I’ve written about this subject a few times since 9/11, since I’m something of a defender of Muslims in America..
A recent (Aug 1) interview by Tucker Carlson with an American convert to Islam, Bob Marro, is descriptive of the general misunderstanding Americans have about worldwide Islam and Islam in America.
They are different. By definition they are different. But since the Obama administration, probably much earlier, it had been the policy of the US government, both in immigration and foreign relations, to erase that distinction.
This is not really about Islam, or Muslims in America, or sharia, but what many Americans on the Right don’t fully get about what it means to “become American” and how it distinguishes us from all the rest of the world. And all the rest of History.
You see, the Left fully gets it. They know that America, as created, is different. That’s what they want to undo.
Muslims have been coming to America for over a century, but they did not come as part of the waves of teeming masses that came through Ellis Island. They were not part of the “tired, poor, huddled masses ” as Emma Lazarus in the 19th Century reached out to channel poor Jim Acosta about in the 21st. Most were professional people, doctors, engineers, and entrepreneurial businessmen, who did “yearn to breathe free” because of suffocating professional caste systems in Delhi, Karachi, Tehran, even London and Paris, where it wasn’t what you knew, but who you knew in order to succeed. A merit-based free market for professional talent did not exist elsewhere.
In fact, merit had little to do with how anyone got ahead anywhere in the word… except America.
(As we now know, “merit” got caught up in the luggage of a male, white, patriarchal, largely Christian society that had to be displaced, as we’ve been watching transpire for the past half century now. But that’s a story for another time.)
Those educated professionals came to America already possessing middle class attitudes about society in general. They were not poor, tribal and parochial. Once here most prospered by comparison to any endeavor they may have undertaken in their home country. They did not live or work in ethnic conclaves. Yet they were practicing Muslims, usually within easy access to a mosque.
And there were Anglo-American converts. My copy of the Koran was translated by an English convert, Mohammed Marmaduke Picktall in the 19th century, which I bought for a college course in 1965. Picktall entitled it “The Meaning of the Glorious Koran.” signifying his enthusiasm. Picktall was one of those “desert-loving English”, an academician, who, in the heyday of the British Empire could be found in every colonial capital, from India-Pakistan, Malaysia, East Africa (Kenya-Tanganyika) and West Africa (Nigeria).
Many rotated back to London (mostly) where they took up positions in universities and government. The oldest “purpose-built” mosque in London was built in 1926, while interestingly, the oldest American mosque was built in 1922…in North Dakota!
Most American converts are similar to the English. Mr Marro, Tucker’s guest, was a former foreign service officer. John Brennan, former CIA director and Dep Director- NSA, under Obama, is also said to be a convert to Islam. I am sure most every American university today has a few American converts, although, since 9/11 the attraction for the real-deal, middle eastern and probably radicalized Muslims appear to have been a trend since the mid-2000s, to match the otherworld-drift of American universities in general. There are all sorts of Muslim organizations who have a list of applicants for any college or university that wants to fill out a diversity slot. (The California imam Mahmoud Harmoush, who recently called upon Allah to destroy all Jews—in Arabic—is from Syria, for instance.)
Mr Marro claimed some ignorance of there being anything but middle class, professional Muslim immigrants in the United States. This is sort of like the Manhattanite not understanding how Reagan or Trump won inasmuch as they never knew a single person in their circle-of-friends who would vote for them!
That has changed in the past 30 years, for President Trump’s proposed change[…]