Remember that iftar dinner the president sponsored? The dinner that got him in trouble because he came out in strong support of the mega-mosque at Ground Zero, support from which he backed away the very next day? Well, it turns out he delivered another blatant lie at that dinner, one that slipped under the radar because his support of the Ground Zero Mosque was so controversial.
In his remarks at the iftar observance, Obama claimed that the “first” iftar dinner in the White House was hosted by Thomas Jefferson.
Tonight, we are reminded that Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity. And Ramadan is a reminder that Islam has always been part of America. The first Muslim ambassador to the United States, from Tunisia, was hosted by President Jefferson, who arranged a sunset dinner for his guest because it was Ramadan—making it the first known iftar at the White House, more than 200 years ago.
In this way, Obama tried to make it seem as if the United States has respected Islam since the early Republic and has observed its celebrations for two hundred years. But this is a major stretching of the truth. Thomas Jefferson did not hold an “iftar” dinner, unless you might call the dinner Obama references “iftar by default.”
Naturally, the left-wing Old Media took Obama’s blatant misconstruction of historical events and went even farther down the road of untruths and lies. The New York Times published a story the next day referencing Jefferson’s mythical iftar dinner and made of it a “White House tradition”!
In hosting the iftar, Mr. Obama was following a White House tradition that, while sporadic, dates to Thomas Jefferson, who held a sunset dinner for the first Muslim ambassador to the United States. President George W. Bush hosted iftars annually.
What tosh. There has never been a tradition of iftar dinners at the White House, sporadic or otherwise, until after the year 1992. Jefferson’s dinner was no iftar dinner and no other president until Bill Clinton even hosted one. We have a “tradition” of exactly three presidents holding iftar dinners, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and now Barack Obama. Not much of a tradition that.
So what of this claim of Jefferson’s iftar dinner? As Jihad Watch informs us, there never really was one. The truth is that in 1805 Jefferson invited to a dinner at the White House one Sidi Soliman Melli Melli, the diplomatic envoy that the Bey of Tunis sent to Washington. The time set for this dinner was 3:30 PM, the normal time that everyone then ate dinner in those days. Since it was Ramadan, however, the envoy informed Jefferson that he could not attend until the sun went down because he was observing his fasting ritual.
Jefferson then offered to push his dinner hour until the sun went down as a courtesy to his invited guest. It was as simple as that. There was no mention of any iftar anything. President Jefferson simply moved the hour of dinner to suit the envoy. There was no change to what was served in order to suit Muslim needs, there was no acknowledgment of the Muslim faith, and no observance of any “iftar” dinner. Jefferson was just being a nice guy.
And of this historical incident, Obama and his cohorts in the left-wing, Old Media have created a mythical “sporadic tradition.” But for Obama and the New York Times to mislead the American people into imagining that the White House has celebrated iftar all the way back to 1805 is simply a straight out lie.
Warner Todd Huston’s thoughtful commentary, sometimes irreverent often historically based, is featured on many websites such as gatewaypundit.com, renewamerica.us, rightwingnews.com, chicagonow.com, among many, many others. He has also written for several history magazines, has appeared on numerous TV and radio shows and appears in the new book “Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture,” which can be purchased on amazon.com. He is also the owner and operator of Publius’ Forum.
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