Dear Mr. Trump: Regarding your reference to Thomas Jefferson
I had no intention of drawing any parallels between you and Thomas Jefferson as such a comparison would be absurd. Apples and an uneducated, xenophobic orange if you will. However since you opened the door seeking precedents for your attacks on the free press, let’s take a peak inside, shall we? Believe it or not there are actually some very interesting and relevant parallels to draw. Not between the two of you, but between some of the particulars of our precarious situation.
Summarizing your position is a difficult task since you have made a frustrating habit of playing to the crowd, saying whatever comes to mind and contradicting yourself, often in the same sentence. Impressive, sir! However there are a few areas in which you have been consistent. Not so much with regards to specific claims or policy, but certainly with sentiments, attitudes, and general misconceptions of how our government works (among other things).
You have made it clear that you believe we are at war with Islam and have been extremely critical of those who have refused to explicitly identify our enemies as Muslims.
You have charged that our military is “so depleted,” that we are no longer taken seriously in the world as a military power and that we have been too week in our diplomatic relations and military tactics.
Unfortunately for security and prosperity of the American people, you have also made it clear that you have never read a history book or the Constitution, nor studied political science, law, ethics, or government policy. It is not my job to educate you on any of these things however I would like to share with you a bit of history regarding the aforementioned founding father that you so flippantly referenced in your post-campaign campaign rally.
It may surprise you to know that the first conflict between the United States and a foreign power following the Revolutionary War was actually with Tripoli, a Muslim nation. Let me illuminate you further as to the state of the union and context in which we faced that conflict.
While we did succeed in winning our independence from the British Empire, we had no established credibility in the world. Far from being taken seriously as a leader in industry and innovation, or as a military power, we were still striving to be taken seriously as a nation at all.
Our navy was not “depleted” but non-existent. We did have a naval force during the Revolutionary War, but suffering the loss of so many ships it was disbanded and would not be reformed for another decade or so in order to protect merchant ships, which had become vulnerable to pirates from Tripoli as well as Tunis, Algiers, and Morocco all of which were also Muslim nations. (Fun fact, Morocco was the first foreign nation to acknowledge American independence.)
Thomas Jefferson believed that this was the greatest threat to our new nation. Since we had no navy and had not yet established treatises with foreign powers our merchant ships became increasingly vulnerable. Many of our ships and countrymen were captured, imprisoned, and enslaved.
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams debated whether we should form a treatise that involved paying large sums of money to these powers or simply go to war with them. Jefferson pushed vigorously for the latter, however — and here is the fun part — he consistently refused to suggest that we were at war with a foreign ideology. Rather he was able to see plainly that this was a conflict between nations vying for money, property, and power, of the oldest and most mundane type.
While this conflict was going on, Jefferson drafted and passed his religious freedom bill in Virginia, explicitly stating that this country ought to grant equal rights and equal citizenship to Catholics, Jews, Muslims, pagans etc. As an old man near death he reflected that this was one of his two proudest achievements (the other being the Declaration of Independence). He was such a staunch supporter of equal rights for Muslims that he was often attacked and accused of being a Muslim. Sound familiar? Upon his election there was panic among many Protestants who believed that his presidency would begin an age in which Muslims, Catholics, and Jews would rise to power and the persecution of the Protestant majority would be imminent. Thank goodness none of those unsubstantiated fears are still present and/or routinely stoked by power-hungry megalomaniacs with any other means by which to attain votes.
Hey, by the way have you ever ready any of Thomas Jefferson’s work? The Declaration of Independence is a masterpiece of American literature and a very easy read. I highly recommend it. But there are plenty of other pieces worth taking a look at, such as his 1785 Notes on the State of Virginia in which he wrote that the general assembly shall not use their new state constitution to “abridge the civil rights of any person on account of his religious belief.”
You might also read his first inaugural address in which he decried that we must “with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and Republican principles.” He insisted, “the minority possess their equal rights” under the law and that to “violate would be oppression.” And just in case it was not made clear enough he went on to say, “having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions.”
You can also get a hold of his private correspondence with the Bey of Tunis in which he spoke warmly and referred to him as “my good friend.” In 1805 representatives that Muslim nation arrived in Washington to discuss terms and relations between their two nations — which would no doubt disseminate to the other North African Muslim nations with whom tensions were high. The visit would last roughly a year. During Ramadan out of respect for his guests Jefferson pushed the time of a dinner attended by several statesmen including John Quincy Adams from 3:00pm to “sundown” so as to disturb the Muslim’s ritual fasting. At the end of the visit Jefferson sent so many gifts back with the ambassadors that they required a second ship to carry it all. The second ship was also a gift. And it was not just a ship but a naval ship, newer and stronger than the one he had previously captured and that Tunis had asked to be returned.
In his correspondence with the Bey Jefferson would assure him that these United States set itself apart from the rest of Europe by specifically not being beholden to any particular religious authority and therefore no such religion or ideology dictating the necessity conflict existed.
Jefferson had his own copy of the Quran in his library and routinely read from it to gain insight and seek out legal precedents and common ground. But while he consistently defended the rights of American Muslims, this is not to say that he himself was not prejudiced against them. Quite the contrary. From his personal correspondence we can see that he had plenty of negative things to say about Islam, as well as Catholicism and Judaism. But this just further demonstrates a type of character that you, Mr. President are severely lacking. It demonstrates a competency of diplomacy and sincerity of one’s principles. A leader of a free democracy must have the capacity to be steadfast in defense of the principles he/she wishes to serve. That resolve must grow proportionately to how difficult it becomes and when a person meets their threshold — as every creature surely does — and the resolve dissipates, so too must their right to govern. If you think that you have not met such a threshold yet it is probably because you were born on it and one can never recall the circumstances of their own birth.
Are there any other presidents or historical figures you wish to compare yourself to? This is fun.
A mortified citizen.