- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Faux first

Contrary to pronouncements by pundits and publications alike, freshman Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota Democrat, is not the first Muslim elected to Congress.

Writing for the Christian Worldview Network, historian David Barton says that “as is often the case with the mainstream media, they were wrong” about the 43-year-old Democrat, who created a storm of controversy by taking his oath of office on the Koran rather than the Bible.

Rather, the first Muslim to serve in Congress was John Randolph of Virginia, elected off and on from 1799 to 1834. During the time there “were numerous Muslims living in America,” says Mr. Barton, so many that the first Koran was published and sold here by 1806.

“Significantly, Francis Scott Key, author of the ‘Star Spangled Banner,’ befriended Randolph and faithfully shared Christ with him. Randolph eventually converted from Islam to Christianity,” Mr. Barton writes.

“Interestingly, during the founding era, like today, there was great concern over the possibility of a Muslim being elected to Congress. That concern was heightened by the fact that at that time, like now, America was involved in a war on terror against Islamic terrorists,” the historian notes.

“That war, called the Barbary Powers War, lasted 32 years, involved six years of active overseas warfare against Muslim terrorists, and spanned four U.S. presidencies: those of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.”

Conspiracy theory

A video of leftover graffiti spray-painted on the steps of the U.S. Capitol during last weekend’s war protest is now playing on YouTube.com, compliments of the Family Research Council (FRC).

“The video documents that the graffiti is still visible even after cleaning,” complains FRC President Tony Perkins, who is calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, to explain why no attempt was made to halt or arrest the vandals.

“For any other group, such acts would mean immediate arrest,” he insists.

Thought that counts

The unflattering term “Hillarycare” has been resurrected by former church pastor-turned-freshman Rep. Tim Walberg, Michigan Republican, when describing changes to the Medicare prescription-drug plan enacted during the so-called “first 100 hours” of Congress.

C-SPAN, meanwhile, as if sensing further change is on the horizon under the new Democrat-controlled Congress, saw fit Monday night to rebroadcast first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 1993 testimony before Congress, after she had been appointed by President Clinton to head the Task Force on National Health Care Reform.

In testifying, she expressed optimism that Americans would have universal health care within two years — by 1995. Within a year, the plan was dead and all of Mrs. Clinton’s paperwork boxed up and sent to the Smithsonian and National Archives.

Arkansas characters

“Are you related to Bob McCaslin, mayor of Bentonville, Arkansas,” writes an Inside the Beltway reader from northwest Arkansas, forwarding a clipping from the Morning News about the new mayor.

The answer is no, but it’s interesting the reader should inquire. This columnist’s father, also Bob McCaslin, was born on the New York-Pennsylvania line, became an FBI agent during World War II and was assigned immediately by J. Edgar Hoover to Little Rock, Ark.

Dad traveled throughout Arkansas on “G-man” business, and was practically engaged to a woman from the farming town of Cotton Plant — that is, until she later visited him in New York City and, while a busload of horrified tourists looked on, proceeded to spit on the tomb of Ulysses S. Grant. (Dad ended up marrying a far less emotional woman from Montana, my mother, whom he had met at FBI headquarters in Washington.)

As for Mr. McCaslin the politician, his State of the City address last week to the Bentonville City Council was nearly 2,300 words long, or so we read. (He obviously takes after another well-winded Arkansas politician we came to know well.) And wouldn’t you know, the first-year mayor is already looking beyond Bentonville.

“I want to see Bentonville implement a recycling program that will set a new standard of excellence in Arkansas and the U.S.,” he declared. “It’s not something small. I have my teeth on something big.”

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin @washingtontimes.com.

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