We hear a lot about the United States’ Judeo-Christian heritage, but according to President Obama, “Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding.”
That’s what the president told a White House conference on “countering violent extremism” on Wednesday.
In his speech on Wednesday, Obama was making the point that Western nations must show that they “welcome people of all faiths,” at a time when “extremists” are saying that Western nations are “hostile to Muslims.”
However, America’s first dealings with Islam were tense and unpleasant.
According to a Heritage Foundation paper, shortly after America’s founding, the United States “was dragged into the affairs of the Islamic world by an escalating series of unprovoked attacks on Americans by Muslim pirates, the terrorists of the era,” who looted American ships and captured American sailors, holding them for ransom or selling them as slaves.
The paper notes that America’s struggle with Muslim pirates from the Barbary States (modern-day Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya) began soon after the 13 colonies declared their independence from Britain in 1776 and continued for roughly four decades.
In his remarks on Wednesday, President Obama said Muslim Americans now serve as police officers, firefighters, soldiers, “and in our intelligence communities and in homeland security.”
He said Muslim American heroes are buried at Arlington National Cemetery, “having given their lives in defense of all of us.”
“And, of course, that’s the story extremists and terrorists don’t want the world to know — Muslims succeeding and thriving in America. Because when that truth is known, it exposes their propaganda as the lie that it is.
“It’s also a story that every American must never forget, because it reminds us all that hatred and bigotry and prejudice have no place in our country. It is not just counterproductive. It doesn’t just aid terrorists. It’s wrong. It’s contrary to who we are.”
So-called hate crimes against Muslims escalated in this country after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 — attacks perpetrated by Islamic radicals — but they have never reached the level of hate crimes against Jews, according to the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Reporting statistics.
In 2013, for example, 62.4 percent of hate crime victims were attacked because of anti-Jewish bias, while 11.6 percent were victims of anti-Islamic bias.
Compare that with the year before the 2001 terror attacks: In 2000, of the 1,699 victims of anti-religious hate crime, 74.6 percent were victims of an offender’s anti-Jewish bias; and only 2.1 percent were victims of an offender’s anti-Islamic bias.
President Obama on Wednesday stressed that U.S. is not at war with Islam:”We are at war with people who have perverted Islam,” he said.
He also said the West and Islam are not in conflict; and that Islam is not incompatible with modern life.
Source: CNS News