Friday, April 27, 2012

Rebuttal: Islam's Influence on Founding Fathers

Seriously... I can not believe I am reading things like this. Ms Shadia I know you are not a historian and I barely claim to be but it is difficult for me to read this blog Unveiled: A Muslim Girl in the O.C. and not be a little frustrated by the content. First let me be clear that I understand you are wanting to make a connection to your heritage and history and the place you call home today. I am glad you feel at home here in the United States because that is exactly what America is all about. Since its beginning America has been a refuge of people from all over the world seeking something different whether it be religious freedom, economic independence, or 15 minutes of fame. And for whatever reason you have arrived in our country I am happy for you and excited you call this home.,0,5532464.story

I do have to address however the idea that the founding fathers used Islamic teachings in the foundation of our country. It's true Locke, Smith, and Montesquieu were key figures in influencing individuals such as Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Madison but the connection from those Middle Eastern ideas and religion to our founding fathers is difficult to connect. When Europe decided that the crusades were a good idea they came to the Middle East and surprisingly learned a lot from the Muslim culture. Much of this is rarely talked about but technology, government, economics, and culture were among the many things that Europe took away from the Muslim people (along with Jerusalem briefly but that's another topic). So it goes without saying that Islam had a major impact on the European culture. If that is where your connection is coming from I have to say it is a little weak. All cultures have taken ideas and technologies from other cultures. It does not mean that the ideas came from them. Mongolia overtook China, Persia conquered Babylon, Greece ruled over half the world, and then Rome did, England became one of the most recent empires stretching across every ocean; the point being ideas have been spread and exchanged throughout history. My difficultly is in stating "America's forefathers were influenced by Islam." I have been studying the founding era for some time, it is my favorite, and I have seen no evidence of Washington, Jefferson, or Adams being students of Islam, reading Islam teachings, or stating they are influence by Islam or anything from the Middle East. Of course we would see hundreds to thousands in this country who were Islamic. There were hundreds or thousands of different religions in this country... we were founded as a country of religious freedom and refuge. Something Islamic nations have not been able to claim since their beginning. Of course Jefferson owned a Koran he was a student of religion and culture, he was a renaissance man like no other at the time. These connections from America's founding to Islam is weak at best.

I am not trying to disparage the Islamic religion simply the correlation to America's founding. I think more investigation needs to be found, more research needs to be done before we simply throw out statements of that nature, and an Islamic researcher probably has a bit of bias, not your best source to prove a point like this. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Our Nation Divided: Civil War 150th 2012

I know it has been forever since I wrote about the Civil War and for that I am sad. I was so excited to read more and understand more about the Civil War during this period of the 150th anniversary but living in the Midwest, one is far removed from the action. This is something I will remedy.

These next few years are a once in a lifetime opportunity for the public and so many states are taking advantage of it. I want people that read this blog to not miss out on all the great events, reenactments, and living history presentations that are happening. One of the best sources I have found is through The Civil War Trust. They have been an active leader in informing the public so they won't miss out on these fantastic events. It is a must visit website for events, news, and history of the Civil War. They also have links to other sites that can help you along the war such as finding events in your state, NPS,, and my favorite which are the blogs to the Washington Post and New York Times on the Civil War. I encourage everyone to click the link and investigate the website so you won't miss out on any events in your area.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Campaign Promise... broken?

Presidential candidates who have never held the office love to promise the world to the people of the United States. They promise an open administration that will work for the people and listen to the people. They typically promise to be a peoples President then it seems once they get into the office, the doors close and few of those promises are upheld. Proof can be seen in the Obama administration. No matter what your feelings on the President the reality is he promised transparency in his administration and we've seen little of that over the last four years. It seems that this problem and others have been going on with Presidents for the last two hundred years. 

I came across this editorial from the New York Evening Post, dated February 2, 1808. It was the final year of Thomas Jefferson's administration and it seemed in some circles people were angry over  some empty promises he had made before he became President. The editorial reads as follows:

"The eight years of Mr. Jeffersons administration are about to expire. He came to the presidency, by affecting to rely upon the intelligence of the people. He endeavours to retain their good opinion, by keeping then in darkness! He affected to wish for what his friend Tom Paine would call an age of reasonpolitical reason, and he demands a blind confidence! Unable to justify his measures, he asks of the nation to be governed by an implicit faith in the propriety of an Act, which ruins many, and distresses all! "A republican government should have no secrets," was once his doctrine. The people shall know nothing is now his practice. The miserable wretch who is led to the gibbet is permitted to know his crime—but the nation is to be led hoodwinked to its destruction. When the sufferers—the unhappy victims ask, and it is impossible for them to avoid asking, why is this vial of wrath poured upon us, "He is a Tory—under British influence"—"settle your accounts and be ruined" is the reply. Yes, it requires all the confidence—all the faith, of which a stupid party bigotry is capable to approve of this terrible desolation.—The justification of this dreadful butchery of the political body, requires indeed the sacrifice of all the pride, and all the liberty, and all the good sense of the nation."

It's clear this individual felt Jefferson failed as a transparent President. So the question is did Jefferson break his campaign promises? Joseph Ellis, Pulitzer-Prize winning historian, agreed. In an op-ed piece in the LA Times (2008) he stated that the first broken campaign promise started with Jefferson in 1800 with his promise to reduce federal power and then turned around and purchased the Louisiana Territory in 1803. This move by most all historians is seen as a direct and blatant violation of his promise to reduce executive power and place more control in the hands of the states. In purchasing "an empire" Ellis stated that Jefferson had to "become an imperial president." From Ellis' analysis he was able to determine that two Presidents backed up what they claimed, the first being George Washington and the second was the unlikely James K Polk. 

As Ellis stated on NPR, as far as most historians are concerned, Polk is one of the better Presidents this country ever had. I can back up Ellis' claim because Polk is in my top ten Presidents of all time. He campaigned on four promises: 1) Reestablishment of Treasury, 2) Reduce Tariffs, 3) Acquire Oregon Territory, 4) Acquire California and New Mexico. Not only did Polk accomplish these very specific goals but he did not even seek a second term as President. He told the nation that he accomplished what he set out to do and was done. 

So with such a small percentage of Presidents that actually accomplish what they claim they are going to do, what should we honestly expect from our Presidential candidates? It seems like based on history, not much. So as the Presidential candidates appear on television and in newspapers take their claims of what they will do with a grain of salt, it's more than likely they are not going to do it.
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