Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

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Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Starting With Facts


The following in an excerpt from a speech President Obama made on February 3, the day of his first visit to an American mosque as President.
“So let’s start with this fact:  For more than a thousand years, people have been drawn to Islam’s message of peace.  And the very word itself, Islam, comes from salam -- peace.  The standard greeting is as-salamu alaykum -- peace be upon you.  And like so many faiths, Islam is rooted in a commitment to compassion and mercy and justice and charity.  Whoever wants to enter paradise, the Prophet Muhammad taught, ‘let him treat people the way he would love to be treated.’  For Christians like myself, I’m assuming that sounds familiar. 
“The world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are as diverse as humanity itself.  They are Arabs and Africans.  They're from Latin America to Southeast Asia; Brazilians, Nigerians, Bangladeshis, Indonesians.  They are white and brown and black.  There’s a large African American Muslim community.  That diversity is represented here today.  A 14-year-old boy in Texas who’s Muslim spoke for many when he wrote to me and said, ‘We just want to live in peace.’
“Here’s another fact: Islam has always been part of America.  Starting in colonial times, many of the slaves brought here from Africa were Muslim.  And even in their bondage, some kept their faith alive.  A few even won their freedom and became known to many Americans.  And when enshrining the freedom of religion in our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, our Founders meant what they said when they said it applied to all religions.
“Back then, Muslims were often called Mahometans.  And Thomas Jefferson explained that the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom he wrote was designed to protect all faiths -- and I’m quoting Thomas Jefferson now -- ‘the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan.’
“Jefferson and John Adams had their own copies of the Koran.  Benjamin Franklin wrote that ‘even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.’  So this is not a new thing.
“Generations of Muslim Americans helped to build our nation.  They were part of the flow of immigrants who became farmers and merchants.  They built America’s first mosque, surprisingly enough, in North Dakota.   America’s oldest surviving mosque is in Iowa.  The first Islamic center in New York City was built in the 1890s.  Muslim Americans worked on Henry Ford’s assembly line, cranking out cars.  A Muslim American designed the skyscrapers of Chicago.” 

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