Your Opinion: Treaty language misrepresented

Dear Editor:

Public debate is best when all parties are honest. Steve Sampson has misrepresented primary American documents in a dishonest answer to Mr. Wallemann concerning the Treaty of Tripoli. The dishonesty originates once again with the Christian ideologue David Barton whose propaganda Sampson repeats.

Barton and his followers are only interested in painting a picture of America as having been founded as a Christian nation. The goal is to increase the influence of their brand of Christianity on a secular government to pave the way for the return of Christ. Many state and national politicians are supported by these ideologues. These politicians sympathize with the fringe ideas.

Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli expressly stated that America is a secular government. The point of the 1797 treaty language was to dispel the idea that America had waged a religious war against a Muslin nation.

At that time European nations had waged brutal religious based-wars against Muslims to regain control of southern Europe. The American government explicitly wanted to distance itself from that. Therefore, President John Adams signed this treaty along with the unanimous support of the Senate. The complete treaty was read on the floor of the Senate including Article 11.

Foul says Barton. Article 11 was not in the Arabic version. It was a re-write by the American ambassador Barlow when he translated the treaty language and sent it to America. This is true and recently verified by Purdue professor Frank Lambert. But so what? The changed text was to reassure Muslims that we would make rational decisions about matters of state and not rely on ideological and religious-based decisions.

Barton’s arguments delivered by Mr. Sampson are completely off the mark. Adams and Congress did not know there was a substitution of language and they completely agreed with advertising the secular nature of our government.

The Treaty of Tripoli is a major stumbling block to the Christian nation storyline. David Barton has thrown up several arguments against it since the publication of his book “Original Intent.” The argument that Article 11 is a fake because it is not in the Arabic language version is the latest attempt to skew history to his revisionist history.

Mr. Sampson usually tells us half-truths as he slyly tells you others are not telling the whole story. All letters by any writer here should be studied to confirm fact or fiction.

Issue-oriented letters to the editor in response to this or about other local topics are welcome. All letters should be limited to 400 words. The author's name must appear with the letter, and the name, address and phone number provided for verification. Letters that cannot be verified by telephone will not be published. Send letters for publication to editor@newstribune.com

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