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PRO-LIFE
"The Signs of the Times"

Outreach or Overreach?

Much is being said about President Obama's speech today at Cairo University. Left-leaning pundits have touted the speech in a leading Arab nation as a bold outreach to "the Muslim World." It may be a bold outreach from a political perspective, but it was certainly a bold overreach from a factual and historical perspective.

Quoting from the Koran four times, the President said, "Islam has always been a part of America's story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco...let there be no doubt, Islam is a part of America." Actually, Mr. President, it was Holland. On November 16, 1776, officials at Saint Eustatius in the Dutch West Indies fired "the first salute" to a warship bearing the American flag. The event was the subject of a best-selling history book by Barbara Tuchman, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. The President is certainly entitled to his own opinion of America. But, as Ronald Reagan said, he is not entitled to his own facts.

President Obama went on to cite John Adams' words when second president signed the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796. Adams, at the time, said we had "no enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility of Muslims." The only problem was that the Barbary Pirates, then operating out of Tripoli, continued to prey on American shipping. Although he didn't use "micro loans" or new "science and technology" funds, Adams attempted to buy them off and failed. By 1800, nearly one-fifth of the federal budget was consumed in trying to pay off predatory rulers in North Africa. When Thomas Jefferson succeeded Adams in 1801, he dispatched warships and U.S. Marines "to the shores of Tripoli" to fight for American rights. Jefferson was determined not to pay tribute to the Muslim rulers of North Africa and to stop their seizing U.S. merchant ships and selling American seamen into slavery. That effort succeeded.

And yes, Jefferson did own a copy of the Koran as President Obama stated in his speech today. But the reason he read it when he was serving as our ambassador in Paris was to see if it could really be true--as Arab diplomats were telling him--that the Koran gave them the right to attack and enslave Americans and all other "infidels." Jefferson concluded from his reading that America must fight--not pay tribute--to protect her citizens.

Additional Resources
Time: Full Text: President Barack Obama's Speech to the Muslim World


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