After President Barack Obama said this week that “Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding,” Glenn Beck asked historian David Barton to come on his radio program and share some examples of what the president meant.
“In all the reading I’ve done, thousands of books, there’s nothing there,” Barton said on Friday. “I mean, we know that Muslims were the folks who captured the slaves sent to America, largely out of Africa. … The Muslims did the slave hunting and the slave trading, et cetera. The first Muslims came to America as a result of the Muslims capturing them and sending them to the Dutch traders.”
Barton said that beyond their heavy involvement in the slave trade, America was at war with the Barbary pirates shortly after the founding of the country, but those were “the two biggest contributions.”
“This is the fabric,” Beck said with heavy sarcasm. “I mean, it’s practically the whole blanket.”
Barton added that there were a number of Muslims whose activities were recorded in the 1800′s, but it might be a stretch to say they are part of the “fabric of the country.” One such Muslim helped the American military raise camels, he said.
“In 1856 the American military is engaged in all sorts of Indian wars in western lands,” Barton explained. “The secretary of war at that time was Jefferson Davis. Five years later, he would become part of the secession and the president of the Confederacy. But at that time, he’s secretary of war. What they did was they hired a Muslim to raise camels in Arizona because the cavalry said, ‘You know, instead of using horses across the desert, let’s try these camels.’”
“It was a short-lived experiment, but I have to credit their technology,” Barton added. “If you’re going to be in the desert chasing folks, why not use the animals that will go for several days, rather than several hours? But they were just so slow, they couldn’t keep up with the Indians.”
Beck emphasized that the founding fathers preached tolerance for all religions, and Thomas Jefferson defended the rights of Muslims overseas. But he feels the president is “changing our history” by saying Islam has been “woven into the fabric of our country since its founding.”
“David, thank you very much for enlightening me on this,” Beck concluded. “If the president wants to extol those who were selling people into slavery … so be it.”
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