Wednesday, September 28, 2005

What Do You Believe

I'm confused. Now, this shouldn't be a surprise to anyone because I'll admit I get confused quite a bit. I'll also admit that I might've skated my way through one too many of Howie Baird's history lessons because I learned something new last night courtesy of Bill Maher.

Last night, we watched a re-run of Real Time. One of the guests, Christopher Hitchens, referenced an historical event that involved Thomas Jefferson. I asked (my ex-husband) if the reference was real and he assured me it was. So, I today I took the time to look it up and get the details.

Come to find out, the United States went to war with Muslim powers in 1801. Barbary pirates kidnapped and made slaves of our citizens, demanding a steep ransom for their release. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson asked of the envoy of Tripoli by what right did he make his claim for payment.

Jefferson reported to Congress that, "The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, 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."

Whoah. So let's step back and look at this. In 1801, we were being attacked by muslim terrorists who used their Koran as justification. Two centuries later, we're still being attacked by muslim terrorists who use their Koran as justification.

I'm not trying to sell the idea that Christianity is the answer to everything because I strongly suspect it's the answer to very little. Yes, there are extremists in every religion ... but I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that there's a group of people who have been terrorizing people for over two hundred years because they honestly believe God wants them to?

So, our culture bends over backwards to make sure we don't offend anyone anywhere. We stress to anyone that will listen that only Muslim extremists are blowing themselves (and everyone around them) to kingdom come. But two hundred years ago, Jefferson built an entire naval fleet based on the idea of "millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute" to fight the same extremists we're fighting today?

I'm confused ... no, really ... I'm just trying to understand. George Bush believes we can swagger in and wipe out in one fell swoop the same terrorists that Jefferson had to build an entire Navy to defeat?

I'll admit, politics have never been crystal clear to me. But I've gotta tell ya, the glass just got even foggier.

"The other event that has people
on edge this weekend,
Vice President Cheney will
undergo surgery for an aneurysm.
And while he is under anesthetic,
a man named George Bush
will be in charge."

Bill Maher