Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Other People's Mail

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Other People's Mail

Article excerpt

LEARNING FROM A 1797 TREATY

To the Salisbury Post, Feb. 5, 2017

At this moment in our nation's history, it might be worthwhile to look at one of our country's first foreign policy conflicts. Commercial shipping in the Mediterranean Sea, during the last decade of the 18th century, was being targeted by the Barbary Pirates, who were primarily from the Muslim coast of North Africa.

President Washington decided to pursue diplomacy to protect American merchant ships. The result was the Treaty of Tripoli, drawn up during the Washington administration and signed into law by John Adams in 1797. The language in Article 11 of the document may surprise many Americans today.

It reads: "As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion- as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen (Muslims)-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

While circumstances obviously change over the course of 220 years, it is unfortunate that our new president, as opposed to President Washington, is leading us in the direction of international conflict. Even though Muslims may be the modern face of refugees, those of us who are Christians should remember that Jesus Christ was a refugee whose family was given political sanctuary in Egypt, an act that saved the life of their infant son.

As Americans we should also remember that our ancestors had the courage to walk through open doors into this New World, and to close those doors, which we have done before, is always an act of fear.

Keith Townsend, Mt. Ulla, NC

NOT THE FIRST IMMIGRANT BAN

To The Washington Post, Jan. 27, 2017

The Jan. 26 editorial "Mr. Trump's politicized immigration acts" said "a blanket ban would compromise this nation's long-standing position as a sanctuary for desperate and innocent people."

The Immigration Act of 1924, also known as the Johnson-Reed Act, specifically placed immigration quotas on certain groups in an attempt to maintain a Protestant cultural identity in the United States. According to the Office of the Historian at the State Department, "The new quota calculations included large numbers of people of British descent whose families had long resided in the United States. As a result, the percentage of visas available to individuals from the British Isles and Western Europe increased, but newer immigration from other areas like Southern and Eastern Europe was limited."

Two groups who may have been deemed in a desperate need for sanctuary in the United States were Italian immigrants attempting to flee fascist Italy and Jewish people of various European nationalities.

According to the Office of the Historian, "The 1924 Immigration Act also included a provision excluding from entry any alien who by virtue of race or nationality was ineligible for citizenship. Existing nationality laws dating from 1790 and 1870 excluded people of Asian lineage from naturalizing. As a result, the 1924 Act meant that even Asians not previously prevented from immigrating- the Japanese in particular- would no longer be admitted to the United States."

Steve Amoia, Gaithersburg, MD

THE FACTS ABOUT REFUGEES

To The Beacon-News, Feb. 3, 2017

I'm deeply saddened and frustrated by President Trump's decision to block refugee resettlement. I've met many refugees who have been resettled by World Relief DuPage/Aurora, and they have enriched my life.

I've worked with dozens of local churches for whom welcoming refugees has been a transformative ministry for their congregations. The president's decision has thwarted these churches' ability to live out our faith by obeying the biblical call to welcome these vulnerable refugees. …

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