Thursday, January 18, 2007

What Thomas Jefferson Learned From the Muslim Holy Book of Jihad

By Ted Sampley
U.S. Veteran Dispatch

Democrat Keith Ellison is now officially the first Muslim United States congressman. True to his pledge, he placed his hand on the Quran, the Muslim book of jihad and pledged his allegiance to the United States during his ceremonial swearing-in.

Capitol Hill staff said Ellison's swearing-in photo opportunity drew more media than they had ever seen in the history of the U.S. House. Ellison represents the 5th Congressional District of Minnesota.

The Quran Ellison used was no ordinary book. It once belonged to Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States and one of America's founding fathers. Ellison borrowed it from the Rare Book Section of the Library of Congress. It was one of the 6,500 Jefferson books archived in the library.

Ellison, who was born in Detroit and converted to Islam while in college, said he chose to use Jefferson's Quran because it showed that "a visionary like Jefferson" believed that wisdom could be gleaned from many sources.

There is no doubt Ellison was right about Jefferson believing wisdom could be "gleaned" from the Muslim Quran. At the time Jefferson owned the book, he needed to know everything possible about Muslims because he was about to advocate war against the Islamic "Barbary" states of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Tripoli.

Ellison's use of Jefferson's Quran as a prop illuminates a subject once well-known in the history of the United States, but which today is mostly forgotten -- the Muslim pirate slavers who over many centuries enslaved millions of Africans and tens of thousands of Christian Europeans andAmericans in the Islamic "Barbary" states.

Over the course of 10 centuries, Muslim pirates cruised the African and Mediterranean coastline, pillaging villages and seizing slaves.

The taking of slaves in pre-dawn raids on unsuspecting coastal villages hada high casualty rate. It was typical of Muslim raiders to kill off as manyof the "non-Muslim" older men and women as possible so the preferred "booty" of only young women and children could be collected. Young non-Muslim women were targeted because of their value as concubines in Islamic markets. Islamic law provides for the sexual interests of Muslim men by allowing them to take as many as four wives at one time and to have as many concubines as their fortunes allow.

Boys, as young as 9 or 10 years old, were often mutilated to create eunuchs who would bring higher prices in the slave markets of the Middle East. Muslim slave traders created "eunuch stations" along major African slave routes so the necessary surgery could be performed. It was estimated that only a small number of the boys subjected to the mutilation survived after the surgery.

When American colonists rebelled against British rule in 1776, American merchant ships lost Royal Navy protection. With no American Navy for protection, American ships were attacked and their Christian crews enslaved by Muslim pirates operating under the control of the "Dey of Algiers" -- an Islamist warlord ruling Algeria.

Because American commerce in the Mediterranean was being destroyed by the pirates, the Continental Congress agreed in 1784 to negotiate treaties with the four Barbary States. Congress appointed a special commission consisting of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, to oversee the negotiations.

Lacking the ability to protect its merchant ships in the Mediterranean, the new America government tried to appease the Muslim slavers by agreeing to pay tribute and ransoms in order to retrieve seized American ships and buy the freedom of enslaved sailors.

Adams argued in favor of paying tribute as the cheapest way to get American commerce in the Mediterranean moving again. Jefferson was opposed. He believed there would be no end to the demands for tribute and wanted matters settled "through the medium of war." He proposed a league of trading nations to force an end to Muslim piracy.

In 1786, Jefferson, then the American ambassador to France, and Adams, then the American ambassador to Britain, met in London with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the "Dey of Algiers" ambassador to Britain.

The Americans wanted to negotiate a peace treaty based on Congress' vote to appease.

During the meeting Jefferson and Adams asked the Dey's ambassador why Muslims held so much hostility towards America, a nation with which they had no previous contacts.

In a later meeting with the American Congress, the two future presidents reported that Ambassador Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja had answered that Islam "was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Quran, 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 Battlewas sure to go to Paradise."

For the following 15 years, the American government paid the Muslims millions of dollars for the safe passage of American ships or the return of American hostages. The payments in ransom and tribute amounted to 20 percent of United States government annual revenues in 1800.

Not long after Jefferson's inauguration as president in 1801, he dispatcheda group of frigates to defend American interests in the Mediterranean, and informed Congress.

Declaring that America was going to spend "millions for defense but not one cent for tribute," Jefferson pressed the issue by deploying American Marines and many of America's best warships to the Muslim Barbary Coast.

The USS Constitution, USS Constellation, USS Philadelphia, USS Chesapeake, USS Argus, USS Syren and USS Intrepid all saw action.

In 1805, American Marines marched across the dessert from Egypt into Tripolitania, forcing the surrender of Tripoli and the freeing of all American slaves.

During the Jefferson administration, the Muslim Barbary States, crumbling as a result of intense American naval bombardment and on shore raids by Marines, finally officially agreed to abandon slavery and piracy.

Jefferson's victory over the Muslims lives on today in the Marine Hymn, with the line, "From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, we will fight our country's battles on the land as on the sea."

It wasn't until 1815 that the problem was fully settled by the total defeat of all the Muslim slave trading pirates.

Jefferson had been right. The "medium of war" was the only way to put and end to the Muslim problem. Mr. Ellison was right about Jefferson. He was a"visionary" wise enough to read and learn about the enemy from their own Muslim book of jihad.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Top 10 Movies of 2006

By Graham H. Moes
Graybrook Film Reviewer

EDITOR'S NOTE: The 2006 reel world in rewind: Forget those fancy-pants critics with their foreign-language films you've never heard of. Enjoy the real top ten movies of the year as recommended for the rest of us by our resident film columnist Graham Moes.

Casino Royale — Best Bond movie in years? Try best action movie in years, period. Part of the recent movement to reinvent action-hero icons by visiting their roots, this rebirth of 007 took the rusty franchise off autopilot at long last in favor of an intelligent, character-driven story, a down-and-dirty execution, and action sequences more riveting than the last decade of 007 put together. Daniel Craig is the best Bond since Connery, and assuming this level of writing holds up, expect great things ahead for Her Majesty's secret service.

The Nativity Story — Not quite the transcendent work of devastating beauty The Passion of the Christ represented (nor the box office for that fact), writer Mike Rich's exhaustively researched framing of Mary and Joseph's struggle to fulfill their cosmic calling has a quiet strength that rises above director Catherine Hardwicke's uninspired direction and Keisha Castle-Hughes' lifeless portrayal of Mary for a deeply moving experience. Joseph's wonderfully fleshed-out story and brief scenes with shepherds and others in need of great joy are key elements that helped put the meaning back in those carols I, at least, had been taking for granted for years.

Apocalypto — They say great filmmakers can tell stories without a line of dialogue. If so, Mel Gibson may be the purest director working today. Mesmerizing from first frame to last, the Spartan-scripted Apocalypto — OK, it was a foreign-language film — is like nothing you've ever seen. And before it settles into a merely thrilling third-act homage to The Naked Prey, the ancient Mayan world Gibson hog-ties and drags us into is more horrifying, spectacular and exquisitely crafted than anything we're likely to find until his next crazy idea for a movie. And look for me first in line.

United 93 — It wasn't "too soon" for this film, though writer/director Paul Greengrass took some heat for tackling the story of the flight that fought back on Sept. 11 to saved untold lives. While at times too documentary to generate the kind of cathartic raw hatred we're still waiting to feel at the movies for those behind Sept. 11, Greengrass at least came closest to showing us the true face of the enemy. His chaotic directorial style fit the real-time narrative, and his casting of people actually involved in the events was an act of risky genius. Catch it on DVD now for some great insight from surviving relatives as they weigh in on the film.

World Trade Center — Oliver Stone delivered the year's Ground Zero-level story of Sept. 11, told from the perspective of Port Authority officers trapped in the rubble and those working to save them. Stone put aside his personal politics and penchant for kook-burger conspiracy theories long enough to prove he still knows how to make movies for the rest of us, and Nicholas Cage gave an Oscar-deserving performance made all the more impressive for the fact he does so mostly through voice and facial expression, trapped in the debris as his character is for most of the film. Far from the downer most expected, the triumphant "WTC" deserves a place of honor on every American's DVD shelf.

Cars — It wouldn't be the ol' Top 10 list without a Pixar film, this year a shiny but nostalgic take on American car culture of a bygone era. For anyone who's driven the lonely stretches of old Route 66 in recent years and experienced the bittersweet solitude of cruising the road time left behind, this movie is for you. And if you haven't, it's still for you. It also features a superior soundtrack and the voice of Paul Newman, proving a legend doesn't even need to be seen onscreen to steal scenes.

Stranger Than Fiction — Will Ferrell stretched his serious acting muscles and still managed to keep it funny in the only movie in recent memory to have film-theory wonks and average viewers alike actually debating the meaning of a mainstream movie. Great performances and the most original script of the year made for the perfect blend of art house "intelligent design" and popular accessibility.

Inside Man — I'm a sucker for a great caper film anytime, but Spike Lee's urban jack worked not only on a will they pull it off? level but also mounted a killer wait, what's really going on here?? suspense classic, surprise ending. Serve it all up with Denzel Washington and a side of Jody Foster and you've got a cinematic recipe for the year's other rare brain- and crowd-pleaser.

Nacho Libre — This monk's tale of a heavyweight friar moonlighting as a Mexican wrestler is the kind of movie you either love or hate. Having seen it thrice since it came out and laughed harder each time, apparently I love it. Brought to you by Jack Black and the team behind Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho may be even more of an acquired taste, and while not quite at the level of Napoleon, still featured some of the freshest and funniest comic bits in the movies this year. Nachoooooo!

Invincible — Sure it's a slick, factory-produced, "feel good" story from Disney. Who says the top 10 movies of the year have to be depressing, low-budget indies for the gay rodeo circuit? As the true(ish) story of an aging Average Joe who bootstrapped himself out of hard times and into the NFL, feel good comes with the territory, and God bless it, says I. Even so, the slice-of-life depiction of Philly in the depressed '70s and deeper themes of American resilience helped raise this one to the Rocky of recent football movies. (Now if only I'd made it to see the real Rocky last year. But I guess that's why they invented New Year's resolutions.)