In light of the ongoing efforts by Democrats and the establishment media to make the Make America Great Again hat equivalent to the Nazi swastika, presidential candidate Julián Castro’s recent embrace of the phrase was curious in the extreme. Yet thus far no Leftist political or media spokesperson has complained about the fact that at the Hamas-linked Islamic Society of North America annual convention last week, Castro declared: “Muslim Americans for generations have been part of the fabric of our American family. They have helped make America the great nation it is.” So far, no one has wagged a disapproving finger at Castro and reminded him that, in the immortal words of Andrew Cuomo that so many Leftists agree with today, “America was never great.”
Their silence is odd, but even odder is the fact that Castro apparently did not provide even a single example of how Muslims “have helped make America the great nation it is,” yet his audience seems to have taken for granted that it was true. But what is the basis for this confidence? Can Mr. Castro elucidate? Since, as he said, “Muslim Americans for generations have been part of the fabric of our American family,” it shouldn’t be hard for him to list a few examples of how Muslims have helped make America the great nation that it is, right?
Castro may not want to do this, of course, since it would only draw attention to his right-wing, bigoted, hate-filled claim that America is great, and that will only lose him voters among Democrats today. So we will have to do it for him.
Castro probably had in mind the increasingly popular Leftist dogma that the slaves in the pre-Civil War American South were Muslims. This claim has been gaining a great deal of currency recently, and despite the fact that slavery has been illegal in the United States for over 150 years, there are more Muslim slaves all the time. According to PBS, “10 to 15 percent were said to be Muslims,” but by April 2019, PBS had revised this, saying that “up to 20 percent of Africans enslaved in America were Muslim.” Even that isn’t enough for the VOA, which claims that “approximately one-third” of American slaves were Muslim.
The VOA does admit, however, that “while the exact number of enslaved Muslims is unknown, up to 40 percent of those who were captured and enslaved came from predominantly Muslim parts of West Africa.” However, that factoid works against the VOA’s own argument about the percentage of Muslims among the slaves, for as the historian Jeremy Black, author of A Brief History of Slavery, notes, Muslim slavers, including those who sold slaves to Atlantic slave traders, enslaved only non-Muslims. Nor are the alleged Muslim slaves likely to have come from non-Muslim areas of West Africa, as there simply weren’t many Muslims at all in those areas during the time that the transatlantic slave trade was thriving.
What’s more, if up to a third of the slaves were Muslim, it is beyond odd that no one seems to have noticed until the early twenty-first century. There are only a handful of antebellum accounts mentioning any slaves that were Muslim; why did the multitude of the rest go completely unnoticed?
The agenda in this historical revisionism is to claim that all the fruits of slave labor in the United States have to be credited to Islam’s positive influence in the country. Leftists love to make this argument these days, as it buttresses both their fantasies of how Muslims are routinely victimized in this country and their new claims, recently advanced in the New York Times, that pretty much everything that has ever been accomplished in America is due to slave labor.
Yet like so many other Leftist claims, this one isn’t true. Julián Castro may not be willing to tell you, but there is simply no record of Muslims having “for generations” been “part of the fabric of our American family” and having “helped make America the great nation it is.”
Not only were there no more than a handful of Muslim slaves. It shouldn’t even need to be said that there were no Muslim signers of the Declaration of Independence, no Muslim influence (again, contrary to claims) on the framers of the Constitution, no Muslims fought in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War. The Civil War, or the Spanish-American War. If any fought in World War I or World War II, they were again only a handful, but we will be certain to be hearing about them before too long.
There is one way, however, that Castro is right: consider all that Muslim Americans have contributed to the strength and character of our country over the last ten years. The innovations in airport security. The poisoning of the public discourse with “hate” invective against anyone who opposes them. The assault on the freedom of speech. The numerous jihad plots and attacks, from Fort Hood to Times Square to Portland, Oregon to North Carolina. The ever-increasing demands for special accommodation in businesses and schools. The spurious claims of victimhood. And so much more in this vein.
All that is decidedly not what Julián Castro had in mind. But the fact that his claim was pure fantasy is unlikely to trouble anyone who might vote for him: their grip on reality isn’t that strong in the first place.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.