For the next twenty years, Thomas Jefferson resolved to use force and not to pay kidnappers. Some of Jefferson ’s colleagues favored paying them off. They thought it would be cheaper.
Jefferson believed our national independence and honor were at stake. And by 1800, paying ransom was no longer cheap. Fully one-fifth of the U.S. budget was going to pay off the Barbary Pirates of North Africa.
When Jefferson became president in 1801, he put an end to paying tribute and offering ransom. He fought a short, sharp, successful war against the Barbary Pirates, even sending the U.S. Marines “to the shores of Tripoli .”
Jefferson, along with Benjamin Franklin, identified strongly with the Jews’ fight for freedom. Both Franklin and Jefferson proposed making Moses leading the Children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt the official seal of the United States .
It is all this history that President Obama ignores when he displaces the Jews, when he mischaracterizes our country. He is trying to “fundamentally transform” America . It is a dangerous course.
We should welcome any step toward genuine religious freedom in Muslim majority lands. No one wants to fight a Holy War against the world’s Muslims. But we should not delude ourselves. There is not today a single Muslim majority land where religious freedom exists. There is not one where the rights of religious minorities have been protected—as they have been in America .
For President Obama to displace the Jews in his description of our country risks losing the very religious freedom we celebrate. He may be leading us all back into “Egyptian” bondage. What a terrible precedent on Religious Freedom Day.
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