A hundred years ago, Muslims were furious over an immigration bill whose origins lay with advocacy by a headstrong and loudmouthed Republican in the White House.
The anti-immigration bill offended the Ottoman Empire, the rotting Caliphate of Islam soon to be defeated at the hands of America and the West, by banning the entry of “all polygamists, or persons who admit their belief in the practice of polygamy.”
This, as was pointed out at the time, would prohibit the entry of the “entire Mohammedan world” into the United States.
And indeed it would.
The battle had begun earlier when President Theodore Roosevelt had declared in his State of the Union address back in 1906 that Congress needed to have the power to “deal radically and efficiently with polygamy.” The Immigration Act of 1907, signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt, had banned “polygamists, or persons who admit their belief in the practice of polygamy.”
It was the last part that was most significant because it made clear what had only been implied.
The Immigration Act of 1891 had merely banned polygamists. The newest law banned anyone who believed in the practice of polygamy. That group included every faithful believing Muslim.
The Ottoman Empire’s representatives argued that their immigrants believed in the practice of polygamy, but wouldn’t actually take more than one wife. This argument echoes the current contention that Muslim immigrants may believe in a Jihad against non-Muslims without actually engaging in terrorism. That type of argument proved far less convincing to Americans than it does today.
These amazing facts, uncovered by @rushetteny reveal part of the long controversial history of battles over Islamic migration into America.
Muslim immigration was still slight at the time and bans on polygamy had not been created to deliberately target them, but the Muslim practice of an act repulsive to most Americans even back then pitted their cries of discrimination and victimhood against the values of the nation. The Immigration Act of 1907 had been meant to select only those immigrants who would make good Americans.
And Muslims would not.
In his 1905 State of the Union address, President Theodore Roosevelt had spoken of the need “to keep out all immigrants who will not make good American citizens.”
Unlike modern presidents, Roosevelt did not view Islam as a force for good. Instead he had described Muslims as “enemies of civilization”, writing that, “The civilization of Europe, America and Australia exists today at all only because of the victories of civilized man over the enemies of civilization", praising Charles Martel and John Sobieski for throwing back the "Moslem conquerors" whose depredations had caused Christianity to have "practically vanished from the two continents."
While today even mentioning “Radical Islam” occasions hysterical protests from the media, Theodore Roosevelt spoke and wrote casually of “the murderous outbreak of Moslem brutality” and, with a great deal of foresight offered a description of reform movements in Egypt that could have been just as well applied to the Arab Spring, describing the "mass of practically unchained bigoted Moslems to whom the movement meant driving out the foreigner, plundering and slaying the local Christian."
In sharp contrast to Obama’s infamous Cairo speech, Roosevelt’s own speech in Cairo had denounced the murder of a Coptic Christian political leader by a Muslim and warned against such violent bigotry.
Muslims had protested outside his hotel, but Teddy hadn’t cared.