“We’ve Had Muslims in America Since George Washington.” Really?


“We’ve had Muslims in America since George Washington.” So claimed Hillary Clinton during the second presidential debate. This was part of her response to Donald Trump’s proposed temporary ban on Muslim immigration, which appears to have metamorphosed into “extreme vetting.”

Some analysts trotted out the familiar lines about Muhammad Hamilton and Abdullah Hancock. At the risk of stating something I may not have stated before, Mrs. Clinton was right. Muslims who had been enslaved by other Muslims (against the dictates of Islam not to enslave fellow believers), as well as Muslims kidnapped and press-ganged into slavery by non-Muslims, were enslaved in the US at the time of the Founding.

Like many others I found her comment strange in isolation, as a defense against Mr. Trump’s previously proposed ban. Many things have been around for a long time. Some are good. Some are bad. Some we want more of, some less. The relevant question isn’t whether Islam and Muslims have been in America since the time of Washington, but what their presence has brought to America.

“We’ve had Muslims in America since George Washington.” Really?