Well, this isn’t exactly ancient, but I was sufficiently appalled at President Obama’s utterly clueless pronouncement that “Islam has always been part of America” in his speech last week on Ramadan that I felt it was worth an honorable mention. Okay, I know. This is an easy target. We ought not to expect any politician to have any grasp of anything that doesn’t result in filling their coffers with campaign funds or extracting more taxes from us. But we might expect the president to have a bit of a feel for American history.
Apparently the president got this gem of an insight from something called “The Collections and Stories of American Muslims,” the product of a non-profit organization. That organization makes the claim that Peter Salem, a former slave who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill, must have been a Muslim since “Salem” bears an etymological resemblance to “Salaam,” the Arabic word for peace. Wonderful logic there — and that’s what put me over the edge to including this on PaleoBabble. It’s precisely the same sort of “sounds the same to my ear regardless of whether it has any linguistic – or in this case, historical – support” that far too many Christian “Bible researchers” use to prove this or that piece of paleobabble. And ditto that for the people who think Zeitgeist and Holy Blood, Holy Grail have any intellectual merit. Ridiculous.
Here’s a nice link to a short rebuttal of the comment.
Here’s a bit of information on Peter Salem. I also found several scholarly articles that mention him. This one is representative — see the footnote on page 10 — nothing is actually known about him. For all we know, “Salem” might have been a name given to him to denote where (geographically) he lived as a slave. It isn’t that far from Boston / Bunker Hill.
If I can find this sort of thing in five minutes, so can the president and his speech writers. But they don’t appear to be interested in research, just propaganda.