we are fighting a war with the more extreme members of the "Religion of Peace", Ellison's candidacy (along with his ties to the NoI) was a lightning rod of controversy from the get-go. Ellison has not helped matters with his plan to be sworn into Congress tomorrow with his hand on a Quran instead of a Bible. Is the world going to come to an end when this happens? No, life will go on. But chalk it up as one more nail in the coffin of our country's Christian heritage. Oooooh, I can just hear the bristling and discomfort from some of my readers out there at the sound of that term: Our country's Christian heritage. Some Americans may not like this fact, but they would have trouble denying it; the United States of America was founded on the precepts and beliefs of Christianity. The great thing about Christianity is that it is willing to tolerate other religions, and that is why you don't have to be a Christian to live in the United States - as a non-Muslim, try entering Mecca or Medina sometime; you'll lose everything from the neck up. But because our nation was founded in the tradition of Christianity, even if you are of a different religion, you cannot neccessarily practice every aspect of your faith in this country. If you subscribe to an ancient Aztec faith, you do not have the freedom to go around cutting peoples' hearts out. If you are a Muslim, you do not have the right to cut off your daughter's clitoris (I will save my disgust toward male circumcision for another post). The bottom line is that no matter what your religion, if you live in this country, you must follow its laws, and those laws - by and large - are steeped in the teachings and traditions of Christianity.
This is why it bothers so many Americans that Keith Ellison is willing to place his hand on a book that has nothing to do with the founding of this country, and in fact, calls for customs and laws that are anathema to our way of life, such as calling for the killing of people who are not of a certain faith, and the legally sanctioned unequal treatment of women. If you want to read more about these misgivings, I direct you to a series of columns here, here, and here, written by public speaker, Jewish philosopher, and one of my favorite radio talk hosts, Dennis Prager. Prager has taken a lot of heat from the left for his outspoken criticism of Ellison's desire to be sworn in with a Quran.
I heard and read today in the news that the Quran that Ellison will use at his swearing-in ceremony tomorrow will be one that was owned by Thomas Jefferson and was donated to the Library of Congress by Jefferson after the War of 1812. It doesn't take much of a leap to see what Ellison is doing here: See? Even Thomas Jefferson, our third president and the author of the Declaration of Independence, was tolerant of Islam because he owned a Quran! So it's OK that I am being sworn in on a Quran tomorrow - I have Thomas Jefferson in my corner.
Thomas Jefferson had experience with Islam all right; during Jefferson's presidency, it was he who sent the U.S. Navy and Marines to Tripoli to fight the Muslim Barbary Pirates in order to stop them from kidnapping anymore of our sailors and merchants and holding them for ransom. Think of it as our first war on Islamic Terrorism. Going back to the 1780s when he was our ambassador to France, Jefferson had spoken out against the United States' policy of paying annual tribute to the Barbary Pirates in order to curb their cutthroat and kidnapping ways. And this tribute that the U.S. coughed up every year was no small matter; in 1800, one year before Jefferson took office as president, the ransoms and tribute we were paying amounted to 20 percent of our government's annual revenues. Almost immediately upon taking office in 1801, Jefferson sicced the Marines on the Barbary Pirates, hence the famous song lyric, ...to the shores of Tripoli.
In 1786, Jefferson recounted a conversation that he and John Adams had with an ambassador from the Barbary 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 their 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 of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman (Muslim) who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.”Wow! That Islamic screed sounds rather familiar. It could have been written yesterday; not 220 years ago.
According to the previously linked MSNBC article, Thomas Jefferson's Quran was printed in England in 1750, but it doesn't give the year that Jefferson acquired it. This means I can only speculate, but I would bet good money that Jefferson read that Quran in order to fulfill Sun Tzu's famous maxim, Know your enemy.
I am not fist-shakingly angry about Keith Ellison swearing his oath of office on a Quran tomorrow, but it does leave a rather bad taste in my mouth; especially his seeming misrepresentation of Thomas Jefferson's reasons for owning a copy of the Quran.
Good Day to You, Sir